Hot Topics September 2018

Fiona welcomed 63 members back and 5 guests and hoped everyone had a good summer. She opened the meeting with a few notices:

We have had a letter from the Chairman of Surrey Federation thanking us for our contribution to the Pollinator evening at RHS Wisley in June which was a great success.

There is ‘The March of the Women Community Day’ on Saturday, 24th November (10.00 – 4.00) at Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking. Tickets are free but please book online at or phone 01483518737.

London Surrey WI Advisors had a meeting at Sherwood Grange Care Home about how the residents could be involved with local groups. It is felt this could possibly work if the WI could take extra activities to the care home i.e. craft group, coffee morning, games afternoon etc., on a regular basis. Please let us know if you have any ideas or could help in any way.

The 2 summer fairs we were present at i.e. Morden Family Fun Day and Wimbledon and Putney Commons Open Day were both a great success and we raised over £1,100 – we would have raised more at the Open Day but, unfortunately, we ran out of cakes by lunchtime!!! Fiona gave bouquet of flowers to Veronica and Angela for all their hard work.

Next month’s meeting, 15th October, will be our 10th Anniversary when we will be having a social evening including finger food, drinks, birthday cake, entertainment and an auction of a handmade dress.

Once again, we will be laying a joint wreath with SW19 WI on Sunday, 11th November, at Wimbledon Memorial in Wimbledon Village. It would be lovely if you could join us.

The November meeting will be our AGM and re-election of committee members. Please let us know if you would like to stand – it would be lovely to have you.

We will be having Henry VIII back for our December (17th) meeting but this time he will coming as a Christmas Elf so, no doubt, it will be a fun evening.

One of our guests today, Mirella, is a volunteer at the British Red Cross charity shop in Wimbledon Village. They are looking for volunteers to help in the shop. Please let us know if you can help when we will put you in touch with Mirella.

Social Events:
Watts Gallery, Friday, 19th October – PLEASE NOTE THIS TRIP HAS BEEN CANCELLED
Kew Gardens (Christmas Lights), Thursday, 22nd November 6.00pm (£16.50) – Now full, waiting list only.
Christmas Meal at Taste Restaurant, Tuesday, 4th December (£30) – A few places available.
Fullers Brewery, Chiswick, Wednesday, 23rd January (£18)
Please let Gillian know as soon as possible if you would like a place on any of the above.

SW19 WI are holding an Autumn Village Fair on Saturday, 22nd September from 12.00 to 4.00 at Emmanuel Church, 24 Ridgway.

Send Inspired WI – Tea Party Invitation: We have been invited to the next tea party “Once upon a time” at Send Inspired WI, to be held on Friday 2 November. Send Inspired WI is one of our prison WI’s, and if you wish to attend then please contact Dina and please arrive by 1.15pm and have photo ID with you, and £1.00 for the raffle.

London WI Advisors: We have been asked to let you know that on Friday, 30th November 2018, Surrey Federation are planning a trip to Greenwich market, a blue badge guided river cruise to Westminster pier, a coach guided trip round the lights in London and then supper at the Strand Palace Hotel. This costs £49 all included.
This is a fantastic value trip and the London WI Advisors have arranged for members who live in London to meet in Greenwich without having to travel out to the Surrey pick up points i.e. meet the rest of the group in Greenwich and leave them after the Strand Palace Hotel. Please contact us for further details etc.

It has also been suggested that, if enough members can meet at Greenwich beforehand, a local history guide is arranged to show members round for an hour before the Surrey members arrive.

Queen’s Birthday card: An opportunity to design a card for the Queen’s Birthday. The final design should be A5 size and be completed by 1st March 2019. Anyone interested please contact us for further information.

Craft News: Another consignment of dresses, teddies, jumpers, hats etc., will be going out to Kenya in November. So just to let you know, if you have any please bring them to the October meeting. Thank you for those received already.

Book Sale: £19.50 was made at Monday’s booksale. Thank you to everyone who brought in books to sell and to those buying them.

Salvation Army: Eileen and Lesley met with Emma of Mitcham Salvation Arm. They run a cafe every Tuesday morning to support ladies who have left abusive relationships and are making a new start. We discussed how we could offer support. They do require things like kitchenware and bedding etc., but they have limited storage so we agreed that they would contact us when they need items. They also have volunteers who accompany the ladies to court hearings etc., to give support. We also discussed the possibility of donating our Christmas toy and present collection to them this year. They ask for donations and then hold a session where the mothers can choose the presents, wrap them and give them to their children in their name.
As this was an initial meeting, the committee will discuss further and we hope that Emma might be able to come to talk to us about their work in the New Year.
We will give further information when we have it.

2018 Charity: Catriona and Raymond, representatives of our chosen charity, Carers Support Merton, were delighted to receive our cheque for £1440.54 and thanked us all for our efforts and said that some of the money would be spent on outings for the young carers; some of whom are only 5 years old.

William French, speaker for the evening, certainly gave us an entertaining time on Monday with his resume of his life and work. After getting his brother to forge his mother’s signature on his sign up papers, William joined the Royal Navy at 15. He trained as a chef but soon realised he wanted to be “on show” and retrained to become a No.1 steward. He later graduated to personal steward to a senior office at NATO HQ where he saw action in the Falklands aboard HMS Battleaxe and HMS Broadsword. After the conflict he worked as a Leading Steward for a short while before attending a 6 hour interview and subsequently being appointed Royal Class Steward on the Royal Yacht Britannia. This opened up a new world for William as not only was he serving the Queen and Prince Philip, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York, he went on many of the royal tours around the world. Later he moved to Kensington Palace as ‘breakfast butler’ and he was at the Ritz Hotel in Paris on the night of Princess Diana’s tragic accident.
William was also serving on Royal Yacht Brittania on passage to New Zealand for Royal Duty in Jan 1986 when fighting between the Government and rival Marxist factions had broken out in the former British Colony of Aden. With the full agreement of Her Majesty, Britannia proceeded to the Aden area and prepared to evacuate British and Commonwealth nationals. Before she resumed her voyage to New Zealand Britannia had rescued 1,082 people of the overall total of 1,379 of 55 nationalities saved by the British ships.
William went on to work for the Rothschild family, Lord Rothermere in Eton Square, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Sean Connery to name just a few. William also had a few saucy tales to tell us and probably knows a lot more he couldn’t.

We have just heard from William that £158.60 was raised on Monday in donations for Medical Detection. His fee also went to that charity.