By Stephanie Richardson - 9th March 2019 7:33am
Ed: This is the first of a multipart report of this special W.I. occasion. More will appear in the next few days. Please click on the photos to get the full benefit of an expanded version.
A Force to be Reckoned With — Part 1
Never underestimate the importance of celebrating. The power that parties have to raise morale is inestimable and life's so much more fun when you stop to appreciate both the big and the small milestones of life.
For the past year a WI Centenary Committee, chaired by Doreen Hubbard and her Merry Women, Kath Disley, Ann Pearce, Sue Davies, Margaret Wells, Suzie Warren and myself had been set up to organise a day to remember. Efficiency is never an accident, it is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort after all, it takes real forethought to organise the type of chaos we were envisaging!
Everybody knows that the swiftest form of communication is not twitter or email, but by passing information on via a woman, so with the words 'Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.' ringing in our heads, we hit the ground running and organised caterers — Tory Russell who's mother is Nan Campbell, a friend of Ann Pearce; Photographers — AudlemOnline printed a cry for help resulting in Josh Sedgley and his father Graham offering their services; researched for a permanent memento — a local pottery designed us a mug, a real one, not the ones we have aimlessly hanging around the streets; and finally, the onerous task of decorating the hall was divided out according to our talents — easy as pie? You must be joking!
On top of all this frenetic organising, a dedicated group headed by Lin Nicholas, Doreen Hubbard, Ann Pearce and Sue Davies spent hours ploughing through our archives to create an informative display for every decade, and our own in house talent, Anne Watson, was called upon for some unique table flower arrangements.
By this point we had no shame, anyone who could help was cornered, one thing we do have in our armoury is tact — an ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they will look forward to the trip!
Armed with the knowledge that this committee had sweated blood, tears, sherry, and possibly gin but who's counting, our loyal WI members rose to the occasion and put on their best frilly party pants and headed to the Scout & Guide Hall for 'The Celebration of the Century'.........literally!
Sometimes you run into people who change your life for the better, sometimes these people are called bartenders, but mostly they are called friends!
My husband considers he has a true friendship when he walks into someone's house and his WiFi connects automatically. When I depart this life in anticipation of even more fun in the next one, I will ensure that wi-fi is fixed to my gravestone to encourage him to visit!
For WI ladies friendship is the wine of life, we took the recent 'Dry January' to heart and only drank dry wine, dry gin and dry sherry. We never follow trends as we like to start them, and mostly ignore health warnings as we've already made it to our 'middle ages'!
The uniqueness of our village accepts as normal the sight of over sixty determined ladies — I said determined, not demented — marching in full flow wearing a variety of garish outfits representing their chosen decade of the last century.
Normally our style is definitely schizophrenic as we change from day to day depending on our moods, but a three line whip had gone out from our President, the very same lady who had fallen face down in the mud whilst selflessly planting 2000 snowdrops on our behalf at St James' Church, so who were we to ignore her plea to dress up ( or down )?
Usually men are generally more law-abiding than women. Women have the feeling that since they generally don't make the rules, the rules have nothing to do with them, but
on this occasion no-one was going to let the side down when they were attending a function of such enormous magnitude.
Those ladies who couldn't walk comfortably in their outfits, mainly the mini skirted ( our legs are not quite what they used to be, although they can still turn heads but for all the wrong reasons ) shamelessly flagged down bemused pantechnicon drivers.
After all, if these people want to drive recklessly through our village using it as a short cut, then they have to take the consequences, even if it does cause minor alterations to their tachographs and petrol consumption. At least they enabled our members to alight graciously via automatic tailgates, decorum intact!
Margaret Wells, one of our more loquacious members, headed for Crewe Station, madly waving a copy of ' WI Life ' to ensure she picked up the right person and not some random male that she may have fancied. Selflessly, she had resprayed her car in gold, packed her red welcoming stair carpet in the boot all ready to pick up Lynne Stubbings, our illustrious NFWI Chairman and honoured guest, who was arriving from London.
As an important member of the WI, Her Majesty was also invited, however she appeared to be otherwise engaged. Perhaps her WI Centenary Celebration at Sandringham could not be topped? Let's face it, how does a WI with only 31 members afford Alexander Armstrong as a speaker?
However she politely sent her apologies with an explanation that Phillip was unavailable to chauffeur her, something about a seat belt fitting and a relinquished driving licence?
I bet she was gutted to miss our historical day.
And so the celebrations began.............
Tuesday 19th Mar
Scout & Guide Hall
Audlem Methodist Church