The Newsreel

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.

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)




Tales of the Lockdown …. Episode 6

Well,  the Best Kept Village Competition for 2020 may have been cancelled, but when the plants are already ordered, what do you do??????  The simple answer is ‘PLANT’ !.. and that is exactly what some of The Ridwares WI ladies did, together with other villagers, on Saturday morning, 30th May.  What a lovely way to spend the morning in the sunshine.

The colour theme for the planting around the village hall is ‘red, white & blue’.  We might be ‘late’ for the ‘VE 75’ celebrations, but the flowers should be flourishing & looking their best for the ‘VJ 75’ commemorations in August.

Thanks again to Kate Britt for planting up the WI heart shaped flower bed, to Alan & Karen for ordering & collecting the plants, the BKV Committee for keeping the inspiration going, & to the Parish Council for their financial support.

So it’s not just the planters that are looking good…  lots of ladies are enjoying the fruits of their labours in their back gardens.  How wonderful that we can now meet up outside with a few friends and enjoy a coffee (or glass of wine) together!  Angela has got the paddling pool out, but has only got as far as dipping her toes in.  Sue has been keeping fit virtually – & still finding time for sewing.  Betty hopes to move back to her cottage very soon following the flood which devastated her home – although we’re not sure how Meryl will feel about giving back her cat!!

A few members have celebrated LOCKDOWN birthdays, including Karen Parsons, Jan Fisher, Clare Brown, Tina Gough and June Ewing.  Happy birthday to you all!

Karen is still sending out newsy emails & says: “It was lovely to see Margaret Sawyer the other day and we had a chat on the doorstep, I’m pleased to say she is doing well and is keeping up to date with news on Facebook and on the internet. Joyce still asks about you all and misses all her visits from friends and family but she sends her best wishes to you all.”   And the challenges keep coming – collect those pebbles for World Kindness Day in November!

Sadly, times are not getting brighter for everyone & we send our sincere condolences to Jo Gough on the sad passing of Bernard.  A lovely man who will be missed by a huge number of people.  Our thoughts & prayers are with Jo & her family.

Tales of the Lockdown ….. Episode 5

Yes, Meryl is still looking after Monty, Betty’s cat…..  & reports that Monty is keeping her on her toes … still!!
Recent birthdays:  Gill Bradbury and Doreen Stackhouse… Belated birthday greetings to the pair of you… & ‘Happy Birthday’ to Clare B tomorrow.  We understand that it is a ‘milestone’ one — definitely a cause for celebration!
Lots of gardening is taking place & many of our ladies are making the most of this recent burst of good weather.  At least the Garden centres are open now – hurrah! – although the ‘run on compost’ is noticable.  Almost as bad as getting flour!
That has improved as well, with our ladies helping eachother out with doorstep deliveries when the ‘precious-like-golddust’ is found!  Just think, when we were kids, to knock/buzz someone’s door & then hightail it down the drive used to be punishable… now, it’s just ‘social distancing’!
Our allotmenteers have also been busy in this wonderful sunshine – lots of planting & watering going on for Barbara, Kate & Jackie.  Barabra’s also managed to fit in some golf as well, now that they are allowed back on the Course.  Karen has found that working out in your front garden is not always productive: “I’ve loved reading all your emails and messages and seeing the photos you’ve been sharing with us, I think we will have some super looking gardens this year, just a shame we can’t have our usual walk round them. I’ve been doing a lot of cutting back in my front garden but I seem to spend more time talking to people who walk past than actually gardening, but it’s lovely to see everyone and catch up on their news and I’ve met lots of people who are new to the village. Some of you have also been trying out new recipes, trying out breadmaking and baking for the first time in years! My Bara Brith recipe has been shared, so come next year’s Welsh Tea, I might not be the only one making them.”
Some of our ladies are also having more ‘picnics’ in their respective back gardens – maintaining social distancing whilst catching up with friends & family.  Much needed!
Liz Humble has been keeping busy with making scrubs for the NHS – thank you Liz! – & is sure to share the pattern with you if wanted.  Brenda Grimley has been knitting hearts which are given to patients to hold whilst they are in hospital away from their loved ones.  Aileen has been making face masks for her family – & has spare material etc if you would like it. Well done Ladies!
Plans for a commemorative planter are going ahead & an order has been placed.  We have also made a donation towards the purchase of hand cream for NHS staff and carers and a donation has also been forwarded to the charity ‘Pathway’ in Lichfield. It was felt that it was important for us as a group of women to show our support to a group of women less fortunate than ourselves.

Kath Parson has a request: “Our daughter Kym is due to be married at Lichfield Registry Office on 20th June. We hope the ceremony will still go ahead, however the planned reception will now take place next year. It is likely that if the wedding does take place we will only be allowed to have a handful of people at the ceremony. As this is not what Kym & Kieran planned we would still like to make this day special for them. We are creating a book of ‘special memories’ for Kym & have asked family and friends to send us a special memory of Kym. These will then be stuck into a lovely white leather bound book for her to keep and treasure.  We are working really hard on the garden to ensure it looks lovely for them. I’m hoping to hang bunting around, and have ordered some off the internet. However, as we have a large garden and it’s quite expensive even just for a few metres I wondered if any WI friends have any bunting we could borrow just for the day. If so they can contact me on 07966039797 and I’ll happily collect.

Do let Kath know if you can help her out please, & we do hope that the wedding does take place.

As for our WI meetings & events, well, with the Blythe Group meting in September now cancelled, our diaries are looking pretty empty at the moment.  Karen & the Committee will keep you informed as & when we are allowed to get together again.  It’s hard being apart like this, but we can do it & will come through the other side smiling, talking & laughing as we normally do.  The WI spirit in each of us, will keep us going!

Kia Kaha (stay strong) ladies.






Tales of the Lockdown … Episode 4

VE75 Day… How was yours?

Well, for many ladies in the Ridwares WI, & their friends & neighbours, the celebrations on Friday 8th May were very different to what had been planned & talked about.  True to form, a great day was had by all – & homes, streets & the village as a whole, looked wonderful!

Meryl & Wendy decorated the trees outside the village hall with strips of red, white & blue knitting.  Karen & Alan put up a seemingly endless supply of bunting around Oaklands Close, as did most of the residents there!  It was a sea of red, white & blue! Thanks also to Wendy for the Union Jack by the oak tree itself.

Friends & neighbours brought out picnics, chairs, tables, glasses & wine/beer/prosecco (whatever tipple caught their fancy) onto their drives & front gardens & settled down to enjoy the afternoon, celebrating & commemorating ‘Victory in Europe’ 75 years ago.

The afternoon began with The Last Post, followed by Churchill’s speech… & then the music began…  A good sing-a-long followed.  Thanks to Ashley & the Chadwick Arms for organising the broadcast & to Alan for sorting out loud speakers in Oaklands Close & providing the song sheets!

Cake was shared  – with much fun & laughter… & yes, social distancing was observed!




Those in the Oaklands,  were even visited by the Police… & the Land Army ….





The sun stayed out & the weather was warm – most unlike a British Bank Holiday! – so people just stayed outside & enjoyed themselves ….  What a wonderful atmosphere!

This continued into the evening when Keith Vernon had organised a sing-a-long in Oaklands Close.  Song sheets were again provided & sound filled the street!  The only thing missing from a traditional Cockney celebration (according to Gaye) was a conga & dancing – both unable to happen because of social distancing…..

Kath Parson describes her family celebrations: “We had a lovely VE day celebration, Mum & I made a big banner using an old sheet and some permanent coloured pens. We did this on the kitchen table…. later I found lots of coloured squiggles on the surface of the table…so an hours furious cleaning was the order of the day!  The banner says ’Thank you to our WW2 Heroes,” Kent hung this up outside their bedroom window, along with some flags so all the passers by could enjoy them too. We also strung some bunting over our new garden arch.  We had a nice VE Day tea in the garden which Mum & Dad seemed to enjoy and also managed to stand at the gate and see our neighbours enjoying tea (practising social distancing, of course) on the green outside our house. It was really lovely to see everyone enjoying each other’s company. Mum & Dad enjoyed all the waves and good wishes from our neighbours.

Gaye asked her mum & her mum’s neighbour about what they remember about VE Day itself in 1945 & discovered 2 very different experiences!  Gaye’s mum was at school in Barry, South Wales, all set to sit her Higher School Certificate examinations before leaving school at 17 years old.  She remembers that the local lads dressed up as Ivy Benson & her band, whilst she & her friends dressed up as the Black & White Minstrels, all to put on a show.  No one was offended!  There was an American Army Camp behind their houses – segregated African American troops – who all joined in.  She remembers that any of the Forces who were around came & joined in the local street parties.  As for the food?  Can’t recall!  Mum’s neighbour (J), on the other hand, was back in Forest Gate, North London having been living with an ex-neighbour in Swindon due to a bomb blast in the next street which had taken the roof off the top flat that they lived in.  Her mum returned to Forest Gate at regular intervals to argue with their landlord about getting the roof back!  She must have been successful, because by February 1945 they were home & J was back in the first year of Grammar School being expected to make up all the work she had missed with no extra help!  J remembers the feeling of euphoria at the reality of ‘Hitler not chucking bombs at us‘!  She distinctly recalled the problem of the V2 rockets hitting London, as unlike the previous V1 rockets/Doddlebugs, you couldn’t hear them until they landed. “This was very frightening as it meant that some poor soul was killed.  VE Day meant that there was no more worry about this anymore.”  J commented that the street party wasn’t in her own street at all, as they were visiting an aunt & cousins, so had an impromptu party there.  She remembers the singing & dancing round the bonfire in the middle of the street.  They spent VE Night sleeping in neighbours’ or aunts’ homes… &, of course, rationing continued!

So, how were your VE 75 Day celebrations?  Don’t forget where you packed away the bunting, as there is VJ 75 Day in August to celebrate as well…….!