‘WI Talk’ by Sheila Goldsworthy

Former CFWI Chairman and current Assistant Media Officer Sheila Goldsworthy writes a wonderful monthly WI column for The Cornishman. Here is Sheila’s March column:

With wheelbarrows primed and ready, gardening gloves waiting and forks and trowels clean and shining, the glorious show of spring flowers is encouraging us all to step out and make a robust start to greet the sunshine in the garden.

There is plenty of gardening information in the March issue of County News, however it would also be a very good idea to also take a trip to Chy Noweth. ‘Wildlife in Our Gardens’ is the beguiling title of a very informative day being held at there on Wednesday 18 May. Who wouldn’t want to encourage birds and hedgehogs into our gardens? Three excellent speakers are on the schedule: Jenny Parker, the warden from the RSPB Reserves in Cornwall; Liam Shoesmith, a great friend of the WI from Truro Parks Department; and a speaker from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Not only shall we learn how to make a mini nature reserve for our gardens, but we will be given ideas about encouraging garden creatures which also include information about soil and compost, plants, landscaping, feeding and housing wildlife such as birds and hedgehogs. We are assured there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion, plus more information on practical issues such as making wildlife homes, composting, seeding and planting.

An extra bonus to this day will be the display of all the Allsop Cup entries for Operation Hedgehog, giving members a chance to view the extraordinary hard work by the WIs that entered this year-long study. It has been a magnificent achievement. We know that WI members love hedgehogs and many are fervent supporters of Prickles and Paws Hedgehog Rescue at Cubert, collecting newspapers and contributing to charity events.

More gardening advice is given in the March issue of County News under the ‘Green Corner’ with a very comprehensive article on buying peat.

Gardening advice continues with a superb event organized by the Floral Art and Gardening Sub-committee on Thursday 22 June, when members have a unique opportunity to visit the Trevince Estate at Gwennap. These beautiful gardens will be hosted by the owners for the benefit of WI members only, privately and not open to the general public on that day. What a treat for members! Head gardener Bradley Newton will lead a workshop on ‘Unusual Ways and Unusual Plants to Propagate’, with samples to take home! Members gather in the Cart Shed Café with a welcoming hot drink. They then divide into two groups, one attending the workshop and the other touring the garden with owner Richard Stone. After lunch, the groups will swap over. Members are free to stay on until 5pm to explore these beautiful gardens which are currently being restored to their former glory.

The Floral Art and Gardening Sub-committee has a busy time ahead because they are the organising sub-committee for the Royal Cornwall Show Cup Competition this year under the heading ‘Family Celebration’ in the WI Marquee. We hope that everyone will support this acclaimed County Show after the pandemic forced its absence. The closing date for all the competitions being held in the WI Marquee is 31 March.

The Federation Chair is holding a Coffee Morning at St Erme Community Centre on Friday 6 May from 10am-1pm. The cost is £3 payable on the door. As usual, there will be a wide variety of stalls and a chance to meet up with other members for a delicious cup of coffee while enjoying a happy social occasion and supporting the Federation.

We are also reminded that instead of the Spring Countdown meeting, this year we are meeting in three different venues to hear a discussion on the selected resolution to be debated at the NFWI Annual Meeting in Liverpool in June. This is such a vital issue for members who have for generations been aware that our debates and resulting votes have made such a difference to our society. For example, the question of rural post offices has been raised frequently starting off with Madron in 1945. The urgency for cancer screening started in 1964, and its importance is just as relevant today. The Freedom from Hunger campaign resolution was moved by Cornwall in 1961, and members were made aware of the importance of recycling and disintegration of plastic from the 1970s onwards – these are topics which every WI member has become accustomed to hearing, right up to the present day.

We feel grateful to all those past members who have been instrumental in promoting this quote: “The WI has a long history of campaigning on a wide range of issues that matter to women and their communities.”





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