The Newsreel

‘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 20 ….

4 of our ladies (Chris S, Kate B, Karen P & Gaye) were very fortunate to have the opportunity of a Painting Workshop with renowned local artist, Sunny Eades at The Old Hall, Mavesyn Ridware.  The weather cooled, which was better for painting outside, and thankfully, the threatened rain did not happen.  None of the ‘gang of 4’ had picked up a paintbrush since their school days  – unless ‘helping’ grand-children counts for some of them? – so there was some trepidation as to the kit needed & the essential question of ‘how exactly do you ‘paint’?’  No worries were needed, however, as Sunny quickly put everyone at their ease, & offered advice & helpful hints no matter which medium was being used – watercolours or acrylics.

Lots of silent concentration on ‘the wall’ was evident – we’ve never been so quiet!   Each lady took a different perspective, & used watercolours (paints or pens) or acrylics to express what they ‘saw’.  The results were very pleasing & so very different!

Everyone was proud of what they had achieved – & it was so good to work in such a supportive & enjoyable environment.  The lovely garden was obviously inspirational!

Sunny’s efforts were of a different calibre, as was only to be expected. Our brushstroke technique definitely needs far more practice if we are to get the definition that Sunny manages.

Future Turner Prize winners? Perhaps not.  There is an awful lot to learn – but it’s so much fun as well.  The village Art Classs beckons for at least one of the ‘gang of 4’.  Thank you to Sunny for her hospitality, time, patience & expertise.

A great time was had by all: ‘fun & friendship’, the core of The Ridwares WI.

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 18 ….

… OR… ‘Dolly Pegs’ & Painted Eggs’ ……

Well, the painted eggs were courtesy of an inspirational demonstration by Sunny Eades, renowned local artist, at the May meeting of The Ridwares WI (via Zoom, naturally).  Sunny provided detailed instructions before her demonstration of how to ‘blow’ eggs – & not to waste the ‘contents’! – & different techniques that could be used to decorate them.  It is always useful to paint them in white first as this gives you a better, smoother surface to work on.  Sunny then demonstrated these techniques & created the most amazing designs, emphasising that you did not have to be a professional artist to produce these incredible results.  Well it certainly inspired us to get ‘blowing’ &  be ‘creative’!

And ‘Dolly Pegs’? … well these are the response to a ‘Presidential Challenge’  by Karen Wakefield, & certainly got the creative juices flowing!  Each member was given 2 Dolly Pegs  & just challenged to ‘decorate’.  Each one is different & a wide range of materials & ideas have been used. Keep on crafting ladies!

Interested in finding out more?  Just contact Karen Wakefield (President)… Looking forward to meeting back in person.

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 17 …


   Well, the sun shone for St George & for us in The Ridwares WI as we met together, via Zoom, to celebrate.  Some of us invited friends to share the afternoon with us in the back garden – so sunglasses were in evidence! We listened to rousing Shakespeare  speech (Henry V) & were cheering for ‘Harry, England & St George!’ at the end.  A Mummers play retold the story of St George & the Dragon, we watched some morris dancing & crafted a ‘tent fold box’ in another ‘craft along with Gaye’.  Gin, tea, or prosecco was drunk – scones & cake eaten.  The afternoon finished with the goose-bump raising of ‘Jerusalem’ sang at the WI centenary at the Royal Albert Hall.  This brought back many happy memories for our President, Karen Wakefield, who also attended the Royal Garden Party that week.  A lovely afternoon full of fun & friendship.

Our April meeting itself was jam-packed as we had 2 Speakers.  Beth came from ‘The Hygiene Bank’ in Cannock to tell us more about why our support is so needed & invaluable.  Unfortunately, the pandemic has only plunged more people into dire need, facng the heart-breaking choice between buying shower gel (for example) or food for your family.  We agree that ‘everyone has the right to feel & be clean’ so will be busy back collecting toiletries to donate with renewed energy & insight.  Emma then talked about how she creates the most amazing flowers to decorate her cakes & how her business (‘Ridware Cakes’) has operated during the pandemic.  She showed us numerous creations & talked about the latest fashion in cakes (transparent layers apparently) – you really did believe that the flowers were ‘real’, rather than fondant.  Amazing!

Preparations are ahead for our AGM next month – it’ll be ‘with a difference’ for certain!

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 14 …

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus (Happy St David’s Day)!

The 1st March saw a wave of yellow amongst ladies of The Ridwares WI as they met together (via Zoom) to celebrate St David’s Day, courtesy of daffodils worn & in vases & jugs.  We practised our Welsh – although our pronouncinations probably left a lot to be desired – & learnt about St David himself, as well as a number of Welsh customs & traditional celebrations. Did you know that leeks pre-date daffodils as a St David’s Day symbol?  Leeks were grown for luck, happiness & to drive away evil spirits.   It was believed that leeks would help them live for ever, so soliders would rub leeks over themselves as a form of protection during battle.  Over the centuries, green & white became the Royal colours of Wales.  it was the Victorians who began to associate daffodils with St David’s Day – a tradition that is now firmly established!

A number of our ladies had also baked some Bara Brith (Welsh Tea Loaf), which was also enjoyed!  As usual, the afternoon was filled with laughter & chatter, especially when making a Pop-Up card – another ‘craft along with Gaye’ activity.  The results were very impressive – & ‘gluey’ fingers dealt with…. – as daffodils in baskets were evident again.

A wonderful get-together & celebration of St David’s Day – full of fun & friendship (as always)!

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 13

February is ‘Show the Love’ for us in The Ridwares WI – focusing on ‘Green issues’ such as climate change & the challenge that this presents to us in our lives.  We are encouraged to focus on what we value on ‘Planet Earth’ – something that many of us have appreciated even more during this pandemic when we have been ‘stuck’ inside.  Those of us who are lucky to have gardens have enjoyed the first signs of Spring & watched the wildlife more carefully.  Out on daily walks? – then you realise what a lovely part of the world we live in!

There are also opportunities ….. for thinking about things differently & for making changes in our daily lives (even if they are small).  The ‘green heart’ is the symbol of the ‘Show the Love’ campaign & we are proud to wear, & display, them.

To that end, we welcomed Anthony Froggatt to our February Zoom meeting who is the 4th generation of his family to farm in the village at Wade Lane Farm.  The farm has diversified in recent years – notably the ‘Just Oil’ range of flavoured rapeseed oils & ‘Just Crisps’.  These are the only 100% British crisps in the UK – the potatoes that are chipped are grown here, as is the the rapeseed oil used to ‘cook’ them & the production of the crisps themselves. All this takes place, not just in the UK, but in the Ridwares.  No other crisps have this pedigree!  We watched some videos about the crisp production, & plan to have a visit to the ‘crisp’ factory later on in the year. Anthony answered a wide range of questions from the ladies present: ranging from the impact of climate change, crop rotation, national & international sales, potato varieties used,  & local employment to the impact of Covid 19 & Brexit on the business.  Many ladies offered their services as ‘crisp taste testers’!    Well, the crisps are award winners in the ‘Great Taste Awards’…..

An excellent informative evening.

February began not just with green hearts, but also with the colour ‘red’ – well, it was ‘Chinese New Year’!  We marked the start of the ‘Year of the Ox’ with another afternoon get-together over Zoom, full of chat & laughter.  Lanterns were decorated for our homes & Karen Parsons talked about the trditions, colours & symbols associated with this ‘new year’ of the ox.  A big thank you also to Mandy from The Cantonese Restaurant at The Chadwick Arms for providing us all with a fortune cookie – much laughter & comment followed as we ragailed eachother with our ‘fortune prospects’.  Should be an intersting year for us all!

Why ‘red’?  In Chinese culture, red is the symbol of happiness, wealth & prosperity – it can ward off evil spirits & bring good luck.  Some things we all need at the moment!

Guo Nian Hao (Happy New Year) !


Tales of the Lockdown … Episode 12

New Year …. new Zoom get-togethers for us in The Ridwares WI!     We got creative in another ‘craft along with Gaye’ session & made a post-it note & calendar holder… and felt very proud of ourselves in the process.  There’s always laughter involved when we ‘meet up’ – catching up on news, both family & local (as well as County & National WI updates) , & waving to each other is still an ‘event’.  Well, it is the only time we get to ‘see’ one another, isn’t it?   Fun & friendship is still what we’re all about in The Ridwares WI, Covid or no Covid….

Cupboards & wardrobes were raided for anything ‘tartan’ for our get-together to celebrate ‘Burns Night in the afternoon.  Whiskey & shortbread were also in evidence.  Anna reminisced about growing up on the West Coast  & how different things were when she & her family moved ‘south’.  We may  speak a common language, but the same words can have totally different meanings. Fond memories of Scottish holidays were also shared by many ladies. What a lovely way to spend the afternoon.