W.I Centenary Celebrations

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Audlem WI July Celebratory Centenary Meeting

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.

Thus it was with our July Centenary meeting, much publicised, greatly anticipated by over 100 ladies and potentially the highlight of our year — until disaster struck!

Working on the theory that if everything seems to be going well then we have obviously overlooked something, two days before the event the Flower Diva's delivery lorry was stuck somewhere between France and Dover, due to the ferry workers strike, we still hadn't found anyone to help us maneuver two heavy platform pieces from the church to the Scout and Guide Hut and we discovered that the Beavers were holding their meeting at the time that we had anticipated arranging the chairs and tables for the meeting, and, saving the worst catastrophe until last, there was a rumour that Aldi were running out of Pimm's due to the hot weather!

Fear not ladies, pausing to take deep breathes out of brown paper bags, your WI committee took on each of these challenges whilst wondering whether they were going to work or whether they were going to fall flat on their faces, which obviously would allow us a different perspective on the problems!

Now a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles, so dealing with the main problem first, Joyce Clydesdale, one of our WI unsung heroes who, with apparently magical force keeps us all invisibly spinning in the powerful orbit around her, volunteered herself immediately to take on the solemn quest of purchasing at least 15 bottles of Pimm's together with huge quantities of lemonade, ice, mint, strawberries and cheese straws — we were not going down without a fight.

Secondly, working on the principle that feminine persuasion works better than brute force, we contacted Mark Collis-Smith, who is not only handsome and strong, but as an added benefit has a trailer, and he agreed to help us with the staging. Mark hardly broke sweat as we transported the staging from the church to the hall, which was more than I can say for myself! A heartfelt thank you Mark.

The full disastrous potential of failing to deliver our flowers was made known to the lorry driver in Calais, who moved heaven and earth to power his way through the strike and, using our combined WI powers, (if you can't stir with the big girls, step away from the cauldron,) our prayers were answered, and somehow the Flower Divas were able to take their delivery. The lorry driver is now in recovery, but doing well!

As each disastrous problem was ticked off the list, our President, Lin Nicholas, valiantly bit the bullet and contacted the Beaver's group leaders, who kindly agreed to take their troop out to the park to play games so that we could arrange our tables. However once again disaster struck as the heavens opened and the poor Beavers looked on confusingly as the hall doors opened to people staggering in with staging and flowers, interrupting their normal meeting! Jean Cook valiantly stayed on to keep watch over the flowers.

Thank you Beaver Scouts, and especially their leaders who were so accommodating.

Finally we were ready for the evening. The Flower Divas arrived and set up their stand, Pat Smith meditated in preparation for the expected surge in raffle ticket sales, Kath Disley manned the doors in anticipation of a run on ticket sales and the indomitable Joyce moved mountains of ice, fruit, lemonade, mint and Pimm's into pint glasses. Let it never be said that the WI is frugal in its hospitality.

Our guests and members arrived early in order to gain access to the best seats. Fortunately ladies have that finite ability to access and balance their drinks, whilst purchasing raffle tickets and stretching their handbags and coats over several seats to accommodate their friends — it takes years of practice, but I think we have it down to a fine art now!

The meeting opened with June Perry, crammed into her piano seat, fortunately she is very dainty, tickling the ivories to what is probably the loudest version of Jerusalem that the Scout and Guide Hut has ever heard. Business and the minutes were kept to a minimum — well done Doreen Hubbard — and then the highly anticipated main event began.

The theme of the evening was '100 years of Flower Arranging,' and Dominique Noonan and Sam Burdon from The Flower Divas had certainly done their research!

Dominique said that they had never given a talk to such a large group, but given the level of their professionalism, we would never have known this, as Dominique explained how flower arranging had evolved over the last century, and how the Arts and Craft movement, Constance Spry, and numerous other influences had changed floral ideas throughout this period.

As Dominique's talk moved through the century, Sam completed flower arrangements, which were complimentary to each era with unflappable ease, each arrangement placed to one side for later perusal by the aldies present. They were both totally at ease with their audience and were happy to answer several questions from the floor as they went along — especially about glue guns!

In no time at all, although it was in reality an hour and a half, they had completed five beautiful arrangements, which were raffled off to five lucky members of the audience. A vote of thanks was given and then they had the onerous task of judging our monthly competition, which was 'a photo of a flower.'

Pat Smith won first prize, Sheila Webster came second and Anne Watson came third.

To finish off the evening, birthday flowers were given out to our members, Pat Smith's flowers are always a joy to receive, and it only remained for the rest of the committee including Sue Davies, Jackie Creber and Christine Salisbury to clear the decks ready for the following day — a woman's work is never done!

See you all in August.