Our monthly meetings are on the first Tuesday of the month in Cotes and Standon Community Centre,Station Road, Cotes Heath, Staffordshire, ST21 6RS, which has full access for anyone with mobility problems. Meetings start at 7.15pm and last about 2 hours. You do not have to be a member of the WI to pay us a visit, but we charge visitors £3-00.
January 8th New Year Meal
February 5th Volunteering at Donna Louise Speaker Julie Beeston
The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice
The word hospice tends to evoke sad and gloomy thoughts about end of life care, but as members of Standon and Cotes Heath WI were to learn at their last meeting nothing is further from the truth. Opened in 2003 to serve the whole of Staffordshire and Cheshire this hospice is all about living and fun. It aims to provide the best life possible for as long as possible to children with life limiting or life threatening illnesses by providing respite care and end of life support to whole families. The many, specially designed facilities provide safe places where children can play with their siblings and parents and experience activities they might otherwise never have the opportunity to do. Art and music therapy play a vital role in allowing feelings to be expressed. A painting of children flying kites depicts, in a way that words alone cannot, that in this activity a child in a wheelchair is the same as any other child. There is great emphasis on asking the children what they would like and the vivid colours that the children have selected for the walls in their play areas may not be to everyone’s tastes, but they are bright and stimulating and provide a perfect backdrop for parties, of which there are many.
Perhaps the biggest testimony to the ethos of this hospice was the decision to continue to support the children who have come through it into adulthood. Most care services for children end at the age of 18 and the only respite care available would be a care home or a bed in a geriatric ward. These very young adults still need support and they will continue to get it. This does mean that an extra £1 million needs to be raised each year. As stated on their website the Donna Louise is there, wherever, whenever, always.
March 5th AGM
April 2nd Money Matters! Speaker Kate Whitby-Samways
Unfortunately our speaker was unable to attend our meeting because of illness. Wendy came to our rescue with a quiz that had us all scratching our heads. I never could remember dates!
May7th The UK 999 Service Speaker General Manager BT Voice Services
We take so much for granted these days and are prone to moan about our services and how nothing is as good as it used to be in the good old days. Well, as was brought home by Geoff Hickman, the Manager of the UK’s 999 Service, maybe it is time to think again.
In 1935 there was no 999 service, few people had telephones, and even if you did, to get help in an emergency you had to get through to an operator who would not necessarily prioritise your call. Following a tragic accident in London’s Wimpole Street in which a Dr William Franklin’s wife and four children died in a fire the Postmaster General initiated an enquiry and in June 1937 the world’s first 999 emergency service was born. This only applied to within a 50 mile radius of Oxford Circus, and it was not until the 1960s that all cities had the service, and surprisingly not until 1976 until it was fully nationwide.
The core of the service remains the same today as it was in 1937. It is a free service that puts you through to an operator who will ask which service you require. However today if you call from a landline the address is obtained automatically, and from a mobile, it is possible to get location data to within a 6 metre radius of where you are located. It takes the operator less than half a second to answer a call and the Fire, Ambulance or Police Services have all the information they need to respond within 9 seconds. A far cry from the 17minutes it took to notify the Fire Service for the fire in Wimpole Street in 1937.
The 999 Service deals with 34 million calls each year and the figure is increasing by 5% a year. Sadly 40% of all calls are not emergencies, so please use it wisely.
June 4th Construction of the Thames Barrier Speaker Tony Bailey
At the June meeting of Standon and Cotes Heath WI members were told the story of how the Thames Barrier was conceived and constructed from the very personal point of view of Tony Bailey, who, as Assistant Chief Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food was responsible for the Government’s engineering and contract interests. Full of anecdotes, facts and data the story unfolded to give an insight into the politics of the day, the consequences of failure and the scale and lasting significance of this great engineering project.
Some old black and white Pathé News reel illustrated vividly why the Government embarked on the project. In 1953 the east coast of England and the Thames Estuary felt the full force of a surge tide rushing down the North Sea and into the Thames Estuary, which resulted in a disastrous flood that cost 300 people their lives and huge losses to industry and agriculture. Had the flood reached central London the loss of life could have run into the thousands. Following political decisions to provide a flood barrier the London Flood Warning System was set up as an interim measure until it was operative. But it could only give one hour warning (based on mathematical models and real time tide levels) and the thought of evacuating millions of people from central London in one hour is the stuff of nightmares.
Some of the facts about the Barrier are astounding. The four largest gates weigh 3,700 tonnes each and span across 61.5 metres. They had to be floated down the North Sea from where they were made in Teeside on barges. They required the largest floating cranes in the world to lift them into place at the Barrier site. Even today amongst all the new construction around London it remains an iconic landmark where the best of architecture and engineering design have met.
The Barrier with the downstream bank raising (all the way to the Thames Estuary) took 8 years to construct at a cost of £2.5 billion in present day prices, and was completed in the mid 1980s. It was formally opened, (or closed!), by the Queen in May 1984. There are new threats coming along, global warming and melting ice caps in the Arctic resulting in higher sea levels, but the Barrier was designed to protect London beyond 2030 and current indications are that, subject to appropriate modification, the Thames Barrier will be capable of providing continued protection against rising sea levels until at least 2070.
July 2nd Jewellery Making Speaker Julie
The speaker who had been booked for our last meeting to talk about making jewellery cancelled at the last minute, but the WI is never beaten and one of our creative members brought in colourful beads for us to make decorations. Very soon the tables were strewn with wire and beads and beautiful flowers and butterflies gradually emerged.
The obvious pleasure derived from this simple activity started me wondering about the origin of beads. I was amazed to find that humans had used beads as adornment around 70,000 years ago. Archaeologists discovered two in Tanzania made from ostrich eggshell, which have been dated to around this time. In early civilizations beads were used as a symbol of status, but beads and the materials from which they were made were also used as trading items. The first “glass’ beads were made by the Egyptians using clay covered with a vitreous coating. Later the Romans developed techniques of blowing glass from liquid glass heated in kilns. There is evidence that this was traded in Scandinavia and as far away as Korea and China. By the 15thcentury Venice had become the main bead and glassmaking centre concentrated, as it is today, on the Island of Murano. Glass cutting was developed by the Bohemians in the 1700s. The world famous Swarovski crystal had its origins in Bohemia when Daniel Swarovski, who had been born into a glass cutting family, patented the first electric glass cutting machine leading to the mechanized production of lead glass crystal.
August Strawberry Cream Tea
Our strawberry cream tea took place on 6th August. This was a lovely afternoon that was thoroughly enjoyed by the 17 members who attended. It was also hugely successful in raising funds for our centenary celebrations next year.
September 3rd Money Matters! Speaker Kate Whitby-Samway
Kate Whitby-Samway is the managing Director of RPuk, a business offering independent financial advice that she took over from her father. Based in Stone Kate offers a personal service that is particularly attractive to older clients.Covering such topics as investment bonds, long term care planning, wills and powers of attorney She gave the WI ladies a very informative talk that generated many questions. I suspect that Kate may well have attracted a few new clients by the end of the evening!
October 1st 99th Birthday Meal
November 5th An Island Parish - Speaker Gerald Gardner