Monday, 12 February 2018

More about our 2017 charity MHAGS

SHWI’s chosen charity for 2017 was Mental Health Action Group Sheffield (MHAGS). The charity started as a campaign group set up by Dorothy Gilman in the 1980’s under the name Mental Illness Action Group. In 1992 Tim Jones set MHAGS up as a day centre after NHS cuts resulted in the partial closures of mental health day centres across the local region. Tim still volunteers at MHAGS as lead campaigner and project coordinator, and was there to show me around their Hillsborough based premises when I went to visit them.

They currently run as a drop-in centre, providing hot meals (with food donations from Fareshare) and support to local people who are suffering from mental health conditions. Some of MHAGS’s service users are not just affected by mental health conditions, but also learning difficulties and other disabilities. In the past, MHAGS were able to offer day trips, activities and workshops to their service users, as well as access to psychiatric nurses who would be put on placement with the charity. The walls of MHAGS HQ are covered in artwork made by service users in the past. There’s a trophy shelf showing off the accomplishments of the sports teams MHAGS used to run. The office has files full of photographs developed in the darkroom MHAGS used to have.

Unfortunately, Sheffield Council are no longer funding MHAGS and now they do not have the money to run the charity in the same way they did in the past. Having been based in the city centre for many years, MHAGS is now less conveniently located up a hill on the Langsett Estate. Whilst the building itself has disabled access, the new location has proved difficult for some service users to get to. They are looking to start new groups in the near future in order to support their service users, such as a gardening group and a tropical fish-keeping group – the main room in the centre is full of donated tanks of beautiful tropical fish.

But the reality is that without funding, MHAGS wil have to close. This is a unique, “user-led” centre providing friendly support to some of the most vulnerable adults in Sheffield.

Therefore, I just want to thank everyone and anyone who has helped us raise money for MHAGS in the past 12 months. We’ve raised over £3000 for them so far and the final total will be made available in March.

If you want to learn more about them, check out 

Laura B-H

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Welcome to 2018!

After the success of our January 2017 meeting – we decided to do the same thing again! A relaxed crafty catch-up allowing new and existing members to say “hello”, grab a cup of tea and a homemade bake, then settle down to their chosen workshop if they were feeling crafty.

It's fair to say the start of the meeting wasn’t as smooth as usual due to a mix up with room bookings and some issues with the floor being freshly glued down – but the committee pulled it together and made it work as they always do!

Once we’d settled down and covered “the business” (local and national federation news), this year saw us make a new batch of bunting for SHWI. We still have our bunting banners which members made at a meeting a few years ago and they get used at a lot of our fundraising events. But you can never have too much bunting! So I prepared a load of fabric triangles and invited members to bring any crafty bits and bobs lying around at home to make our bunting look extra fabulous. Meeting Host and sewing guru Cat was in charge of our “bunting station” and has very kindly offered her skills to string them all together.

Fundraising and Events lady Jodie taught members how to “finger-knit” necklaces out of t-shirt yarn – which looked rather fiddly, but plenty of ladies were sporting a new handmade necklace by the end of the evening. Maybe it was just me who couldn’t find the patience to get one done!

Secretary Bex set up a mindful colouring in station for anyone who didn’t fancy getting arty with fabric.

I was supposed to be running an introduction to crochet – but ended up running around all meeting sorting things out and nosying at what everyone else was doing – so big thanks to SHWI members Liz and Holly who stepped up and took over with the teaching.

As President, I feel totally okay saying this meeting really was an example of SHWI at their best – all members working together to get things done, a lovely buzzy but friendly atmosphere and the creation of beautiful handmade things. What a wonderful way to start the year! Here’s to an awesome 2018!

Laura B-H

Monday, 13 November 2017

Happy birthday SHWI!

Our beloved WI turned 8 last month, and we celebrated in style with member Di's Famous SHWI Pie (quite literally, it's in a nationally available cookbook), which lasted all of about 3.5 minutes.

Before and after...
There was also plenty of delicious cake of course, it was our birthday after all! And obviously there's no way I'm passing up the chance to share a Colin the Caterpillar photo...
Birthday cake!
Business as usual came first, and it was a big one this month as at the start of the meeting this year's wonderful president Grace handed over the baton to the fantastic and enigmatic Laura B-H. Grace has done an absolutely amazing job and we all wish her lots of love as she steps down from the presidency. We're all excited to see what Laura will bring to the role though and I have a feeling it's going to be a corker of a year!
VP Rachel and Grace
On to the meeting activity which this month was led by our very own Bex, who taught us all about the history of Dorset buttons, a crafted style of button originating from the county of Dorset, would you believe! We learnt that one of the most popular buttons amongst our 18th century contemporaries was the Dorset knob (also, amusingly, a rare type of biscuit).

Unsure which of these, if any, is a knob...
We then had a crack at making our own brooch version of the Dorset button, with varying degrees of success it has to be said - me personally needing 4 different people to get me as far as having a threaded needle (it had been a long day) but with many others around the room creating beautiful and delicate designs which looked stunning once finished! So simple once you get the hang of it but a very effective little craft and a well-timed lesson for us to all get going on some unique stocking fillers. Thank you Bex for your fun, informative and very patient tuition!

Here's to another brilliant year with this amazing girl gang!

Laura Rangeley
Communications Co-Ordinator

CSI: Sheffield

As a true crime nerd, crime drama fan and upholder of the law (admittedly, health and safety legislation) I could not have been more excited for our August meeting! We welcomed two ladies from Huddersfield based Think Forensic ( who brought a case full of crime scene investigating goodies for us to play with.

But before we got our Horatio Caine on, we welcomed Cavendish Cancer Care, who we presented with a cheque for £300! Whilst not our 2017 charity, CCC were kind enough to let us share their charity stall at this year’s Sunfest. Money made from our boozey bake sale was split between SHWI’s chosen charity Mental Health Action Group Sheffield and Abbeydale Brewery’s chosen charity, Cavendish Cancer Care.

First up for Think Forensic, CSI Sue gave a little presentation showing all the fun stuff they get up to at their centre in West Yorkshire. This included checking out a variety of crime scenes and looking at bloody splatter patterns by whacking dummy heads in until red paint flies out. Who doesn’t want to pretend to be Dexter?

Of course, testing out blood splatter patterns isn’t really appropriate in a church hall – so we started off by learning about footprints! Turns out CSIs are unlikely to give an exact foot size when looking at footprints as the environment can distort them. In fact – CSIs try to be as non-specific as possible when giving evidence in case it comes back to bite them in court. So a black fibre found at a crime scene would be noted as “dark coloured fibre” just in case the defence try to argue specifics. Committee member Victoria volunteered her shoe for a demonstration and sunk her foot into some foamy polystyrene that was then filled in with a quick drying orangey substance. It was dry enough an hour later for her to take home! A unique paperweight methinks.

Next up we looked at fingerprints. We all had the chance to take our own fingerprints using black tiles and squirrel hair brushes pre-loaded with powder. We also learnt that there are hundreds of powders available to CSIs, to handle all the different colours and textures of materials that need testing – including magnetic powder for paperwork and fluorescent coloured powders that I wanted to stash in my makeup bag.

Our last demonstration looked at hair and fibres. CSIs can take a sample of hair and tell you if it belongs to a human (and what race they are) or an animal (and what animal it is!) Apparently, rabbit hair is the prettiest to look at. We looked at teeny slices of human hair and cross sections of animal hair, and various types of fibres before moving on to THE COOLEST TOY I HAVE EVER SEEN CONNECTED TO A LAPTOP. A super tiny microscopic camera that focuses on an area the size of a pin prick. SHWIers volunteered their sweaters so the group could see what type of fibres were involved in the clothing. Then Sue started putting the camera in volunteer’s hair – she could tell what product they had used on their bonce! As a group of mature and sensible ladies, you’ll be pleased to know we all resisted the urge to shove the camera anywhere unsavoury.

Laura Bainbridge-Hattersley
SHWI Secretary (and Health & Safety Advisor)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sheffield loves a bit of sauce…..and so does SHWI!

Our June meeting saw us being joined by Ian Reddington, actor, former Tricky Dicky (never died on screen!) and film maker, to screen his documentary ‘Relish’!

SHWI members with Ian
Henderson’s Relish (aka Hendo’s) is a Sheffield legend -  a condiment-based elixir which holds a special place in the hearts of Sheffielders.

Ian, like the majority of natives to the city, grew up with Henderson’s Relish and had fond memories of the factory in the city centre and the sauce in the cupboard at home. He became fascinated with the factory as a child and intrigued by it as you never saw anyone go in or come out. Much like the Wonka factory!

Ian wanted to explore what Hendo’s means to Sheffielders, why it’s regarded with such fondness and also what the secret ingredient is too.

He took us behind the scenes at the Hendo's HQ, interviewing the family who have owned the factory and manufactured the special sauce since 1885. He attempted to solve the mystery of the secret ingredient….it still remains a closely guarded secret! The patriarch of the family used to add it in his office in a covert fashion. However since his death, the secret sauce baton has been passed on to his grandson who travels to the factory to add it to a batch or two! Amazing additional factoid - the production at the factory still consists of just three staff!

Ian enlisted local celebs and faces about Sheff including - Richard Hawley, Pete McKee, Heaven 17 and the legendary Bobby Knutt amongst others to share the Hendo's love and speculate upon the magic additive. Bobby Knutt even shared his lamb with Hendo's recipe, describing it as a ‘culinary orgasm’! (Will leave you with that one….some things you can’t un-hear!!). 

Hendo's has expanded over the years, despite no real marketing strategy or budget….word of mouth has spread far and wide! The family were asked to stock it at the prestigious Fortnum and Mason’s but declined as it cost too much in postage to send to that London. However, it can be located in the aisles of Morrison’s at Skeg Vegas!

The doc was funny, touching and a great insight into Sheffield’s special sauce……and we still don’t have a clue what the secret ingredient is! Do you?!

Nicola Treby
SHWI committee member

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

More fundraising at Sunfest

We're really pleased to say we raised £600 at Sunfest beer festival at the Rising Sun on Fulwood Road.

It was the second year that we've been invited by Abbeydale Brewery and had a stall selling cake and savoury goods for those hungry beer drinkers.

This year, the money will be split equally between Mental Health Action Group Sheffield, our charity of the year, and Cavendish Cancer Care, who Abbeydale are supporting this year.

A massive thanks to Laura Rangeley for organising and all our bakers and volunteers. Thanks once again to Abbeydale Brewery for inviting us back!

Monday, 5 June 2017

SHWI learn car maintenance with Kwik Fit

There’s nothing more confusing than trying to work out what your car is trying to tell you when its lights go all funny on the dashboard. 

I love driving, it gives me freedom, it means I can go to lots of lovely places at the weekends with my hubby and our dog and also to work in the week (boooo!) but what would I do if something went wrong with my car and I was on my own……that’s what you have breakdown cover for, right? Well not anymore, I have my own set of skills thanks to Kwik Fit and their Ladies in the Driving Seat night.

On a hot Thursday evening, when most people were chilling with a cold beer or G&T, a group of members from Seven Hills WI descended on Kwik Fit on Ecclesall Road to be greeted by Chris (Manager) and Liz (Customer Liaison) and Shaq, Mike and Cameron who had all agreed to stay behind after hours to pass on their engine and car-related skills. Did I mention that there were cream cakes and overalls for us all to wear? We were officially winning at life!

Following the completion of the obligatory paperwork and a few photos of us in our overalls before we got down and dirty, we were straight into some supervised engine action.

Changing a wheel has always seemed like a huge challenge, its thankfully not something I have ever had to do in an emergency (or at all!) but I freely admit I wouldn’t have a clue and would probably end up ringing my husband, Dad, breakdown service and as a last resort, look all mournful on the side of the road until someone came to my aid. 

Well no more, thanks to the patience of Shaq who allowed us to change a wheel on his own car. I now know what the jacking point is, why my locking wheel nut should be cherished, coveted and kept safe and the importance of the torque wrench – I am aware that I am speaking a foreign language, but it no longer holds me in fear. I can do it – a wheel is much heavier than you might think and the tiny jacks we will have in our car will be far less satisfying to pump than the pneumatic jack we used on Shaq’s car – no fair.

We then moved onto tyre pressures and tread wear, who knew that the relevant information can actually be found within your car and you do not have to rely on the power of Google! Why does no one tell you these important things? We deflated a tyre and inflated it to the correct PSI (get me with my technical lingo!). No longer will Alice turn her head away when pumping her tyres through fear of popping it - this is actually a lot more difficult to achieve than you might think.

Finally, we went under the bonnet, the home of all the action and where my own car maintenance skills currently started and finished with the topping up of the windscreen wash; well I take the screenwash and I raise you with oil, coolant and brake fluid – boom! I will no longer look under my bonnet thinking it’s all witchcraft and stare in wonderment and gratitude for the invention of the internal combustion engine. No, I now have the knowledge of what normal looks like and when to go to a garage (note to readers, you should visit a garage for anything that’s not screenwash or oil related)

Chris and his team were so patient and helpful with our questions and queries, most of which were using hypothetical situations which we may or may not encounter in the future...who are we kidding, they were all car related incidents we had been involved in and alternative facts we had picked up over time about the mystery of the car.

As it got towards 9:00pm we thought it best that we finished up and let Chris and his team get home for their tea; we had a quick quiz, a last cake and all left with a goodie bag and a sense of achievement from leaning something useful and at last destroy the mystique of car maintenance.

Vice President

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Ooh la la! Wine tasting with Le Bon Vin

Our SHWI May 2017 meeting saw Patrice from Le Bon Vin come and talk to us about WINE! And give generous tasters. And told us how attractive we are. And got distracted by a moustache on a cup. And had quite a strong accent and so was difficult to follow at times.

Needless to say, the meeting went swimmingly. The wines we tasted were as follows:
  • 8 Secco Prosecco (2016, £12). A fresh tasting bottle of fizz from Italy. Patrice gave us the lowdown on the history of Italian wine, and what a laborious process it is to make fizzy wines such as Prosecco! Patrice advised that we have to drink it quickly so you don’t lose any of ‘ze bubbles’. He described this wine as ‘like a good French man, you burst and you go’(!) It was light, fruity and flowery, and we agreed very tasty for the price.
  • Juno Chenin Blanc (2015, £9). A tropical tasting Chenin Blanc from South Africa, with bonus points for being Fairtrade. It was smooth and well rounded, and Patrice talked about the Goddess of Love, Juno. The wine was fairly strong for a white at 13% but still very drinkable.
  • Carlos Series Crianza Rioja (2013, £9). An oak-aged rich Rioja. By this point, Patrice complained that the microphone he was holding was too heavy. He advised us that with regard to reading official tasting notes you should ‘tell yourself it and you will find it’. And he recommended that if you don’t like the taste of this wine you need to drink more of it because the tannins will go away and the flavour will improve. The evening was getting silly!
  • Outback Jack Cabernet Merlot (2015, £8). A solid Cabernet Merlot from Australia. We heard about how the huge wine industry ‘down under’ started because of a need to serve wine with mass, and Patrice gave a convoluted explanation of brewing wine and developing cooling apparatus. This was a ‘stick your lips together’ kind of tipple with flavours of plum and oak. He just had one final question for us… ‘Would you prefer a good screw or a bad cork?’.

I’m not sure that we were the most attentive of audiences but we certainly enjoyed ourselves - huge thanks to Patrice and Le Bon Vin for keeping us entertained!

Charlotte Wright
Committee Member

Monday, 22 May 2017

Jam, Gin and Jerusalem: WI teams up with local companies to make charity jam for Sheffield Food Festival

South Yorkshire’s largest WI group have teamed up with local food and drink companies to create a boozy jam.

Seven Hills WI’s raspberry and gin jam features ingredients from Catherine’s Choice jam and Locksley Distilling Company, who produce Sheffield’s Robin of Locksley gin.

The limited edition jam will be sold at the WI’s cake stall in the Peace Gardens at Sheffield Food Festival on 27th and 28th May 2017.

The jam costs £3.50 and all the money raised will go to local charity, Mental Health Action Group Sheffield.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt, President of Seven Hills WI, said: “We are very grateful to Catherine’s Choice and Locksley Distilling Company for donating their time and their ingredients to help us make this quality jam. Jam is a massive part of WI history and I can’t wait for people to taste our boozy version!”

Victoria and Di with our jam
Shaun Bamford, Owner of Catherine’s Choice, said: “It was great to work with Seven Hills WI to make this special jam and hopefully raise lots of money for a great cause.”

John Cherry, from Locksley Distilling Company said: “A raspberry and gin jam sounds delicious so we were pleased to be able to help Seven Hills WI create this jam and raise money too.”

All the money raised will go to Mental Health Action Group Sheffield, a local charity who help people with mental health issues.  

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Getting historical with Meridith Towne

Last month, we had my ideal meeting: History. Clothes. Women. REAL historical bags.

On arrival, our speaker, Meridith Towne proceeded to unpack a history lover’s dream from her boxes. Edwardian dresses were placed onto dummies, fur trimmed boots worn by a real Edwardian woman were carefully set onto the table. Beautiful beaded bags and purses glimmered as if they were only made yesterday.

I knew it was going to be a fascinating talk from the start. Meridith brimmed with enthusiasm about her subject and her collection of original items was astounding. I love a good talk with real objects to see and touch – it’s what history is about.

At the beginning of the meeting we also had an extra treat. The Sheffield Country Market ladies (including the one and only Nora Tebbutt …. recognise the surname?...) had brought us a range of sweet and savoury treats to try and taste. I particularly enjoyed the breads and pates. However, after having a Street Food Chef quesadilla before the meeting, my stomach didn’t agree…..

Lovely food from Sheffield Country Market
The ladies then gave us a talk about how the markets had originally been linked to the WI alongside some information about what they do and why. It was a lovely overview and hopefully got some of our members to either go and buy from them on a Saturday morning or to join in and sell their own wares!

After the usual info swap and Laura’s usual comedy routine (seriously, this girl should go into stand up) we prepared for the talk we had all been waiting for.

Meridith Towne

Meridith didn’t disappoint. Gliding into the room in her full Edwardian shopping outfit, we all gasped. She introduced us to exactly what Edwardian middle class women would have experienced if they had had the extra cash to roam the new department stores of the day such as Harrods and Selfridges. From gloves to French underwear which you wouldn’t tell your mum about (oo-er!) the story of the Edwardian shopaholic was a fascinating one. As well as being able to look at the original pieces of fashion in Meridith’s collection, we found out some amazing facts about women during the period. The ones that particularly stuck with me included the fact that there had not been women’s toilets in shopping stores previously as women ‘didn’t do that’. Also the dark detail (I like a bit of horrible history!) that a women would buy a shroud to go in her wedding trousseau. Because this was frequently needed due to the high rate of death through childbirth. It was just something that you had to prepare for!

At the end of the evening, ladies were allowed to look at and handle the original objects, connecting them to the women of foregone times.

A truly fascinating and insightful experience from an unusual and enthusiastic speaker.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Hey Honey! Buzzin' over bees

For March's meeting, Beekeeper Bronwen White joined us to teach us all about the art and skill involved in keeping bees, an essential part of our ecosystem. 

We heard all about the different types of bee we may find in our gardens (including my personal favourite - the hairy-footed flower bee), the life cycle of a bee, and we were shown all of the components required to provide a hive for them to thrive. 

Toni and the bee!
Here are some fun facts we learnt about our humble bumbles! 
  • A Queen bee can lay up to 1500 eggs per day...them's some hardworking ovaries!
  • Bees communicate by waggle dance! The direction of the waggle lets the other bees know which way to go, with the speed of the waggle telling them how far they need to go to reach their pollen-y destination
  • Bees can't see red, but can see in UV - so you should notice that when petals on flowers are lined, the lines will always point to the pollen which help the bee find it's way.
Bronwen brought with her a bee hive and some honey samples

We also held a honey-themed bake off - sampling honey glazed chicken, an array of honey cakes, tiny honeyed doughnuts and more. Mary's baklava was judged by Bronwen to be the star bake of the day and she was rewarded with a jar of honey to take home.

Anyway, time for me to buzz off.

Bee Happy!

Laura Rangeley
Committee member

Friday, 10 March 2017

Girl Gang Sheffield and our new charity of the year

Our February meeting was a miserable, cold and wet night, several Committee members were ill, but it was the night we discovered our church has some sort of underfloor heating system. It was like winning the lottery, warm parquet is a actual thing. 

We opened our doors and were greeted by our ladies laden with cakes and full of chatter; I can only comment on Karin's incredible kladd kaka (like chocolate brownie) with orange and cayenne pepper - wow!! Our meeting for this month was made brighter by our friends from Girl Gang Sheffield who led our meeting on positivity and self celebration. 

Before we got down to positivity and feeling great, Grace ran through some SHWI business, passing on thanks from Light Sheffield for our fundraising efforts in 2016 and informing us of her successful negotiations in securing a stall for Sheffield Food Festival.

In February we traditionally vote for our charity of the year, this year we had 7 amazing nominations; Ashiana Sheffield, Golddigger Trust, Haven House, Memories from Isla, MHAGS Sheffield, Snowdrop Project and Whirlow Hall Farm Trust. Following a wholly democratic sticky dot led voting process (watch out Electoral Reform Commission) I was delighted to announce that our support for 2017 will be MHAGS Sheffield.  Watch out for our fundraising ideas over the coming months - one definite already in the diary is the Food Fest in May, so get your bake on!

After a swift break, Vanhessa, Ellie and Charly from Girl Gang Sheffield introduced their manifesto to our group and shared the reasons why they set up Girl Gang - their focus being to shine a light on women in Sheffield and support and promote the work they are doing.  

Girl Gang started by a core group of like minded women in Sheffield and has now expanded to Leeds and Manchester where their events centre around creativity, artistry, music and talent, and have a feminist undercurrent to encourage us all to value ourselves more.  The Girl Gang website states that a girl gang can be whatever you want it to be - encouraging skills sharing, self love and the power of female friendships - all of which I get from our fantastic SHWI girl gang.

Our activity for the evening was poster making focusing on making a positive statement to ourselves, taking back the negative perceptions and opinions we have about ourselves; the little voice in your head which can appear to be shouting you down and making you feel crappy.  What followed was an hour of positive reinforcement, shared experiences and laughter; and what resulted was a whole array of amazing posters, many adorned with a vast repertoire of swear words.

When I joined SHWI in November 2015 it was because I was missing nights like this. I was existing in a city I had called home for over 10 years with friends living 40 miles away becoming more and more remote, what I craved was the company of like-minded people, women supporting women, sharing experiences and offering advice.  We all lead such busy professional and social lives, living in a digital era where the restorative power of an actual conversation can often be forgotten.  Thank you Girl Gang for your support in delivering such an inspirational and uplifting evening!

Rachel White

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Don Valley Carol Service

We organised a special carol service last Saturday for the Don Valley Group of WI's in Sheffield in collaboration with St Andrew's UR church where we meet regularly.

A big thank you to our events team who organised the event and all the members who volunteered their time and baked for the event.

It was bitter sweet as we are leaving the Don Valley Group soon to form a new Sheffield group of WI's - the Sharman group. More details to come! 

Monday, 5 December 2016

WI pie features in second helping of Sheffield cookbook

South Yorkshire’s largest WI group feature in a new Sheffield cookbook with a special pie recipe from one of their members.

The recipe, written by Seven Hills WI (SHWI) member Di Coupe, is one of 80 local recipes in ‘The Sheffield Cookbook: Second Helpings’.

Di’s SHWI pie is a much-loved recipe and regularly baked for the WI’s cake stall at Sheffield Food Festival every year.

Di Coupe
Di said: “After I made the chicken, stuffing and sausage meat pie a couple of times, members of the public soon started asking for the recipe! It’s a true ‘bucket-list’ achievement to have my recipe published alongside such delicious food from restaurants on the Sheffield scene.”

Meze publishing, who created the book, have allowed Seven Hills WI discounted copies of the book to sell and raise money for their charity of the year.

Anna Tebble, Publishing Manager at Meze and Seven Hills WI member, said: “Compiling a book about my favourite thing - food from my favourite city, and as an added bonus getting to feature my favourite lady team, Seven Hills WI, was an absolute treat."

Member and Meze Publisher, Anna Tebble

The book is available direct from Seven Hills WI at £14.95. Contact to buy a copy

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Remember, remember the cake of November

What a splendid meeting November was! First of all a big congratulations to our new President, Grace, on her inaugural meeting in charge. I know you’ll all join me in three big cheers and we know its going to be a blinding year with you at the helm. All the new committee members did a brilliant job organizing the meeting and settling into their roles too, along with the seasons ladies running things smoothly as usual.

Next up a big thank you to our meeting guest, Meryl White, who knows everything there is to know about this history of afternoon tea. We were delighted with all kinds of stories and anecdotes about tea and cake from the Boston tea party to the correct way to put milk in your tea. 

Meryl White and Grace

It was also interesting to hear that Victorian ladies would eat cake with gloves on, which caused much rumbling of these questions…..wouldn’t you get crumbs on your gloves? and, wouldn’t you get fluff on your cake? 

In fact, she is so obsessed with tea and cake that she counted that we’d mentioned cake 37 times before she even stood up for her talk! 

Her stunning array of cakes was enjoyed by everyone too along the now infamous Di’s SHWI Pie which we’re delighted to announce is featured in the Sheffield Cook Book (great idea for a Christmas present hint hint!). 

Di, Anna, Bex and Ruth were very excited about the new Sheffield cookbook
Di's SHWI pie
Everyone had their last chance to join up for the next year so fingers crossed its going to be a great year and we’re looking forward to meeting the fresh faces ready and waiting to join with their fingers over the eventbrite buttons when it opens up soon…..

Jodie Winters
Fundraising and Campaigns Officer

Monday, 21 November 2016

Beer-brewing WI raise money for local charity

South Yorkshire’s largest WI group have teamed up with Abbeydale Brewery to raise over £1000 for a local charity, Light Sheffield. 

Grace (right) receives a cheque from Sue Morton (left)
Seven Hills WI were invited by the Sheffield brewery to create their own beer called Not Just Jam, a lemon and earl grey tea flavoured pale ale.

The beer was the signature ale at Abbeydale’s SunFest beer festival at the Rising Sun pub in Fulwood this July and was also sold in pubs across Sheffield and the UK.

Abbeydale have donated 10p from every pint to Seven Hills WI’s charity of the year. Combined with donations from the festival, the total raised was £1277.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt, President of Seven Hills WI, received a cheque from Director of Abbeydale Brewery, Sue Morton, at last Thursday’s meeting (Thursday 17 November 2016). 

Grace said: “We had so much fun brewing the beer and zesting 100 lemons by hand for the special recipe. I’m so pleased we could raise so much money for Light Sheffield and we’re very grateful to Abbeydale Brewery for the opportunity and their generosity.”

Sue Morton, Director of Abbeydale Brewery, said: “We’re delighted the beer was a success - it was definitely one of my favourite ales we’ve brewed this year. It’s fantastic we could help raise so much money for a worthwhile cause.”

All the money raised will go to Light Sheffield, a local charity run providing support across Sheffield to families affected by perinatal mental health illnesses, including post natal depression and anxiety. Members of Seven Hills WI voted to support Light Sheffield as their charity for 2016.

To read more about our beer, read Kirsty's blog

Monday, 7 November 2016

All Hallows' Eve and birthday cake

October saw the 7th birthday of the birth of our lovely SHWI, but also bought with it some spooky goings on…

The meeting kicked off with a final address from our long-serving Vice President, Jen Marsden-Lambert who is one of the founders of SHWI and has decided to step down and take a break from committee responsibilities. Jen received much love and a bottle of Japanese whiskey to enjoy in her new relaxed role as SHWI member!

To celebrate another year of this wonderful girl gang, our member Nicky Campbell had baked the most incredible SHWI fist cake, which Jen sliced ceremoniously before it was demolished by ravenous members. White chocolate buttercream icing? Yes please! 

Nicky with her delicious cake

Founding member Jen cuts our birthday cake
It being the month of October and All Hallows Eve being one of the most fun times of year (following closely behind Christmas and Great British Bake Off months) members had come dressed in their best spooky head wear for a creepy competition. There were sparkly witches, Brexit themed horror crowns, crocheted pumpkin patches, skeleton ladies and a pumpkin tea cosy worn as a hat….ARRRRRGH!

Finally, our terrifying troop of ladies were seated to enjoy our speaker for the night – Jo Johnson-Smith who entertained us with tales of Sheffield past. We cringed at the stories of cannibalistic paupers reminiscent of Sweeney Todd and shuddered at the tale of the black dog, who haunts people on the urban streets at night. The legend of the naughty thug, who runs through town, knocking people into the road sent a shiver down the collective spine. One thing we learnt? Sheffield’s ghoulish history is more petrifying than we imagined……

Jen awards Mary with her spooky prize
And so at the end of the meeting, Jo kindly judged the haunted headwear of our members and ruled that Mary Beckinsale’s disembodied hand veil was the ultimate winner of our Halloween hat-off.

Happy birthday SHWI! Here’s to many more! 

Grace Escott-Tebbutt

Thursday, 22 September 2016

SHWI enjoy the Good Life

What can be more enjoyable than sleeping under the stars, chatting with friends over crochet, listening to chilled music and a homemade scotch egg? Nothing! That's the Good Life, my friends.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Good Life Experience with WI friends from across the country last weekend.

We weren't there just to have a good time (although we definitely did!). We were invited there by Cerys Matthews herself, festival organiser extraordinaire. For the last 3 years, the WI have had a presence at the festival. Last year, our amazing Sarah Willoughby helped to organise a craft tent. This year, we were invited back but we were a bit more chilled, a bit more low-fi.

The festival itself is a relaxed affair of curated music, crafts, books, poetry and food. It takes places on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire, North Wales which is absolutely stunning. The site has a farm shop which stayed open during the festival and provided us with tasty food across the weekend (hence the scotch eggs!).

We decided to do some pop-up crochet and knitting sessions, showing people how to make twiddle muffs. Now before you call the Daily Mail, Twiddle Muffs are the colloquial name for sensory mitts. Used by dementia sufferers, they can help patients to stop pulling out IV drips. They provide sensory stimulus as they are made with lots of different textures. 

Over the weekend, we showed festival-goers how to get started making them via crochet or knitting. Less confident people could sew on beads or ribbons and even make pom-poms.

Our WI contingent comprised us of the ultimate legends (yes, I hate that word as much as you but in this case, it is true) that are Sarah Willoughby and Joanne Croxford (Cambridge). These two organised the whole thing and names went into the hat for the other places - I was lucky enough to get one as well as Anna P, Grace T and Cat from Seven Hills WI. Other WI's were Emma from Blackmoor and White Hill WI (Hampshire) and Claire from Mansfield. 

We planned to do a few sessions every day but ended up sitting on a lovely mound near the main stage all day on Saturday. It was great to interact with people about the twiddlemuffs and dementia, as well as talk to people about the WI. I'm sure we recruited a few members that day as well as taught people how to crochet!

In the evenings, we had to wrap up warm (gosh it was cold!) to enjoy Jo's veggie stew and the evenings entertainment. Unfortunately I was under the weather but I heard tales of Balkan brass bands, midnight campfires and hoola-hooping ladies.

A massive thanks to Sarah and Jo for organising the weekend and a big thanks to Hobbycraft for supplying us with lots of yarn and needles to help make twiddle muffs and a HUGE thanks to the Good Life gang for inviting us.

Our finished twiddlemuffs will be heading to Peterborough's NHS trust.


Team SHWI pull papercutting out of the bag

My last meeting as WI President summed up the best things about being in Seven Hills WI - teamwork and friendship.

Sometimes, planning a smoking hot programme of activities and speakers a year in advance comes a cropper and we have events that fall through. A week before our meeting, our plans came undone.

But instead of taking the easy option and filling in with an easy back-up meeting, my crack team of dedicated commitee members decided that a papercut workshop was something we could pull off ourselves.

Cue desperate googling off templates, trips to a high street stationer and certain individuals ordering hundreds of scalpels online. 

When we arrived at St Andrews before the meeting, it was fantastic to see so many members arrive early to help move tables and chairs. We got ready in super quick time!

Members mingled and chatted about the month's news and helped themselves to Vicky's awesome vegan courgette cake.

It was fantastic to be visited by WI friends from around the country - Joanne Croxford from Cambridge was in Sheffield prior to our trip to the Good Life Experience, as well as ladies who are setting us a new group, Wellbeck WI.

The meeting soon began and we ran through WI business. My amazing committee members presented me with a surprise bunch of flowers and asked me to give a speech! I was not prepared at all. In fact, I'm still President until next meeting but I won't be able to make the October or November's meeting. Apologies for mumbling a strange thank you! 

After a quick break, it was time to start papercutting. Laura and Grace decided to put the skills they have learned at Denman College to good use and lead the workshop. They showed members how to use templates to practice their designs or simply come up with their own patterns. I was amazed to see some of the fab designs people came up with in such a short amount of time. 

Soon enough, it was time to get packed away too. Another big thanks to everyone who helped clear away.

Being President has been fantastic. I have got to be involved in so many things I would not have had the chance to - a judge on the Great British Menu, a guest on BBC Radio Sheffield, and help fundraise thousands of pounds.

I'm really excited to take a break as President, continue to support the group and campaign for change in the organisation that we are a part of and the society we live in. 

Kirsty Bowen
President 2014 - 2016

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tea and Tents 2016: Wendy's tale

I am new to SHWI having only joined in December and had been looking for a way to get stuck in and get to know other ladies in our group. Brilliantly I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket for Tea and Tents 2016 (they sold out in ten minutes!) Even more brilliant was the number of ladies from SHWI who also got tickets.

Tea and Tents is the most organised chaos I have ever witnessed. On arrival I was assigned my volunteer slot to be a ‘Pixie’ on Sunday evening, every single participant had a volunteer slot, to help their fellow campers be it manning a booking stall for events to litter picking and being the person everyone turned to for help with tents (Sarah W that would be you).

The SHWI camp was set up with military precision, the urn was on the cakes were out and we were all ready for a great weekend. Our first evening was spent around the campfire whilst lots of ladies finished off crocheting their soil by head torch for the yarn bomb. (This was an excellent allotment).

There were so many activities to get involved in; some of our group took part in the more energetic activities of Axe Throwing and Shooting, whilst others participated in crafting activities or led activities themselves. Laura hosted the very popular beer swap on the village green, where as soon as she began more and more ladies turned up with their brews in hand ready to share. Sarah hosted our evening with the stars, we found planets and learned something new about the night sky, and she even arranged a shooting star to finish the session off. There were talks on all sorts of subjects by some inspirational women and lots of opportunities to network and get ideas.

Aside from all the marvellous activities my favourite part of the weekend were the evenings sitting around the campfire talking and listening to each other’s stories and life events, and getting to know everyone. We all dressed up as women of steel one evening and welcomed ladies from other WI groups to join us for a natter around the fire, and s’mores and singing.

What can I say? I thoroughly recommend as a new member of SHWI to get involved in activities outside our monthly meetings as it gives you a better opportunity to connect with people.

Unfortunately Tea and Tents is taking a break next year, maybe we do a mini Tea and Tents just for SHWI ladies? My lasting impression of my weekend away is that I came home with a load of new friends and a happy feeling of sisterhood and a resolution to be brave and try more new things and get to know new people.