Getting back to normal…?


Well, some plans do come to fruition this summer – the weather kept dry for once!    Our ‘famous’ Trade Table returned to outside the Village Hall in Hill Ridware in early August with a ‘bumper’ harvest of goodies for sale – jams, pickles & marmaalde, knitted & crocheted toys, cakes & biscuits, a variety of knitted jackets & hats, books, handmade cardsnfor all occasions – & a raffle.  The Hygiene Box was there for donations – all were gratefully received.

It was lovely to see villagers sitting with their tea & coffee, & having a good old chinwag.  That’s the benefit of it keeping dry! – & time to enjoy the new-look planting at the Vilalge Hall itself.

Thank you to everyone who supported us – it was so good to see you in person!

We also actually met our 2 new members in person as well – previously we’d just seen them via a Zoom screen.  Welcome ladies!

As for ‘getting back to normal’?  Well, our monthly ‘Take a Break Cafe’ will be open again on Tuesday 7th September from 1030 – 12 noon.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

‘Thank You’ NHS – & all Key Workers….

July 4th 2021 – national ‘Thank You Day’ to all our NHS & Key Workers, who have kept going, & kept all of us ‘going’, throughout the pandemic.  They certainly deserve a whole load of ‘thanks’!  The Ridwares WI had planned a picnic outside the village hall for the Sunday afternoon, in order to meet together in person & say ‘Thank You’ – but the weather had a totally different idea.  It rained… & rained… & rained …. & continued to pour throughout the day.  Result?  A cancelled picnic… & a beautiful cake made by Amy of O’Brien Bakes.

So what to do with it all?  Well, picnics were shared with neighbours anyway, & eaten over the next few days.  But what about the beautiful cake?  Step in Sister Debra, who lives in the village, ‘to the rescue’.   We were so pleased to donate the cake to her & her colleagues at Solihull Hospital – who really enjoyed sharing & eating it, & appreciated its meaning of ‘thankfulness’.

‘Thank You NHS!

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 19 …



June 2021 saw something approaching ‘normality’ return to life in the Ridwares for our WI ladies.  Firstly that meant working with the BKV Team, & other villagers, to re-plant the village in a blaze of colour.  That meant numerous planters throughout Hill Ridware itself as well as round the village hall in particular.  Kate Britt has updated the WI heart border and the new VE/VJ planter was co-ordinated with its red & white colour scheme.  The weather kept good for us – for a change –  and everyone’s hard work was rewarded with fruit cake, smiles & comments from others as to a ‘job well done’!  The watering rotas now begin in ernest as we hope for proplonged sunshine.  The plants, let alone us, need it!

The Committee managed to meet ‘in person’ for the first time in months and are working hard to re-do the programme of meetings and events for the rest of this year & for the new WI year of 2022.  Karen Parsons (Secretary) had been keeping a bottle of Prosecco especially for the occasion, which was much appreciated and , together with the strawberries & chocolate cake, certainly kept the little grey cells of those present fluid & whirling.  Thank you for your hospitality Karen.

Jackie Layzell, one of our ladies & a member of  Lichfield Litter Legends, was also active during the St Giles Summer Solstice Walk, along with her fellow ‘litter fairies’, not only completing the walk itself round Lichfield City Centre but also collecting litter en route!  Great fun was had by all – and lots of money raised for local Hospice care.  Well done Jackie!

Congratulations to Gill Bradbury’s daughter, Caroline, on her promotion to a Deputy Headship in a Leeds Primary School, and to Estelle, Tina Gough’s grand-daughter  on her BA Hons degree from Nottingham University.  A new career & life in London awaits her. Congratulations also to Abbie & Ellie on their respective University Degree success.  Good luck to them all in the future.

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 16 …..

March 17th saw the ladies of The Ridwares WI celebrating St Patricks Day via Zoom. Recipes for soda bread were shared, duly baked & then eaten ‘on the day’.  Irish whiskey, or Cream liquer, depending on your individual preference, was drunk.  We learnt about St Patrick & the myths associated with his life & work, aspects of Irish culture & were amazed at ‘Riverdance’, yet again.  The general agreement was that we would leave this particular art form to the professionals, rather than take it up as a new ‘Lockdown activity’.  We also learnt how to create a ‘nappy fold’ item, complete with shamrock to hold our ‘gold (coins) at the end of the rainbow’ in our latest ‘craft along with Gaye’ activity. Another afternoon filled with laughter & friendship.

Tuesday March 23rd saw us standing in silence & remembrance at 12 noon for the national minute’s silence, called for by the Marie Curie charity, at our WI Garden with its ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ display.  It was a chance to pause & remember those we have lost during the pandemic. Incredible to think that we have spent, essentially, a whole year in Lockdown with our everyday lives so severely changed.   In contrast that evening, along with lighting our doorsteps at 8pm, a number of us  joined with WI ladies across Staffordshire for a floral art demonstration courtesy of Jonathan Moseley, organised by SFWI.  He is a very talented & entertaining speaker & demonstrator & gave us ideas for an Easter table arrangement & how to ‘do’ floral art being more environmentally aware.  A lovely evening.

Our Easter 2021  meeting saw us learning about chocolate, a subject very dear to many a heart, courtesy of Jane Napper, aka ‘The Chocolate Lady’.  The wonders of Zoom meant that Jane could teach us about tempering chocolate & how to make & decorate an Easter egg as well as individual chocolates from Whistable, whilst we were in rural Staffordshire.  Totally yummy!  Very informative & inspiring – an excellent Speaker.  Easter bonnets were created & worn by our ladies during the meeting – very colourful & different!

  Easter also saw the delivery of the latest ‘goody bags’ to all our ladies.  At least the sun shone for a change for most of us on ‘delivery day’!  The goody bags had been crafted by the Committee & contained sunflower seeds to plant, chocolate to eat & other ‘treats’. Designed to bring a smile to the face – which they duly did.

Plans are afoot for the coming months with regular ‘Craft & Chatter sessions’ & monthly meetings – the venue depending on how the Lockdown easing pans out.

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 15 …

    ‘HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL’ – what a wonderful inspiration for Spring 2021…. at least that’s what us in The Ridwares WI & the Best Kept Village Comitteee thought!  The response to this poem/theme by places like Malmesbury in Wiltshire, got us thinking.  How could we ‘translate’ this to our village of HIll Ridware?  Well, this is the response so far…..

  The WI ‘garden’ area outside the Village Hall is a riot of colour & positivity.  Thanks to Karen, Alan & Wendy, in particular, for all their hard work in making this happen.  It really does bring a smile to your face.

If you look hard as you wander through the village, you will spot a number of ‘Wreaths of Hope’ in windows & on doors, crafted by ladies of The Ridwares WI during one of their afternoon ‘Craft & Chatter’ sessions – a ‘craft along with Gaye’ activity via Zoom.  Very colourful!

Watch this space for further responses to ‘Hope Springs Eternal’….

What can you do to embrace this theme?

Tales of the Lockdown ….. Episode 11

November saw us embracing Zoom… With all the changing regulations & advice, as Covid-19 continued to spread, there was no other way for us to meet up.  So we experimented with a Committee meeting… then a ‘Coffee & Chat’ session… & then finally, a scheduled Zoom meeting for us all.  What a giggle!  It took us 45 minutes to all log in, wave & natter – well, we are a friendly lot & hadn’t seen a lot of our fellow ‘Ridware WI Ladies’ for months.  There was a lot to catch up on.  The focus for our get together was a ‘Craft along with Gaye’ session.  Kits had been distributed & we all learnt the ‘Scrappy Strip’ technique, resulting in a handmade Christmas card.  The results were very impressive.

With no ‘Tinsel & Trimmings’ community event able to take place this year,  that did not mean that we were ‘forgetting’ Christmas.  Christmas was not going to be ‘cancelled’ in Hill Ridware!  Karen organised the donation of the Christmas tree for outside the village hall as usual.   The garden area was festooned with a wonderful garland & Alan W, Bob & Alan G helped decorate the tree.  Santas also formed part of the decor – part of a community initiative to display Santas in gardens, windows etc around the village for children to count as they went on their ‘daily walk’.

  Our December Zoom meeting centred around Karen showing us how to decorate a wreath for our front doors, as well as creating a table centrepiece & a grave memorial.  Phew!  So inspiring – pens whizzed across notebooks with relish.  Again, a lot of laughs ensured.

The year ended with another Zoom ‘coffee & chat’ session.  2020 has been an unusual year – the first time in our lives that we have shared in the impact of a global pandemic which has upended all our lives.  ‘Hope’ seems to be the theme for 2021 – still in ‘lockdown’, but with the promise of so much more.  Happy New Year!

Tales of the Lockdown … Episode 10

   ‘Lockdown mark 2’……  so our planned ‘Ridwares Remembers’ event at the Village Hall could not take place….  Wendy & Karen worked very hard to ensure that the area around ‘Tommy’ was suitably adorned with poppies as a fitting tribute to The Fallen & all who served both at home & abroad.  Still, nothing could be organised that might encourage ‘mingling’!

But something very heartwarming & truly fitting to the spirit of Remembrance happened organically instead.  Our President, Karen Wakefield, arranged for wreaths to be laid at the foot of Tommy on behalf of not only The Ridwares WI, but the Village Hall, the Parish Council & St Nicholas Church. …

Then, Jonathan volunteered to sound The Last Post & Reveille on his trumpet & suggested that he would be outside the Village Hall…

Facebook messages talked about standing at ‘the WI memorial’ (ie. ‘Tommy’), rather than just on the doorstep……

On Remembrance Sunday, people organically gathered on the pavements around the Village Hall & the WI garden area … socially distanced of course.  11am saw traffic stopped and many villagers standing together to observe the 2 minute silence.  Karen read the Benyon lines, Jonathan sounded the Last Post & Reveille, & wreaths were laid.

A moving Act of Remembrance in this year of challenge.

Tales of the Lockdown … Episode 9

The Ridwares WI was out ‘sharing the love’ again with another ‘Hug in a Bag’.  Karen commented: “I had a lovely week catching up with so many of you as I delivered your second hug in a bag. I do hope you enjoyed the contents, a bit of fun and frivolity is what we all need at the moment ….”  Particular thanks to Ann Batchelor for making all the beautiful bags – definitely a ‘keep sake’ in themselves!

So there is a quiz and some colouring to do … some bubbles to blow  & remind us to ‘keep safe’ …. whilst having a cup of coffee & eating some biscuits….  So that’s our ladies ‘sorted’ for a while!

Of course, we’ve been itching to get out in our local community & ‘share the love’ further with other villagers.  So on Saturday 12th September we brought our ‘famous’ Trade Table outside  – literally out at the side of the Village Hall!

Homemade jams, pickles & marmalade were for sale – as were homemade cakes, knitted crafts & handmade cards.  Flowers, plants & produce were also available. Thank you to everyone who contributed items for sale – & came to help out on the day.

Particular thanks though to all those villagers who came & supported us.  The monies raised will go towards the provision of Autumn/Winter bedding plants to help keep the ‘BKV’ vibe going throughout the village.


Tales of the Lockdown … Episode 8

Saturday 15th August 2020 …. ‘VJ 75 Day’ ……  Tommy stood guard over the new WI commemorative planter outside the Village Hall …. bunting was raised around the Village Hall, as well as down Oaklands Close ….. as residents came out on their driveways to commemorate, & celebrate 75 years since the end of the Second World War with ‘Victory in Japan’.  Friends were invited to join residents…. picnics were eaten, wine drunk (as well as tea/coffee, the odd G&T, Prosecco etc) and cake was shared.  We were even ‘visited’ by a vintage car & tractor!

The weather kept good for us for most of the time – a slight shower sent us indoors for a brief spell, but we were back out in the evening for a ‘concert’ & sing-a-long.

A lovely time was had by everyone – it was so good to meet up with neighbours & friends!




Tales of the Lockdown ….. Episode 7

Life in ‘Lockdown’ continues to be ‘different’ for us in The Ridwares WI.  We still can’t meet up as a group, but are finding ways of keeping in touch as well as helping our community.

Happy Birthday to Liz Humble, Anna McCallum, Meryl Mattey, Chris Lowries, Mary Meddings, Jean Hodgskiss, Wendy Thomas and Yvonne Banks! Congratulations to Clare and Martin Brown who celebrated their Ruby Wedding anniversary on Sunday and also to Anthea and Ivan Smith on the birth of their new great granddaughter – Ada.

The BKV planters are all growing nicely – as is our WI heart shaped flower bed.  Thanks to Deb Wilson & Yvonne Higgins for their weeding – much appreciated!

Jude and Angela have been busy knitting new born baby hats which have now been passed on to Good Hope, New Cross and Leicester hospitals.  The maternity units are very appreciative.  Karen has also received, and passed on, a bag of gorgeous cardigans, hats and little socks for premature babies, donated by a lady who runs the craft club in the village.  Thank you to all of you!

Remember the Hygiene Box initiative that we started before Lockdown?  Well, we couldn’t let what we had already collected go to waste, so Karen made a request on Facebook for any further donations – and was inundated!  Ann Batchelor made 60 beautiful toiletry bags for us, which have been duly filled and taken to the Hygiene Bank where they will be distributed to those in need.  Thank you Anne, and to everyone who donated toiletries.  This story was picked up by the Staffordshirre Federation and they have given us a mention in the latest SFWI newsletter – The Ridwares WI has been referred to as “Community Champions”.  Well done ladies!!

As for keeping in touch with eachother, well, we all received a ‘Hug in a Bag’ – in lieu of a real hug & meeting up in person.  Particular thanks to Karen & Alan for delivering the vast majority of these to all the members – the Sat Nav certainly had it’s work cut out navigating the roads & by-ways of rural Staffordshire!  Karen commented that it made her appreciate just how far some of our ladies travel to get to our meetings & events, and how lovely it was to actually have a (socially distanced) catch-up with so many members in person.  These ‘Hugs’ were very well received & much appreciated by all.

As to meeting up in person, things are still uncertain…. but we will keep you informed.  Until then,

Stay Safe – Be Kind – Kia Kaha  (Stay Strong)