September’s centenary has spurred me to learn more about the Women’s Institute, which has been an unexpected joy. All of the members I’ve spoken to, or met on my travels, have spoken so warmly about the confidence, friendship and fun they’ve gained from this organisation.
For the last 100 years, women all over the country have been serving their communities, and not just tea and cake, either, no. The more I learn about the WI, which is today the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK, the more I admire it. Giving women a voice, its members continue to campaign for the biggest issues affecting our lives. I might even join their ranks soon (if they’ll allow a bolshy single mum who doesn’t bake into their number, which, I’m told, they might!) So possibly see you there if you, too, are inspired by their story.
From history to Hairspray now, and Reading Operatic Society are staging this feelgood theatrical favourite. The group’s production takes place at The Hexagon in Reading from 23rd to the 26th September 2015. If you’ve never seen it, the setting is 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, and the quirky teenager Tracy Turnblad is a big girl with big hair and even bigger heart with only one passion: dancing. Promising an uplifting message for an audience of all ages, this version of Hairspray is directed by Alex McWilliam with Anton Gwilt and musical director and Emma-Jane Taylor choreographing. It’s curtain-up at 7.30pm or there’s a matinee on Saturday 26th September at 2.30pm. Tickets are £22 (concessions £20) and you can book through the society and avoid the booking fee by calling Jean Theobald on 0118 926 7135. Visit www.readingops.co.uk
Have you heard of the Workers’ Educational Association? Reading WEA is beginning its sixth year of providing adult education classes on 28th September. Up to now, the short courses of 10 or seven weeks (two hours per week) have mainly taken place at the Hamilton Centre in Hamilton Road. However, building work on the site has meant that this venue is no longer available to WEA. So, weekday classes will now take place in classrooms provided by New Directions in Caversham (in the centre near Waitrose) or South Reading (off Northumberland Avenue). The WEA is committed to a belief in education for life, and is a non-political body dedicated to inclusiveness and openness. Graham Thomas of the WEA said: “We are very grateful to New Directions and its head, Barry Wren, and to Reading Borough Council for their commitment to adult education in the borough. All our venues have access for disabled people, and most have parking on-site or nearby. This year we have an outstanding programme of courses in a wide variety of subject areas, including art history, local history (one of our strongest areas), architecture, literature, music, philosophy and much else. Our tutors are highly qualified in their subject areas, and encourage participation and a questioning attitude. There is no written work and no examinations! We have been able to keep our charges to the levels we set last year and brochures are widely available (but please ignore references to Hamilton Road, as the brochure was published before we knew about the closure of this venue).” To find out more, visit www.weareading.org.uk, where you can book online, or send completed booking forms to WEA Reading, 27 Derby Road, Caversham (RG4 5HE).
Every hour of every day in the United Kingdom a man dies of Prostate Cancer and 40,000 new cases are diagnosed. For the last three years Reading Lions have organised – free of charge – a PSA test at the Reading Circle Hospital. This year more than 700 men attended, 16 of whom received a warning to visit their doctor and 34 required immediate treatment – one was operated on within 72 hours. This life-saving event is indeed free to the men being tested, but Reading Lions do have to pay for it. With all that in mind, why not go along to Hennerton Golf Club in Crazies Hill Road, Wargrave (RG10 8LT) on the 17th for a special golf day? All funds raised will go to help the Lions pay for the 2016 event next March. You could also win a car, holiday, golf clubs or a powerboat experience!
September often feels like a new start, and the new school term (see our Education supplement for more on this!) is the ideal time to earn and hone your skills, whatever your age! Focusing, then, on Woodley Photographic Club, which starts its new year on Monday, 7th September, at 7.45pm. Tony King of the club says: “We are a well-established club catering for a wide range of photographic skills, from the beginner to the expert. We have a varied programme of events, ranging from guest speakers talking on a wide range of photographic subjects (such as wildlife, street photography, landscapes, portraits, digital photo editing skills etcetera) to competitions in print and digital display format. We also have club outings. The ethos of the club is to have fun and enjoyment from photography and our club members are always happy to help and advise. We also take part in inter-club competitions ,which give breadth and depth to the photographic experience and learning.” Interested? Woodley Photographic Club meet every Monday evening at the Oakwood Centre, Woodley, RG5 4JZ from 7.45-10pm. There is free and easy parking opposite. The annual subscription is £30 and there is an entry charge of £2 per night, including tea and biscuits and a free raffle for a bottle of wine – not bad for a night’s entertainment!
Now, we love it when a plan comes together here at Round & About! Several local community groups, including Jewel Tones singing group, Charvil Women’s Club and Charvil Senior Residents’ Club are holding a tabletop sale on Saturday, 3rd October. From 2pm, head to Charvil Village Hall in The Hawthorns (RG10 9TR) where you’ll find refreshments and lots of bargains. There’s free entry and profits will go to helping these groups do keep up their good work locally.
“There’s nothing quite like a nice bracing weekend at an Outward Bound Centre to bring a team together – or is there?” So begins the introduction to Purley Players’ next production. This is On Her Way Out a play by Fiona Roberton; a Murder Mystery Evening to include a three-course meal. Want a plot teaser? Tim Seymour, facilities manager of Frimleys Potato Factory, takes his five female staff for a weekend team-building exercise to Dedleigh Woods Outward Bound Centre; where the instructor is Doug Frith. But secrets abound; there is a reformed criminal, an estranged husband owing hundreds in back maintenance, one of the ladies took a holiday with the boss, a victim of school bullying meets his antagonist, a cheque forger, a former arsonist and many other secrets all of which have been overheard by one or more of the others. So who can’t keep their mouth shut? Who deserves to die? To find out head to the Barn in Purley on Thames, RG8 8DR, on Friday 2nd or Saturday 3rd October. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm. For tickets at £15 per head call 0118 9548052. There will be a bar for the purchase of wine, beer and soft drinks. You can also visit www.purleyplayers.org.uk
Every hour of every day in the United Kingdom a man dies of Prostate Cancer and 40,000 new cases are diagnosed. For the last three years Reading Lions have organised – free of charge – a PSA test at the Reading Circle Hospital. This year more than 700 men attended, 16 of whom many received a warning to visit their doctor and 34 required immediate treatment – one was operated on within 72 hours. This life-saving event is indeed free of charge to the men being tested, but Reading Lions do have to pay for it. With all that in mind, why not go along to Hennerton Golf Club in Crazies Hill Road, Wargrave (RG10 8LT) on the 17th for a special golf day? All funds raised will go to help the Lions pay for the 2016 event next March. You could also win a car, holiday, golf clubs or a powerboat experience.
Your garden might well be in full bloom now it’s September (here’s hoping for an Indian summer!). With this in mind, on Friday 2nd October, from 7.15pm to 10pm, the Flower Guild of The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne College will welcome Tan Strong, a specialist in floral design and a trained National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies national demonstrator, national speaker, teacher and judge. Tan will give a floral art demonstration on the subject of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. Tickets cost £10 and are available from Garlands Organic, Pangbourne; Inspiration, Goring-on-Thames; or Richard Stone, Westfield, Woodview Road, Pangbourne, RG8 7JN, with a stamped addressed envelope and cheque (payable to FIMC Flower Guild). Parking is free and there will be a Musical Prelude by students of Pangbourne College from 7.15pm to 8pm before the Floral Art Demonstration starts at 8pm. Tan competes at floral competitions regularly and was delighted to win first prize in the NAFAS Nationals. She has regularly competed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and, following several Silver and Silver Gilt medals, she won her first gold medal in 2010.
And, while we’re on the topic, it’s worth giving you a bit of history on The Flower Guild of The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel, which has a wide membership of flower arrangers from around the South East, who are committed to creating colour, style, and texture in the chapel on a weekly basis. This demonstration has arisen from a desire to encourage those interested in creating works of floral art in this National Memorial and to remember those who gave their lives in 1982. The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel is a ‘living memorial’ to those who lost their lives in 1982 and is used daily by Pangbourne College as a place for quiet reflection, for services, and for musical events, including an international concert series.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA