Cornwall Federation rubs elbows with royalty in Newquay!

Cornwall Federation of Women’s Institutes were delighted to be invited to a celebration in Newquay today, with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as the honoured guest – and we were excited that Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall, accompanied Her Royal Highness for the start of the visit.

The event took place at Tregunnel Hill in Newquay – a development on Duchy land, built with sustainability at its heart, including using local materials, and with regionally distinctive architecture.

The plan was for the event to take place outside – but torrential rain set in. Help was at hand – and the whole affair moved into the fire station!

Colonel Edward Bolitho, Lord Lieutenant, welcomed the royal couple. The Duchess of Cornwall had celebrated her 70th birthday this week and she was presented with a beautiful cake, which she and Prince Charles cut with the Lord Lieutenant’s sword. Sadly, we did not get to taste it. The Duchess of Cornwall then toured the event and stopped to sit, chat and shake hands with everyone.

The Eden Project had laid on a Big Lunch for the Hill residents, who were all invited. The Big Lunch is lovely event that encourages neighbours to enjoy a lunch together once a year in a simple act of community, friendship and fun..

Newquay WI provided and served a huge and fabulous buffet for everyone else – include police, fire fighters, Special Branch! A right royal feast it was. The Duchess of Cornwall was most impressed – and had a special word with Newquay WI President Anne Wilson.

Next, County Chairman Barbara Corbett introduced Her Royal Highness to all the rest of us, and the Duchess much admired the Royal Cornwall Show competition winning entries, which were on display. We presented her with a pretty posy and wished her many happy returns.

As the Duchess moved on to see Shelterbox, a vineyard and other displays, we happily tucked in to the buffet, accompanied by fabulous music from The Steelers, a youth steel band from Newquay.

What a nice way to spend a rainy day!

– Julia Havard, Cornwall Federation Vice-Chair

You can see more photos here.

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Join the Resistance!

Surfers Against Sewage have today launched their new ‘Wasteland‘ campaign, urging all of us to ‘Join the Resistance’ against plastic pollution.

The Cornwall Federation of WIs is proud to be one of the partners in this important and exciting launch.

‘Wasteland’ puts the issue of single use plastic and plastic pollution firmly on the map and features that terrifying disgrace: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – the solid mass of plastic waste in the Pacific which is the size of a continent.

The campaign asks us to join the resistance against plastic, and a digital toolkit will be sent to all supporters. This is a big step in  the movement for plastic-free coasts and seas.

Read more about ‘Wasteland’ here, or watch this brief highlight film produced by Surfers Against Sewage:

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CFWI at Stithians Show

There were plenty of visitors to the WI Tent at Stithians Show on Monday.

Climate Ambassador Pippa Stilwell was there with a ‘Green Heart’ table, asking visitors to put up a Post-It note on the board, telling us what they love that is threatened by climate change. Here are some of those visitors:


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Exciting FREE Film Screening Event at Denman, 10th August

The WI would like to invite members to join them for a special screening of the true-life drama, Let Me Go, on 10th August at Denman. The exclusive screening will be followed by a Q&A with the Director and Writer of the film Polly Steele and Producer Lizzie Pickering.

Starring Juliet Stevenson, Jodhi May, Lucy Boynton and Karin Bertling, Let Me Go is based on the true-life story of Helga Schneider who was abandoned by her mother in 1941 when she was only four years old. The film is set in the year 2000, following not only Helga and her mother’s journeys but the next two generations’ and how they suffer from the trauma created over 70 years ago.

Producer Lizzie Pickering and Director and Writer Polly Steele

Let Me Go is a film about mothers and daughters, about trans-generational family relationships, about ghosts from the past and the impact they leave on the present. It is a film about letting go of your past wounds and acknowledging how many generations it takes before the scars of trauma start to heal.

Let Me Go is released in selected UK cinemas and digital download on 15th September by Evolutionary Films.

If you are interested in attending this free film screening, please complete and return the application form or send an email to with the relevant information. We kindly request that full contact information is provided for all of those entered on to the application form, including individual email addresses.

Each person who has been allocated a space will be notified via email. Attendance is free and places will be allocated on a ballot and will be drawn on the 28th July. Attendees are asked to arrive from 6pm for a 6:30pm start. Light refreshments will be provided. The day will finish at approximately 10pm.

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Climate Change and Knitting in Zennor!

Take a hat knitted in the shape of a capercaillie, with a beautiful fan tail. Add a lilac knitted tanktop decorated variously with a seal, a flock of house martins, a jay with a Z underneath, and a white snake for a neckscarf – spot the association!

Wildlife photographer David Chapman’s talk to Zennor WI earlier this month fell within the Climate Coalition week of action which invites us to show the love for the things we cherish, so the topic ‘Wild About Cornwall’ fitted beautifully with Zennor members’ passion for the County and with our understanding of the need to protect the things we love from Climate Change.

Speaker David Chapman with Genie Krakowska Smart (left) and model Fae Esme Krakowska (right).

David’s talk opened with his spectacular knitted garments. The link was music bands, but also wildlife, and the knitwear – and the guesswork – served to introduce a series of beautiful photographs taken by David of creatures we love and are desperate to protect – puffins, guillemots, a kestrel, pinsharp, hovering above the camera: a peregrine with a fierce yellow eye and slate-grey plumage. Many seabird populations are in sharp decline: in the case of puffins the drop in numbers is partly attributable to shifting fish populations as ocean temperatures rise. However, the handsome Cornish chough is prospering and increasing in numbers due to the restoration of the short well-grazed coastal pastures where it likes to feed.

Some 30 people, members and guests, attended the meeting at Zennor Village Hall. On display we had information about climate change, including the Climate Coalition report Weather Warning: Britain’s Special Places Under Threat. We also invited people to show the love on a post-it note for things they fear to lose to climate change. Twenty-two people posted notes on a large green heart, and responses included the Arctic Circle, song thrushes, fresh water supplies in Africa, bees, insects, coral reefs, the four seasons – spring, summer autumn and winter – and, close to home, one visitor wrote, “Praa Sands cliffs – my house might fall into the sea”.

There is plenty we can do as individuals, said Pippa Stilwell, Zennor WI President. For example we can write to the Prime Minister and ask her to stand firmly with Italy, Germany and France to protect the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, now threatened by the Trump administration. We can sign up to the Climate Vision 10 Pledges  to reduce our own carbon footprint (see The Cornishman February 21 2017). And we can write to our MPs and urge them to support the renewable energy industry in Cornwall.

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Beavers in Cornwall: Return of a Keystone Species

After being hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago, beavers are being brought back to Cornwall by Cornwall Wildlife Trust and partners Woodland Valley Farm. This ground-breaking project hopes to show that beavers can help create new wildlife habitat, make our water cleaner and crucially reduce flooding.

Beavers will be reintroduced to a fenced area, upstream of Ladock village, near Truro, that has suffered severe flooding. Our partner Universities will study the before and after impacts, building on research from reintroductions in the UK and across Europe. The results will help us find out if this native species could once again become part of the Cornish landscape to help us combat flooding – naturally.

The list of species that have been reintroduced following extinction in the UK is short; white-tailed eagle, great bustard, large blue butterfly and Eurasian beavers. We could perhaps be accused of favouring reintroduction of either large and charismatic or small and beautiful species, whilst neglecting extinct plants, fungi or less attractive animals. Beaver reintroduction however, is most definitely different. Don’t be fooled into thinking beaver reintroduction is about them being cute furry creatures, or that Cornwall is jumping onto a beaver bandwagon. There is no denying that beavers are large, charismatic animals; but there is far more to them than that.

Beavers are a keystone species; they significantly alter the habitat around them and as a result affect large numbers of other species. They are vegetarian, eating herbs and grasses near the water’s edge in summer and switching to bark and twigs in winter. Beavers create new and more diverse wetland habitats as they go about their business of dam construction, tree coppicing and canal digging. In a fenced project in Devon, a pair of beavers constructed 13 ponds, and amphibian numbers soared as a result. Freshwater insect numbers also increased significantly, providing food for fish. The Cornwall Beaver Project is monitoring fish species and numbers to see how they change over time and we will be sharing the results with local angling groups.

The Cornwall Beaver Project, run by Woodland Valley Farm and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, is working closely with Exeter University researchers to see what impact the beaver dams could have on flood prevention. Research on a small headwater stream in Devon has shown beaver dams and pools slow the flow of river water following heavy rain, potentially alleviating flooding downstream. The Cornwall Beaver Project will test whether or not we get the same effect on a larger stream.

By the same token, during drought periods beaver dams can reduce problems of low-flow in rivers by slowly releasing stored water. A happy side-effect of the slowing of the flow in beaver pools is that silt drops out of the water column, taking excess nitrogen and phosphates with it. Researchers found that river water flowing downstream of a beaver habitat was significantly cleaner than water flowing upstream. The Cornwall Beaver Project also hopes to study the levels of bacteria in water entering and leaving the beaver site. Bacteria from both human and livestock sources affects the quality of our bathing waters. Could the effect of sunlight on the water within beaver-created pools reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in streams and help enhance bathing water cleanliness? We plan to find out.

In the future, beavers and their engineering prowess could have far-reaching impacts. Wider unfenced reintroduction would bring significant change to Cornwall’s rivers over time; although not everyone will think this is a good idea. Across Europe, 26 countries have brought beavers back, so we have much to learn from those who have already experienced their return. Interesting times lie ahead when, as a society, we decide whether we want these animals back in the wider countryside. For now, let’s just enjoy seeing how the Cornwall beavers settle in and create new habitats at Woodland Valley Farm and collectively learn more about what these fascinating creatures can do.

To find out more about the Cornwall Beaver Project, click here

~ Cheryl Marriott
Head of Conservation, Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Adviser, CFWI Environment & Public Affairs Sub-Committee


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Whole Again Communities (Penzance) looking for volunteers!

Whole Again Communities (WAC) began life as a soup kitchen at the Treneere Estate’s community space in Penzance, but has since grown into so much more.

Using surplus produce from local supermarkets, Director Liz Sullivan and her team hold community workshops as well as distributing the soup, curries, bread, etc. made at the workshops to people in need. 

Liz says, “WAC has inspired and supported enthusiastic residents to make great healthy food using local produce. We are also training people to take this idea out to encourage healthy eating in other communities. Our team of dedicated volunteers help with every step of our great vision. From baking bread to making soup they work tirelessly to promote healthy eating on a shoestring budget. We have a passion for encouraging the people who come to us to produce cheap, locally sourced, healthy and balanced soups with tasty breads and juices.”

WAC is currently in need of volunteers and Liz has asked if any of our WI members in the Penzance area might be interested in helping out.

Liz is searching for someone who would like to serve on the WAC Board. Ideally, this would be someone to oversee finances, with marketing and/or catering experience and someone who could produce a newsletter and to liaise between WAC and their volunteers. There is already someone in place to handle finances, so the Board member would only be responsible for overseeing that work. There are monthly Board meetings and the estimated time commitment involved is about four hours per month.

If you’re not able to to give the time commitment to serve on the Board, WAC is also always on the look-out for volunteers to help on an ongoing basis with coordinating excess food collection and distribution and to assist with food production. 

This is a great organisation which does fantastic work in the community. If you’re interested, please get in touch with Liz at 07557 807015 or by completing the contact form on the WAC website here.

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Marshgate WI to hold 4-Corner Day!

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Zennor WI Member’s Art Work on Display

Congratulations to Jennifer Gourley of Zennor WI for successfully completing her HNC in Art and Design at Penwith College. During the Golowan Festival in Penzance, which ran from 16th until 25th June, Art and Design students held their annual exhibition, Tidal Memories, in a large marquee on the Wharfside. Jennifer’s sculpture Wartime Women was among the exhibits.

The sculpture brought together the experiences of women who had lived through war and conflict: from two cups representing everything one woman escaped with during the Russian Revolution of 1917; to the corrugated metal plinth and scaffolding evoking many women’s experiences of World War II; to a row of ceramic shoes, dirty and broken, to reflect on the journey of women refugees today.

Hanging from the scaffolding was a series of cyanotype prints recounting the varied wartime experiences of women in Zennor WI; both those who were children during World War II and those whose female relatives  lived through it. The stories were difficult to read, some words clearer than others. This was intentional, conveying as it does the difficulty in finding out the history of women and their wars.

As part of the sculpture visitors were asked to write their own stories of women and war and leave them for others to read.

We congratulate Jennifer on her accomplishment and on her incredibly moving sculpture.

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Plastic Soup at Liskeard Carnival!

A visiting WI member from the Staffordshire Federation snapped these photos at Liskeard Carnival yesterday.

We think the ladies dressed as ‘Plastic Soup’ may be WI members, and possibly from Liskeard WI, but we’re not sure! If you have any further information about these brilliant costumes, please let us know!

Thank you so much to Clare Lean of Sew-So WI for the photos.

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