Elsenham News Articles

Elsenham News is a monthly publication deivered to every home in Elsenham. It is produced by Elsenham Comminuty Association

Elsenham News - Sept 2017 - It's a funny old Summer...

Well it’s been a funny old Summer – you want sun and you get a heatwave, you hope for rain and you get torrents!


We have had a quieter month – lots of preparations behind the scenes getting ready for our Summer Party, the Flower Show and even preparing for Santa 2017. Our Natter Nights continue to be well attended. This month is our last Thursday get-together until spring as we switch to the first Wednesday monthly from October to April. As always the Bowls club make us extremely welcome  - in return we are happy to share cake!


Bookworms – our book club, continues and our reading list is ever varied including classics and newly published. Our October read is ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop then in November we tackle the highly acclaimed ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Attwood.  We meet on the second Friday of the month at the Bowls Club.


Our last meeting was anything but quiet. The charming Paul Martin came along to entertain us with tales of his life – everything from his days studying drama to his time as a Drag Artist. Highlight had to be his rendition of ‘La Vie En Rose’ accompanying himself on his pink ukulele. Paul is a superb showman and extremely endearing. He is set to visit again and next time will wear his heels!


Our membership is still growing – over the past two months we have had 6 new members taking our numbers close to that in the 50’s when we peaked at 70. Always delighted to have new friends come along and join us.


Our next meeting is a workshop from those amazing people at Craft Days in Saffron Walden. Jane will be showing us how to create something fabulous. Our competition is a great opportunity to bring along something you have crafted – anything from needlecraft to woodwork!!

Elsenham News - May 2017 - Vintage Games

Our last meeting was our Vintage Games night – and what a night it was! I have never seen Snakes and Ladders played quite so competitively. Shove ha’penny turned out to need a lot more skill that any of us remembered and Twister was certainly an eye-opener with medics on stand-by but thankfully not needed! We had joint winners with last year’s champion Yvonne Bentley and Jo Lushey both going home with a trophy.


We have been out and about quite a lot – Essex Federation Annual Meeting found us in the company of almost 2,000 WI members and speakers, actor Alex Jennings and Anton du Beke enthralled us. Many of us attended the WI Fair held this year at Alexandria Palace where among the many stalls we tried toffee vodka, chocolate wine and rhubarb gin, we bought kitchen gadgets and tried a variety of different crafts. We had a lovely day out at Coton Orchard Garden Centre – and our gardens look all the better for it too. Coming up – a Cinema Club outing, Hylands House Flower show, a bread-making course at Harlow and a visit to the Phoenix Theatre to see ‘The Girls’ Musical.


Our Annual Meeting takes place on 18 May.  It’s a busy meeting where we have a look back at our year then look ahead to the coming year when we choose a new committee.  We also have our say in which of our Resolutions (Alleviating Loneliness and Plastic Soup) should go forward in June to the National Federation of WI’s Annual Meeting in Liverpool and form the basis of our campaign for the coming year.  Loneliness affects all age groups and men and women equally and this resolution raises awareness of the problem and encourages us all to take a proactive approach – more about this next month.  Plastic soup deals with the effect on the marine environment by releasing microfibres from acrylic and other synthetic materials into the water system. To allow a full discussion on this we managed to fit in an extra meeting last month where Lindsey Peters very capably steered us through the pros and cons of both Resolutions.  After all of that we will definitely be ready to enjoy the ‘Bring and Share’ buffet.

Elsenham News - April 2017 - Nazing Hand Bell Ringers

Spring would appear to be upon us if the spring bulbs on show all over Elsenham are anything to go by.  That certainly wasn’t the case on the day of our last meeting.

As well as being on ‘Doris Day’ (so, sadly, some members couldn’t make it due to transport disruptions), our February meeting was ‘Members’ Day.’ This is the one meeting in the year that is organised by a group of our members rather than the committee. This year, the group themed their meeting around the national #Show the Love campaign as, throughout February, people across the country showed their love for all the things that are affected by climate change through the power of green hearts. The entertainment for the evening came from Nazeing Church hand bell ringers. As well as entertaining us with a diverse range of tunes, the group instructed a team of WI ‘’volunteers’. Judging by the looks of concentration on everyone’s faces, it’s not as easy as it looks!

The evening’s buffet, drinks and raffle were all themed around #ShowTheLove so there were heart shaped macarons, a punch with green fruit and a green cheeseboard. The flowers that decorated the tables continued the theme but added purple to green and white to make the colours of the WI.

The group also held a ‘Recycle an Accessory’ bring and buy – again as a way of conserving what we have by recycling and reusing. It was also a very convenient excuse to buy a ‘new’ scarf or handbag!

All money raised during the evening will be donated to a conservation project in the village.

Many of our members have been busy out and about.  We were well represented at the village ‘Great British Spring Clean’ and also at the Million Women Rise March along Oxford Street in London where we joined forces with our sister WI’s from Somerset.

Our monthly craft evenings are open to non-members - if you would like to find out how to crochet or knit (or just come for a good old chat) please give me a call and I can tell you more about it.

The highlight of our next meeting on Thursday, 20 April is Tim Wreghitt, a speaker new to the WI circuit.  His talk ‘Making A Stand For Chelsea’ gives a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to exhibit at Chelsea Flower Show where his area of expertise was medicinal plants.  The competition for the meeting is a bunch of herbs.

Elsenham News - March 2017 - Shooting Star Line Dancing

After all the coughs and colds that have been doing the rounds, our meeting in January was just what we needed to get us all back on our feet – literally. Our fabulous Denise Shipp and her Shooting Star Line Dancers had us all up dancing.  A great start to our 2017 Programme – 12 meetings plus many additional activities, regular outings and events.

One of those events is our annual New Year Dinner.  This was held at Hunters Meet in Hatfield Heath and the 35 members who came along had a great night. We enjoyed wonderful food, friendly service and best of all – another chance to dance away the winter chills. There were a few sore heads the next day and many pairs of sore feet too!

We said a fond farewell to Val Shaida, who with her husband Hussein has moved from Elsenham to pastures new.  Val and Hussein have been involved with many aspects of village life and will be sorely missed. Val has been a member of our WI for many years, served on the committee and was a much-loved president.  While president, Val managed to give a talk on Elsenham WI while on a visit to New Zealand and was very well received by a WI there.

Our meeting this month is on Thursday, 16 March and it’s a Vintage Games evening when we can re-live our early years playing snakes and ladders, shove ha’penny, Twister and many, many more with a trophy up for grabs.

As well as our meeting our other monthly activities include Natter Night, Cinema Club, Ladies Who Lunch and a book club. Bookworms latest read was ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by JK Rowling (very appropriate considering the timing of the by-election!) - next month’s book choice is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Elsenham News - June 2016 - Joanne Croxford

It was with great sadness we learned of the death of John Segar and on behalf of all our members I would like to pass on our heartfelt condolences to Lyn and her family.

Over the years we have hosted many fantastic events, workshops and speakers. Our last meeting proved to be exceptional and stands out as one of our most memorable evenings. The fabulous Joanne Croxford came along to talk about ‘Walking Alongside Inspiring Women in Recovery – How the WI Has Changed My Life’. Joanne told us about her upbringing in Canada, her career in both the fashion and music, and spoke openly of her dependency on drugs, her recovery and what being a member of the WI has meant to her.  Her honesty was breathtaking, humbling and inspiring. Joanne brought her aunt and cousin, Rita and Claire and it was lovely have them join us for the evening.

This month’s meeting on 21 June is an exciting one.  We will be hosting our very first ‘Great Elsenham WI Bake-Off’. Some of our members will be competing in a ‘Star Bake’ challenge – they have 45 minutes to decorate a cake. This fiercely fought competition is to be judged by Petrina Lees and Elaine Terry so we are looking forward to their comments (they have yet to decide who is Mary Berry and who is Paul Hollywood!). A wonderful trophy is up for grabs and it is sure to be an entertaining event.

So, what else is happening in June? Our ‘Posh Frocks and Hats’ Garden party takes place on Friday 3rd in Val and Hussein Shaida’s beautiful garden. We can be found on our stall on the 11th at the Village Fete (and also in the kitchen) and we will be represented at the Flower Festival at St Mary’s Church over the weekend of 18/19th. Our Ladies Who Lunch next get together on Thursday 30th.


Elsenham News Article - May 2016 - Manic Ceramics

The last meeting was a revelation – I never realized we had so many talented and creative members! Debbie and Kirstie from Manic Ceramics in Hertford came along and had us decorating plates, pots, bowls and mugs – and what a selection of art-works we had. Dog bowls, birthday mugs, pizza plates and flowerpots abounded! We were shown how to paint flowers, rabbits and bees using cotton buds and fingerprints. We were all delighted with the finished products, which were fired in the kiln at Manic Ceramics. 

Our ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ event was well attended as ever and it was our pleasure to be joined by our friends from Manuden WI. The Brasserie excelled in terms of food and service.  We will return there in May for our ‘Dames Who Dine’ night out – based on the previous very successful evening there we are looking forward to a bumper turn out, great company, more delicious food and even a liquid refreshment or two!

This month’s meeting on 19 May is our Annual meeting – a chance to see democracy ‘WI Style’ in action.   For the last 2 months our members have been nominating who they would like to have on our committee and we finally get to vote at this meeting. We choose a committee annually and from the new committee a president is chosen. We also vote on the two remaining resolutions, ‘Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia’ and ‘Avoid food waste, address food poverty’ – If both resolutions achieve a majority of ‘for’ votes nationwide the National Federation of Women’s Institutes will campaign on both issues. Our lovely Donna Perraton will be bringing along some of her fabulous jewellery as she visits us for the last time before she moves with her family to Cornwall – we will all miss her. Competition is your favourite piece of jewellery and there will be a ‘bring and share’ buffet.

So, what else is happening in May? We have our first ever attempt at gliding on 11 May as well as our regular Nordic Walking group every Tuesday plus Natter Night on the first Thursday.


Elsenham News - April 2016 - Vintage Games - WI Style...

I am writing this on a beautiful sunny morning – hope this is a sign of a good Spring and Summer.

Our Vintage Games Night went well – Jenga and snakes and ladders being the most competitively fought and Twister and pinning the tail on the donkey producing the most hysteria! At the end of the allocated time we had a clear winner – huge well done to Yvonne Bentley, first winner of our trophy!

We held our Natter Night at the Bowls Club this month.  Natter Night has proven so popular that a bigger venue was required – many thanks to all at the Bowls Club for coming to our aid and making us feel so welcome. We had a visit from Lesley Cox, Senior Sister at Addenbrookes A&E who happily accepted the first batch of baby blankets we have been making for them.  The idea came from Barbara Pether whose friend Judy Jarrett (Lesley’s mum) has been making blankets for some time. I am sure Lesley will be coming back very soon for more.

Last year when we were compiling our programme we asked our members who or what they would like for our monthly meetings.  Top of the list was ‘Inspiring Women’ and our next meeting on Thursday 21 April really fits the bill. Joanne Croxford, former president of Cambridge Blue Belles WI and founder of Daisy Change WI is coming along to chat to us. Her talk is titled ‘Walking Alongside Inspiring Women in Recovery – How the WI Has Changed My Life’ and is sure to be a good one.  Our competition, to fit in with Jo’s connection with Daisy Change WI is a hand-crafted daisy – any medium, just made by you!!

What else is on this month?  We have a trip to Hanningfield Smokehouse on Saturday 16th and Ladies Who Lunch on 28th.  We have another of our Coffee, Cake and Computer events at the Bean House Café in Stansted on 25 April. If you need any help using your phone, tablet or laptop (personal use only) come along – it’s a self-help group so we can pick up tips from each other. We now have (at time of writing) 51 members; the highest our membership has been for many years and includes 5 new members this year already! If you are interested in coming along please contact me.


Elsenhan News - February 2016 - Fun, fun, fun...

Our first monthly meeting of 2016 had a fabulous turnout despite a very stormy night. We were kept busy with our members queuing up to pay this year’s subscriptions plus 5 new members joined our ranks.

We had a visit from Darren Fuller, Essex Community Fundraiser for the Royal British Legion, thanking us for our efforts with the poppies we knitted and crocheted. What an inspiring man and he gave us an insight into how the British Legion helps ex-servicemen and their families.

We were treated to a wonderful demonstration of line dancing by Denise Shipp and her Shooting Stars dancers – then it was our turn! There was a packed floor and despite a few of us not knowing our right from our left we attempted two dances. A few bruises and bumps - no major injuries were reported, and bags of style! We enjoyed it so much that quite a few of us are now attending Denise’s Absolute Beginners class in the Memorial Hall on a Monday.

Our programme for 2016 was revealed – everything from painting pottery, playing washboards, Christmas table decorations, a bake-off competition and many other delights arranged for our monthly meetings.  As well as our programme we have additional events taking place throughout the year.  There are some excellent workshops and events organised by WI Essex held at County head quarters in Hatfield Peverel that we regularly attend. For further information about our programme and coming along to any of our events please contact me. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Our latest excuse (as if we needed one) to get dressed up and have a night out took place at the end of January in the guise of a New Year Dinner.  This year we enjoyed the delights of The Brasserie, Lower Street, Stansted – good food, great company and Elsenham WI certainly know how to sparkle!

Our meeting this month includes a visit from Sarah Smith who has a pottery studio in Hertfordshire.  She will be running a workshop where we can decorate pottery items. Our competition is ‘your favourite piece of pottery’ – no doubt there will be a few surprises here!

What else do we have this month? Natter Night is our monthly craft evening where we share skills and see what everyone is making.  Our Nordic Walking Group meets 2pm every Tuesday in the top car park at the Playing Field and enjoys many different routes around our village led by Jacqui Tipton. Ladies Who Lunch has a monthly outing to The Brasserie on the 24th.  If you would like more information about any of our events please give me a call.


Happy New Year...

Happy New Year!! I’m never sure when it’s too late to use this greeting. As it is the first WI article of the year I’m sure I’ll get away with it.

Elsenham WI had a great year in 2015. We have a fabulous banner made by five of our members under the careful guidance of Anne Player.  We asked our members what Elsenham WI meant to them and the panels on the banner represent what they told us plus a few delightful additions making it very appropriate to Elsenham. We ended our year with a fabulous Christmas Party and a visit from a very special guest - not Father Christmas but the wonderful John Segar who told us about the highs and lows of poppy selling.  The party continued with hat making, quizzes, impromptu sing-songs and a sumptuous festive feast.

2016 promises to be just as good - our new programme for this year includes pottery workshops, playing the washboard, hearing from inspirational women and men and our 95th birthday party! All this and more for just £37.50 a year. Our membership almost doubled in 2015 and we now have around 50 members.  If you would like to come along as a visitor your first visit is free and subsequent visits are £5. 

As our membership increases so do the numbers coming along to our Natter Nights. This is our craft evening where we bring anything we are making, ask advice, learn new crafts – all from our members.  This has become so popular we now hold these evenings in The Crown.  It is open to non-members so if you would like to learn to crochet or need advice on quilting, please come along – you will be guaranteed a warm welcome.

We have a number of projects to keep us busy.  Our poppies raised £2,800 for the local Poppy Appeal and we are already making more for next year.  Our ‘Made With Love’ blanket project has resulted in the first delivery of baby blankets to Addenbrooks Hospital and will continue throughout the year.  There is a really exciting project just starting – think Christmas markets and you will be close!!

Ladies Who Lunch continues this month – Thursday 11 February is our next outing to The Brasserie in Stansted.

What else this month? Our February meeting looks promising!  Who remembers playing card and board games as a child – well this is your chance to relive your childhood. Buckaroo, Scrabble, Old Maid, Frustration, Jenga, Kerplunk - and of course Twister! Our Vintage Games Night is set to be fun either as a competitor or as a spectator. There will be a prize for the winner of the Games League.

For further information about our programme and coming along to any of our events our contact details are at the back of the magazine. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Elsenham WI – There’s a lot going on!

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