Thursday, 18 December 2014

What's coming up in 2015

2014 has been an exciting year for us as we turned five, raised a record amount of money at our Sheffield Food Festival stall and enjoyed some brilliant meetings. Our committee have been working hard finalising the programme for 2015 with an awesome year planned for the WI's centenary year.

All the events, activities and speakers are chosen from member's own suggestions - if you have any ideas for 2016 then let us know at a meeting or email us.

You can pick up a printed copy of our programme at January's meeting. 

Thu 15th January
Paul Cocker & Christmas Present Swap
Paul Cocker of Meze Publishing will be telling us how he brought together a career in local media with his love of food, by turning his hand to publishing cookbooks including the Sheffield Cook Book.

Thu 19th February
Claire Kemp Cakes
A Sheffield cake expert, Claire Kemp, will be polishing up our cake decorating skills and sharing her baking secrets. We will also vote for our charity of the year at this meeting.

Thu 19th March
Bobbins & Buttons: Jewellery Making
Lauren from Bobbins & Buttons will help us get crafty by making beaded tassel bracelets. Remember your scissors and needles! There will be an additional material charge of £2 per person. 

Thu 16th April

Sam Cleasby
Sam is a blogger (, writer and public speaker. She will be talking about body image, self esteem and how she lives with a chronic illness. An uplifting and inspirational talk on how you can feel more confident and happy in your own skin. 

Thu 21st May
Give us an S - H - W - I! Jessica Stanley from Constance Grant Dance Centre will be putting us through our paces as we learn how to cheer.

Thu 18th June
Gary Cox: Security expert
Gary Cox has years of experience working for the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Justice. He’ll be speaking to us about his role in advising front-line personnel in challenging and complex areas such as use of force, control and restraint, intelligence analysis, surveillance, major search planning and hostage intervention.

There’s no meeting in July - but keep your eyes peeled for details of our annual picnic!

Thu 20th August
Jordon Cox
We’re back in August with Jordon Cox - The Coupon Kid. A regular contributor to the media, including the BBC, Daily Mail and ITV, he’ll share his money saving secrets, talk about the inspiring world of couponing and how his money-saving story began.

Thu 18th September
Cheese tasting and talk
One for the foodies! We’re always keen to support local artisan food producers and this month sees the team from the Hartington Creamery and Cheese Factory pay us a visit. As well as sampling some of their delicious produce, we'll find out how they've single-handedly revived the Derbyshire cheese industry.

Thu 15th October
6th Birthday party: Stand-up comedy with Dotty Winters
We're in for a treat at our 6th birthday party! Dotty Winters is an award-winning comedian with a secret life as a grown up business person. Fan of fancy words and purveyor of wrongness, Dotty has a talent for finding hilarity in otherwise sombre situations.

Thu 19th November
Felt Craft Workshop
Shelley Hughes will be showing us the basic skills of felt-making to create a beautiful little bird - perfect as a gift or as a little Christmas decoration. All materials will be provided and absolutely no experience is necessary - it's easier than you think!

Thu 17th December
Cocktail making
We'll be joined by Ed from the Broadfield Ale House, whose take on cocktail making is a perfect blend of art and science. Whether you like your cocktails shaken, stirred or merely muddled, Ed will share plenty of tips while you sup a tipple. Not forgetting our annual Christmas quiz and Secret Santa swap - bring a wrapped up to the value of £5.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Another New Wave weekend at Denman College

Last weekend, 10 SHWI members went to the 'New Wave weekend' at the WI’s own Denman College.  Some of us had been before, a couple of years ago, but for others, it was our first time to Denman, and we didn’t quite know what to expect.  What we found was a glorious Grade II listed Georgian house, filled with around 70 women from other WIs, and the most accommodating and friendly staff (except for one slightly disrespectful barman, but he was more than made up for by the lovely Matt!).

Joanne, Lauren and Lucy outside Denman

Once we’d settled into our comfortable rooms, Friday evening started with a welcome talk and cocktails.  The slight tardiness of the cocktails (don’t keep a roomful of thirsty women waiting for free drinks!) was thankfully no indication of the organisation of the rest of the weekend, as everything ran like clockwork.  Dinner followed, and although not Yorkshire portions, was delicious.  After a cookery demonstration by Peter Lien, Head of the WI Cookery School, the evening drinking could begin in earnest…

The SHWI gang enjoy the food and wine
After a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning, we separated to go to our workshops.  We each got to choose three activities from a range including making textile decorations, biscuiteering, Bollywood dancing, meringues and vintage corsages.  To ensure our energy levels didn’t drop during the day, there were plenty of coffee breaks with homemade cakes and shortbread, a lovely salad bar or hot meal for lunch, and another three course dinner.

I found all the workshop tutors to be excellent, although they each had their own teaching style.  I enjoyed all of the sessions I attended, even if biscuit icing turned out to not be one of my greatest skills! (They still tasted good, though).

Grace's iced biscuits
I also really enjoyed the tour of the house – it gave some fascinating information about the history of the building, and sneaky peaks into some of the other bedrooms!  Most of the rooms on the first floor were quite grand, with original features and large windows.  My room was on the second floor, in the old servants’ quarters, and featured the call bell for the previous owner inside the wardrobe.  Luckily it didn’t ring whilst I was in residence!

Laura made this at the papercutting workshop
Saturday evening split our group between the two entertainments laid on.  Some partook in the lively salsa/zumba dancing, whilst others entered the quiz.  After the organised entertainment was over, it was back to the bar for some more drinking!  SHWI managed to be last up on both nights, and I heard stories of a game of hide and seek in the early hours.

Sunday morning gave us time for one more workshop, then, after lunch, with our waistlines and horizons broadened, and new friendships forged, it was time to say farewell. 

I feel like I am running out of superlatives, but I really did thoroughly enjoy the weekend, much more than I was expecting to.  My main question now is 'can we go again next year?'

Mary Beckingsale
SHWI Member

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Annual Meeting, new President and plenty of Henderson's Relish

I wanted to start this month's blog with saying one final thank you and farewell to our founding President and Secretary - Lindsay Garfitt and Kim Whelan. Without them, I probably would't be a member of a WI today and I wouldn't have made the friendships I have made. The success of Seven Hills WI is a testament to the hard work they have put into the group since 2009. So thank you so much.

From left to right: Kirsty, Lindsay, Kim and Laura

Since we waved goodbye to Lindsay and Kim last month, we've had the excitement of our SHWI getaway, our successful Christmas market plus Laura, Vicky and I appeared on Sheffield Live TV. It's been a jam-packed start to my term as President!

November soon came round and it was time for our meeting. Part of being in the committee is to organise our meetings and Lindsay and Kim have always been a huge part of making them run smoothly. That means getting to Electric Works before our members, making sure the tables and chairs are all out and ready, teas and coffees are prepared and any activities set up. It was somewhat daunting to realise that this was down to Laura and I now. I got to Electric Works ridiculously early and was soon met by Laura Bainbridge, our new Secretary. We looked at each other and laughed - our faces both said 'so what are we supposed to do now?'.

Of course we knew. Laura has been a member of Seven Hills WI from the very start. She lives and breathes WI - baking for our food festival, attending federations events and always first to help with our campaigns and activities. Well-respected by other local WI's, Laura will make a fab secretary - she has the pencil skirt and sexy specs down.

Sam Foster, our new meeting attendance secretary, Treasurer Vicky P-M and Vice Treasurer Leanne Sunter had a busy night. It was the last chance for our current members to have their membership guaranteed for 2015 so we had a good turn out of familiar faces wanting to get their place for next year.

It was also our annual meeting - a chance for us to review the highlights of the last year. Laura had spent hours putting together a brilliant presentation running through everything SHWI had done since October last year - that's a lot of stuff! It included our food festival fundraising, the start of SHWI Mad Skillz, ceilidh dancing and our Christmas party. Vicky P-M also gave us a run though of finances where everything is ship shape and shiny. Then we had our yearly rousing rendition of Jerusalem (one member did ask me if we would be singing every meeting from now on but unfortunately I don't think we would be able to fit it in every week!).

Laura's presentation for our annual meeting

Our guest speaker was Jim Connolly, illustrator and artist. Jim grew up in Sheffield but has moved to Manchester now and works freelance at home. He showed us some of his illustrations, prints and commissions which was great to see. I particularly enjoyed seeing the designs he has done for Kelham Island brewery's beer pump clips.

Jim Connolly and one of his most iconic pieces

As Jim has been inspired by Sheffield's favourite condiment, Henderson's Relish in his artwork, we asked him to be a judge for our Hendo's bake-off. Aided by condiment expert, Anna P, Jim got to taste some fantastic bakes including two sets of muffins - one with chedder and the other wensleydale as well as spicy sausage rolls which went down a treat. It was a close competition and Karin Safwenberg was runner-up with her incredible pork pie with cheese centre and hendo's jelly. But the winner once again was Sam Foster with her homemade blinis topped with mozarella, tomato, basil and Henderson's Relish caviar. That's right - CAVIAR. I think we might have to ban her from the next competition, she is just too good. A big thanks to Paul Cocker for donating the prize - a copy of the new Henderson's Relish cook book.

It was soon time to end the meeting and our members did a fab job of clearing away tea cups, tables and chairs. We were out of the door in record time so thanks very much ladies!

Hope to see lots of you at our Christmas Party on the 4th December at Haggler's Corner. If not, see you next month for Secret Santa, Christmas food and our annual quiz!

Kirsty Bowen

Christmas market raises £368 for the Young Women's Housing Project

We're proud to announce that our Christmas market on Saturday 15th November raised an awesome £368.

The market featured stalls from local WI members and local businesses such as Crafty Jackdaw and Abbeydale Road beer shop, Hop Hideout. Cakes and refreshments baked by Seven Hills WI members raised over £200.

All money raised will go to our charity of the year, the Young Women’s Housing Project. The project helps young women aged 16 to 25 who have been affected by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual/domestic violence.

Vice President Jennifer Marsden said: ‘I'm so pleased we could raise £368 for Young Women's Housing Project. They make a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable women in South Yorkshire. A big thank you to everyone who supported the event and our super talented members for baking cakes.'

Some of our cakes baked by members

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Seven Hills WI on Sheffield Live!

On Tuesday 11th November, Kirsty, Laura and Vicky were invited to local TV station Sheffield Live! to talk about Seven Hills WI, the groups recent 5th birthday celebrations and to dispel some myths about the women's institute. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

SHWI Getaway: The Sequel

I’m writing this post from the loneliness of my sofa. It feels weird, no, in fact WRONG not to be surrounded by a bevvy of SHWI beauties. Once again, I’ve left my heart in Keighley! 

Currer Laithe Farm
I’ve just arrived home from SHWI Getaway: the sequel. The thing is about sequels is that they rarely live up to the original (except for Grease 2, of course which is AWESOME and I shall not have a word said against it!) So, after last year’s escapades, which can be revisited here, how was a return visit to Currer Laithe going to pan out? Was it going to cut the mustard (or, homemade chutney?) Was it going to be an unfortunate cringe-fest of epic proportions a la Sex and the City 2? Or was it going to be a legendary, action-packed thriller in the mould of Terminator 2 (only HOPEFULLY without the molten metal, shape-shifting cyborgs)? 

Well, I’m here to tell the tale (just) and while there were certainly a few incidents that would make even Samantha Jones blush, I’m chuffed to announce that SHWI Getaway 2 was a resounding success! As last year, the convoy of SHWI-ers arrived at Currer Laithe farm just outside of Keighley on Friday evening anticipating the Pot Luck Buffet that awaited them, managing en masse to avoid the hideous fate of pushing cars up Cobbled Hill of Doom (I think I need to trademark that name). The weather was kind to us but the roaring fire, courtesy of firestarters-extraordinaire Julie and Cat, was a welcome sight, as we all settled into our rooms and pondered the sensible evening of quiet reflection and polite conversation that was surely to follow (!!!) The buffet was IMMENSE as ever, and I think I speak for all when I give a special shout out to Di’s terrine, Corinne’s Aero traybake and Carolyne’s breads for providing ultimate culinary fitness. Ain’t no buffet like a SHWI-made buffet. Word.
The first night was all about getting to know each other and the ice-breaker games were nothing if not slightly revelatory. I think it’s fair to say that we all went to bed feeling that we had made new friends, and even those who were old friends definitely became more, er, intimate, as there were a few stories that made us QUAIL (sorry, readers, Getaway in-joke alert). But, onto Saturday. 

We headed into Saltaire to visit its Salts Mill complex and wander about the town. It was a very relaxed day and people wandered in groups finding activities to suit their own tastes. Some people visited the David Hockney exhibition, some trawled the vintage shops, some went to partake in milkshake heaven, some went in search of beer kegs and some bankrupted themselves in the frankly marvellous book shop. We all also enjoyed a fantabulous packed lunch constructed from Friday night’s leftovers by Anna T and Carolyne. Us SHWI-ers love many things (one in particular, as the Getaway go-ers know), but we do hate waste, so thank you again ladies for this. This was much-appreciated after a hard morning’s browsing and lined our stomachs nicely before heading to Fanny’s Ale House. There we met several lovely ladies from Saltaire WI and spent a couple of hours spreading the WI love over an ale or two. We do love a bit of bonding.

SHWI meets Saltaire WI
All too soon it was back to the house to prepare for our fancy dress pizza party. This year’s theme was ‘female characters from film, TV or literature’ and only myself and Jen could manage with a category this wide to come as the same person! However, we were both happy as it goes to show that great minds dress alike! So, who did we have this year? We had literary lovelies (Hermione Granger and The Owl and the Pussycat), animated awesomeness (Tank Girl, Kiki, Marge Simpson, Leela, Velma), TV titans (Joan Holloway, Wednesday Addams and Leslie Knope) and filmic femmes fatales (Mrs Mia Wallace, Dorothy, Frenchie, Sarah Tobias, Viane Rocher and of course Lydia Deetz x2, which I think proves that Beetlejuice is one of the best films EVER and should be watched IMMEDIATELY by all SHWI-ers). 

Fancy dress night
As with last year, I’m afraid I can’t divulge any more about the evening’s shenanigans, but I will say that a few important lessons were learned: that Jen makes a mean Prosecco punch, that we can’t eat as much pizza as we previously thought , that I now know Brook and Grace rather better than I did before, and that Carly is one HARD taskmaster…
Sunday was a day of recuperation, with some folks blazing a trail round the farm and its neighbouring footpaths, others staying behind to prep for the Sunday lunch of epicness that was to follow, and others (i.e. me) put on tea-making and dancing duties (really) so as not to cause havoc anywhere near the kitchen. We all convened to sample the feast of wonder at 2pm, as some people sadly had to leave on the Sunday night. Surely it should be written into every SHWI-er’s employment contract from now on that time off for the Getaway is a non-negotiable basic human right? Not sure how the catering team managed it, but I think it’s fair to say that this year’s effort surpassed last year’s. Grace’s Yorkshires were a triumph, Julie showed mad skillz (chest thump) in pimping the packet stuffing, the roast squash was simply ambrosial and I’m just going to have to observe a reverential silence of wonder as I recall Di’s leeks… sigh.

Awesome Sunday lunch
Dinner was followed by a chilled out evening of crochet, reading and chat, lubricated by leftover booze, tea and homemade bread and butter, jam and Nutella pudding (oh, yes, we went there). Or at least this would have been the case had we not switched on Absolute Radio Gold and got a bit overexcited by Ace of Base and Shed Seven, and had we not then gotten out the Taboo (the board game, not the spirit, although to be fair that wouldn’t have gone amiss). A hard-fought battle left Team A overall victors (boooooooo), but special mention must be given to Zoe’s talent in both guessing (Di: ‘It could be a man or a women and is present during…’ Zoe (interrupting):‘midwife?’ Di: ‘YES!’ Everyone else: sound of jaws hitting floor) and describing (‘hard egg on a cake’. Answer: meringue and yes, Bainbridge guessed it correctly from that clue!)

Anna learns to crochet from Sarah
And again, Monday arrived like a slap in the face. But unlike last year, I am not in a deep chasm of depression. This is because when Kirsty and Grace went to hand in the keys, the ladies who own the farm asked if they wanted to pencil in dates for next year! No brainer! SHWI Getaway the Third WILL occur! Roll on 2015, only 362 days to wait! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Kirsty and Grace from us all for all of your hard work organising the weekend, we are forever indebted to you both. But, seeing as you are so good at organising these things, when are you going to start organising a commune for us all to live on?!

Anna Pilson
SHWI Committee Member

Thursday, 30 October 2014

SHWI turns five and waves goodbye to Lindsay and Kim

October’s always a special month for Seven Hills WI. It’s a time for partying as we mark the anniversary of our official forming meeting and this year it was a little sad too as Kim and I addressed the group as President and Secretary for the very last time.

Our October meeting saw us celebrate our fifth birthday (five! Time flies!) with a birthday social, pot luck supper and cake competition. We had an abundance of food from crisps to pasta salad, mackerel pate to sausage rolls, and everything in between! And then there were the cakes. Special mentions go to Anna P’s Kinder egg cake with photos of me, Jen and Kim, and Vicky’s M&M and Maltesers dairy-free cake. After a gruelling taste test (it’s a hard life!) we chose Sam’s sponge piñata cake with a hidden filling of M&Ms as the winner. Well done Sam and thanks to everyone who entered the competition or brought food for the buffet, you are all brilliant! 

Sam's piñata cake
In true kid’s party style we played a round of pass the parcel although we had to draw the line at musical chairs; we’re still scarred from the musical chair incident of 2010…
It was a lovely night and great chance for members to have a chat in a more informal setting as we marked reaching the grand old age of five. It makes me so happy to see how far SHWI has come in the past five years and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next five hold. 

Members with the winning birthday cake

October was also a time for goodbyes and hellos as six members of the current committee stepped down, one new member joined the committee and roles were swapped around. As you will no doubt already know, after founding the group with Jen back in 2009 and being officers for the past five years, Kim and I decided to step down from our positions of President (me) and Secretary (her) as from November’s committee meeting. Kim and I will continue to be SHWI members and are looking forward to being able to fully enjoy meetings without worrying about organising them! Other committee members to step down this year are Ruth, Katie, Chelle, and Louise – thank you for all your hard work ladies – while we welcome Sam as a new committee member. 

We are very pleased to say that current committee members Kirsty and Laura will be taking over as President and Secretary so you’ll be hearing more from them soon. Good luck K-Bo and Bainbridge!

Lindsay (centre) with Kirsty (left) and Laura (right)

Kim and I were overwhelmed with the thank you cards and gifts our lovely members bought for us and would like to say another big thank you for everyone’s kind words. So many people told me at the meeting that through founding the group we had changed their lives for the better and that’s something I will continue to be proud of for a very long time.

I look forward to seeing you all at meetings and thank you to each and every member, past and present, for making SHWI such an amazing group to lead.

With love,

Lindsay x
President of Seven Hills WI

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Seven Hills WI Christmas Market

On Saturday 15th November, we will be hosting a fabulous Christmas Market with a chance to buy handmade crafts, homemade food and gift ideas galore from both WI members and local traders.

The Market will run from 11am and 2pm and is being held at Electric Works, Sheffield.

Interested in taking a stall?

Please be aware that completing an application form does not mean you will automatically be given a stall. We will prioritise WI members and local people that make or design their stock themselves, or that sell unique products and vintage items. We will also try to ensure that we have a variety of different types of stall.

Able to help out on the day?

We are looking for willing WI members to volunteer to bake, help set up, look after stall holders and serve refreshments. If you can help, please let us know by emailing

The front entrance to Electric Works can be found on Sheaf Street, conveniently located in front of Sheffield Interchange and on the opposite side of the road to Sheffield Railway Station.

Can you display a poster? If you have somewhere you can share our poster, such as your workplace noticeboard or in a window, we’d be really grateful.

Lastly, we’d be delighted if you could share this post on social media using the icons below. Thank you!

Monday, 13 October 2014

SHWI Mad Skillz: Pretty Girls Make Shelves

SHWI Mad Skillz is one of our spin-off groups organised by Di and Anna T. They organise bespoke sessions where SHWI members can learn a new skill in a smaller-sized group. Last week, ten members went along to Sheffield City College for a night of furniture making. Committee member Kirsty tells us all about it....

The last time I was let loose with a band saw was my year 9 design and technology class and to be honest, I spent most of the lesson in the toilet swapping notes with my mate who was doing IT next door. Making furniture was just not a priority at 15. But now, I'm 27 with my own home and I need to know the right way around a power drill. So I was really up for a night of furniture making. 

The Women's Workshop is nearly 25!
Anna and Di had organised Sheffield City College teacher Anna Childs to give us a one-of taster session of the course that she runs in the Women's Workshop there. Due to numbers, the courses in the workshop are now open to men too. Liz Kettle from WEST (Women in Engineering Science and Technology), a voluntary organisation that encourage women and girls to take up careers in non-traditional roles in Science, Engineering, Technology and the Built Environment, was keen to show us the facilities.

Liz and Anna met us on a rainy Wednesday night and supplied us with plenty of tea, coffee and tunnocks biscuits (just what some of us needed after the horrific traffic). They introduced the course, how WEST can help women with bursaries and outreach work and then it was down to what we were making - shelves. 

Anna explains what we're going to do
Anna took it step by step - explaining how we would go about starting the project then letting us do it ourselves. It was scary to be let loose on the big machines like the drill and sanders but Liz and Anna were very encouraging (and nobody lost a finger, so yay!). Using her example, we measured, sawed, drilled, screwed and sanded our wood into something that looked a lot like a set of small shelves!

I must say that there was some more talented members in the group than me - Chloe and Carolyne took so much care in sanding and smoothing their shelves that they were left with something very professional looking. Mine on the other hand was a bit rough and ready but acceptable enough to go on my bathroom wall. 

Anna and Liz were so generous in their time and resources and we were so grateful to have the opportunity to play with all their tools and create something really worthwhile. 

Our finished shelves!
If you're interested in one of the furniture making courses, have a look at the page on the Sheffield City College website

Kirsty Bowen
SHWI Committee member

Sunday, 5 October 2014

September meeting - Badge and mirror making

Our September meeting saw us getting nifty with glue and scissors, with Crafty Jackdaw helping us to design badges and mirrors.

As members and guests gathered in the club area at Electric Works, Crafty Jackdaw were already busy setting up the conference room into three long tables with a finishing station at one end.

Kim, Lindsay and Vicky started the meeting by going through WI business, including news of the upcoming Don Valley Rally, Autumn Council and our fabulous limited edition Christmas cards (which we’re selling for £5 a pack in aid of our charity of the year, Young Women’s Housing Project).

During the break, while we were all quaffing tea and cake, Crafty Jackdaw put out all the bits and pieces we needed to make our badges and mirrors. Following a brief explanation, members set about using the templates to create their designs out of everything from comics and children’s story books to sheet music and vintage fabric. 

The ladies from Crafty Jackdaw press our badges
Members could make various different items, which saw even the creatively-challenged (that’d be me) engrossed cutting and sticking. Crafty Jackdaw were kept busy all meeting, as members queued to have their inspired designs made into badges or mirrors, so that everyone got the chance to take home a unique keepsake they’d made themselves.

I found it quite therapeutic and enjoyed doing something that meant we could chat while we had a go at doing something new!

Some of Laura's badges
Next month we will be celebrating our 5th birthday with party games and a pot luck supper. Remember, to bring a dish a long to share and if you fancy getting your bake on you can also enter our birthday cake competition!

See you soon,

Vice President

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

August meeting - Blood donation and why it's important

After a month off, it was FINALLY time to head back to Electric Works for some Seven Hills action. After catching up with familiar faces and meeting a few new ones, the ladies settled into the meeting room for an informative evening of talk. 

First up - business! President Garfitt announced her decision to step down as captain of the great ship SHWI in 2015, a post she has kept since she conceived the group back in 2009. There'll be lots of changes afoot next year, as the committee loses some major players (including another founder member, Kim Whelan, our current Secretary). I don't think it's possible to thank these ladies enough for all that they've done. I think I speak for all SHWI members when I say we are SO grateful that they set this wonderful group up. But before I start blubbing, I know that the ladies that take on their roles will also do a fantastic job and so while it's the end of an era, the future is looking bright for SHWI.

Our first guest speakers were Katie and Jo from our charity for 2014, Young Women's Housing Project. It's great to have representatives from the charities come speak to the group – not only do we find out where the money goes, but it's nice to know how much the funds we raise are appreciated. The YWHP ladies seemed genuinely surprised and delighted that we had chosen them, courtesy of a nomination by SHWI member, Kat. The ladies explained the money we raised at the Sheffield Food Festival would be used to take some of their young women on a day trip with their children, an opportunity some of them would never have had before.

Lindsay and Kim handover the cheque to Katie and Jo from YWHP
Our main speaker was Holly Mason from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service – rather fitting for the WI, as our national resolution this year is to encourage people to talk about organ donation. Holly gave us a talk on blood – why we should consider giving it, what we can donate (it's not just blood! Platelets and bone marrow can also be donated) and where to do it. With only 4% of the population giving blood regularly, it really is something worth considering – not only does it help save the lives of people who have been in tragic accidents, but premature babies, people with sickle cell disease, cancer patients (to name but a few) all benefit from the generous donations of blood givers.

Kirsty and Liz meet Holly
After we'd all learnt a bit about Dracula's favourite drink, our resident blood expert (and Assistant Treasurer) Dr Leanne had prepared a little bloody themed quiz for the group. Did you know that blood can be used as an egg substitute? Bear it in mind, SHWI bakers! (Actually...perhaps not... brings whole new meaning to red velvet cake!) The winners were treated to some Haribo strawberries (as hearts weren't available) but the pride of winning was the real prize! We know how competitive these SHWI quizzes can get...

If you fancy finding out more about blood donation, check out Give Blood – Do Something Amazing

Laura Bainbridge
SHWI Committee member

Monday, 14 July 2014

WI Resolutions - Making a difference on issues that matter to you

Every year all WI members are given the opportunity to suggest issues as 'resolutions' for the national organisation to campaign on. This is a chance to take forward a personal concern and develop it into a national campaign once adopted at the NFWI Annual Meeting.

It's the time of year to put forward resolutions so if you have great idea for a resolution or would like further information, please read on…

What makes a good resolution?

·         Is it topical and does it fit with current areas of public interest?
·         Does it have clear and realistic targets?
·         Would the change bring a meaningful and sensible outcome?
·         Does it reflect the current situation?
·         Is it based on accurate data?
·         Is there an opportunity to obtain positive media coverage?
·         Does it fit with the overall WI vision?

If you need some inspiration, here are details of other campaigns the WI is involved in...
Support is available through your WI group, our local Federation and Federation Resolution Advisors.  The deadline for submission of resolutions is 12 September. Full details and submission forms are available here.

Any questions please email us 

Kim x
SHWI Secretary

Sunday, 6 July 2014

SHWI do Ceilidh dancing

Before the the last meeting, I had never been to a ceilidh. I didn't really know it was, but suspected it would be like line dancing with more tartan and less denim. My only "experience" of ceilidhs was knowing that my old high school held them for charity. But no way would my 15 year old self go to a dance with her parents in hall used for assembly! (But then my 15 yr old self thought the charity ale festivals were lame too, things change). 

Beautiful cupcakes are de rigour at our meetings
The meeting started off as any other - business first, a little break for natter, tea and cake, then on to the activity. What made June's guests extra fabulous is that they included one of our own. SHWI lady and leader of our Sheffield Food Festival stall for the past two years , Zoë Loveday is the caller for local ceilidh band Big Stuffed Fish. Her boyfriend Tom and his father make up the rest of the band.

Zoë had come with her own megaphone (handcrafted by super-handy Tom) and the menfolk were equppied with a washboard and melodeon. The chairs were pushed to the sides and everyone gathered in the meeting room - unbeknownst to me, this was the calm before the storm.

Zoe and her megaphone told us what to do
Anyone who had no idea what they were doing needn't have worried. Zoë explained everything - where to stand, what moves to do and where to go. There was skipping about, ducking under arms and "stripping the willow" as the room filled with catchy traditional music and big smiles all round. I had NEVER seen so much physical activity in that room before - there were ladies dancing around all over the place! I had wisely chosen to stay out of this - someone needed to take photos of the ladies flinging each other around as Zoë called out instructions. Plus I have zero co-ordination and had a belly full of beer. So how I ended up dancing is beyond me. The moves in a ceilidh are relatively simple. But not when you have had a Russian Imperial stout. Once Vice President Jen's shoe came off mid dance, I was gone and spent the rest of the dance laughing hysterically. Good job the other ladies knew what they were doing and were able to manouvre me to the right places.
Our members have a go at ceilidh dancing
I cannot tell you how much laughter was in that room. Everyone seemed to have a really good time and it was dissapointing when it ended after one big final dance where everyone got to strip the willow*!
The good news is Big Stuffed Fish can be found playing at events all over South Yorkshire - so be sure to check them out.

(*stripping the willow is a dance move and does not involve any actual stripping or willow. So no funny ideas!)

Laura Bainbridge
SHWI Committee member

Monday, 30 June 2014

Four Ladies Go to Leeds - SHWI at the WI Annual Meeting

A damp and grey Saturday morning dawned and four SHWI ladies braved the inclement weather on the M1 North to Leeds for the WI Annual General Meeting. Over five thousand ladies were present from all corners of the United Kingdom brought together by a mutual bond and a love of bunting.

The AGM took place at the Leeds First Direct Arena
The meeting was opened, business discussed and the resolutions raised. This year, the resolution proposed highlighting and promoting the importance of making friends and relatives aware while living of your wishes after death, specifically the donation of organs and tissues. A delicate subject, handled with the decency and gravitas it deserved. All speakers were informed, eloquent and thought-provoking, even the lady tasked with the difficult assignment of arguing against organ donation found it hard not to support the resolution. The floor was opened then to members of the delegation, I think it would be fair to say there were few WI members not moved to tears as we heard tales of a mother who consented to her 10 year-old son's organs being donated, or the lady who was able to see because of a double cornea transplant and the lady who’s donated kidney allowed her to live. With this, the resolution was passed with a 98% majority. Given that the UK has one of the highest family refusal rates in Europe, this motion has such a fantastic potential to save a huge number of lives.

Following the resolution debate was a talk on poetry, literature and the importance of saving our nation's countryside from Sir Andrew Motion. His passion for improving the housing crisis through the use of brown field sites rather than encroaching on our ever-diminishing green belt was almost palpable.

The lunch break came soon after and the SHWI ladies nipped off for a refreshing beverage and cheap lunch at a local Wetherspoons. Luckily, other WIs had the same idea and the Hedley Verity pub was soon invaded by members of Tea and Tarts WI, Cambridge Blue Belles WI, Cookridge Crumpets WI, Holmfirth WI and more. 

WIs from around the country gathered for lunch
The afternoon commenced with a harrowing talk on the worldwide effects of deforestation by Dr George McGavin, failing to protect the nation's rainforests will ultimately lead to their complete destruction, the loss of entire ecosystems and the extinction of species we have yet to discover. The knock-on effects of this would be catastrophic for us in ways we are as yet unable to imagine, but it is within our powers to prevent it. As Dr McGavin highlighted, Plan A is to protect as much natural environment as possible, which will take an immediate, co-ordinated, international effort. This is of such importance because there is no Plan B.

The next item on the agenda was exciting for all - the plans for the WI's Centenary year. Wheels are already in motion to celebrate this auspicious event with the Baton relay underway, the history/cookbook (a double threat and a must for any bookshelf) being published, the documentary due to air and the centenary AGM to be held in the Royal Albert Hall. Each and every WI was encouraged to celebrate our 100th birthday in their own way. If any SHWI-ers have ideas for how this can be done please let the committee know!

The final speaker of the day was the ever effervescent Bill Turnbull, talking about the art of reluctant beekeeping, working at the BBC, sequins and Strictly Come Dancing and how to use the punchline 'hung like a donkey' infront of HRH Queen Elizabeth. An entertaining, light-hearted talk to round off the day - and apparently even the most experienced of television presenters still fears the infamous WI slow clap.

Kirsty, Sarah and Sam from SHWI
Five thousand ladies singing Jerusalem rounded off the day, reminding us all that the WI is more than just making friends and learning. We are part of a movement, we are part of history, and in our own way we have the power to change the country for the better. It was a moment that brought goosebumps out on the skin of even the most sceptical delegates. Roll on our centenary and here's to the next 100.

Sam Foster
SHWI Member