During the first part of our July meeting Eileen Riches, our delegate to the National AGM this year, gave us her report on the conference. She said that walking into the Royal Albert |Hall, especially when it is filled with 5000 women, was truly awe-inspiring. The NFWI chairperson, Mrs Ruth Bond, welcomed everyone and in her speech pointed out that over the last year 20,000 new members had joined the WI and 145 new branches had been formed. In the treasurer’s statement which came next she likened the accounts to knitting: those of individual WIs are like stocking stitch – fairly simple – but those of National could be compared to fair-isle – highly complicated. On the subject of knitting, in the afternoon an attempt was made to break the world record for knitting and get the feat recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The ladies knitted away industriously for 15 mins. but will have to wait 3 months to know if they have achieved their aim. The guest speaker in the morning was Julian Fellowes, he of Gosford Park fame, and in the afternoon Dr. Maggie Alderin-Pocock, a British Space Scientist, who supported her two-year-old daughter Laurien in a sling for the duration of her talk. Her motto is Make space-ships not war. The Chair ended the meeting with the slogan Your WI needs you and your community needs the WI. Stop-press news: the NFWI is gearing up to throw its weight behind a campaign on behalf of dairy farmers as price reduction notices have been issued by the main dairy processors and this will have a direct impact on at least 27% of farmers for whom life has not exactly been a bed of roses even before this recent blow.

Our speaker was Mr. Nigel Wright, manager of Wiltshire Farm Foods at Great Dunmow, Essex, who came to tell us about their operation and to bring us samples of the meals they produce. Their modus operandi is to deliver direct to the door and, although they cater mainly to the over 65s, mothers with young children and night-shift workers are also included. They can take into account special dietary requirements and also produce pureed items disguised at look like normal meals. The delivery service is free and they supply courses in different sizes: hearty, normal and mini. The average price is around £3-50. They try to ensure that the same driver calls each time so that the customer gets to know him and these drivers can make themselves useful on occasions by changing light bulbs, delivering letters or just sitting down for a chat. As many of their clients are old and frail the driver can be a useful contact in times of trouble. If when they deliver they get no reply they will either go to a neighbour or phone a relative. After this Mr Wright heated up some of his meals in a microwave and we indulged in a very peasant taster session.

V E Bines


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