Smisby Women's Institute
Smisby WI was founded in 1934 and we celebrated our 80th anniversary in 2015. A short history is available via the history page. The national WI organisation celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2015. Smisby is a member of the Derbyshire Federation, and the DFWI celebrated its centenary in 2018.
Smisby WI are a very friendly institute and meet on the third Thursday in the month in Smisby village hall.
Currently membership has risen to 60, so at the moment new membership is restricted to Smisby residents. We have a varied programme with a speaker at most meetings.
Christmas lunch at the golf club 13/12/23
We had a superb lunch at the Golf Club on Tuesday. The tables were decorated beautifully, the black table clothes really made a statement as you walked into the dining area. The food and the service was certainly excellent. Members appreciated the tasty starters, well cooked vegetables and meat, the bread and cranberry sauces and the excellent puddings. The only negative I heard from a few, was a plea for sprouts next year!
Thanks Lynn P. for the two quizzes which kept us guessing, well done to those who won the boxes of chocolates. Thanks to Julie who read out the poem "I'm fine thank you" ; yes, we can all relate to some of the lines that Julie so beautifully read. Then it was our resident pocket rocket (Jane M.) who led us in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" a must to end our Christmas Lunch and the end of another WI year.
Thank you, Jean, for once again organising and liaising with the golf club.
Our Christmas party in the village hall, 7/12/23.
Thursday 7th of December was a very busy day for some of our members. In the morning we had a craft session led by Josie Renshaw, one of our talented members who showed us how to decorate a candle stick with foliage out of our gardens. With a lot of help from Josie, fifteen members had great fun decorating and making the candlesticks look truly amazing. There is a method in our madness as they were to grace our tables for the party on the evening. Once the tables were laid, it was off home to get our party frocks on.
For our Christmas party we always try to find something different to entertain us, this year the Peter and Iris “After Eight Quartet” were booked for the evening. Peter introduced themselves as the After Eight Quartet as they only sang after eight. That was a joke of course, and it set the tone for a superb evening of singing and a couple of jokes in between, especially the parrot one. Their repertoire was so diverse with Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, The Beech Boys, On Ilkley Moor bar t’At and the wonderful sacred Christmas carol sung in Latin, “Gaudete” meaning rejoice. Overall, a truly superb night of entertainment with Peter, Iris, Christine & Ben.
The members once again supplied a superb buffet to enjoy, accompanied by mulled wine and low alcohol drinks, a great night enjoyed by everyone a lovely finish to 2023.
Belvoir Castle November 2023
The subject always comes up at one of our committee meetings about where to go for our Christmas outing.
After much discussion one of the members suggested Belvoir Castle to see the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. This is one of our best loved Christmas carols, which we as a WI always sing to conclude our Christmas lunch, at the Golf Club in December. So, it was up to Jean, our outings coordinator to wave her magic wand and sprinkle the fairy dust and get us booked on this magical tour of the castle.
Tuesday 21st of November was a bit overcast, we had all prayed for it not to rain, and it worked. It was a bright cool day as we started off on our journey with the weather getting better by the hour, as that’s how long it took us to get there.
Approaching Belvoir Castle, it looked resplendent perched on a hill in the middle of an otherwise flat Leicestershire landscape. Walking in through the front door a row of Christmas trees guided us to the hall where we were greeted by a beautifully decorated tree and a very welcome blazing open fire. This certainly set the trend for the displays that we were to see in twelve beautifully decorated rooms in the castle. As we walked through the rooms, we were travelling through a living storybook blending the magic of Christmas present with Christmas past. Thank you to all those at Belvoir for the superb displays everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time with you, the problem is where will we go next year!
Pat and Suzanne made the poppy display on the front lawn of the village hall and finished just before it started to rain. The purple Poppies are to remember the horses that were used in the First World war, and the White Poppies signify Peace".
Coffee Morning on 26th October 2023 to support this year’s local Charity
What a fabulous morning we had yesterday in aid of the local Parkinson Charity group, suggested by Delia. The weather was dire, so we never expected such a wonderful turn out.
The counter in the kitchen was heaving with cakes so kindly donated by members, and the bag, scarf, jewellery and raffle plus other donated items to sell were doing a roaring trade.
There was standing room only in the hall, with more people eating cake and having tea in the kitchen.
Janet our speaker told us about her journey with her husband’s Parkinsons problems, whowas a Detective Superintendent in the Leicestershire Police force, and the tips and information she gave out I know will have been of some help to some people present.
A BIG thank you to Chris Newman for her unstinting time in the kitchen, Chris you are a star! Thanks to the people who came early and helped to set up the room, and to those who helped at the end. Thanks to the people who donated cakes, scones, sausage rolls, etc and to everyone who came and gave money for a very worthy local cause.
Thank you to everyone who came and supported the coffee morning, please if you see any of your friends who came tell them how much money we raised, and thank them.
Sonia our resident photographer did a sterling job introducing Janet and giving the vote of thanks and even had time to take photographs.
I have saved the best till last we raised the magnificent total of £712.
Canal trip 28th September 2023
Summer Outing 27 July 2023
Broadway and Sezincote House in the glories Cotswolds was the chosen destination for our 2023 summer outing.
The day dawned bright and clear although the forecast was rain so we dressed for all eventualities with umbrellas at the ready.
After a very pleasant journey to Broadway, it was time to have a look round this iconic Cotswold town with its wide thorough fare and beautiful town houses and shops lining the road. It has many tea rooms and antique shops as well as the Gorden Russell Museum and the famous Lygon Arms Hotel which was known for its association with the arts and crafts movement.
Three hours gave us enough time to meander around the shops enjoy a coffee and cake and lunch before finding our way back to the coach for our journey to Sezincote House where a guided tour had been booked.
Sezincote House is a Mughal Indian Palace set in the Cotswold Hills created by nabob Charles Cockerell in 1805. The house is surmounted by a copper dome and minarets and is set in a picturesque water garden with pools waterfalls, a grotto, temple, Persian Garden and a curving Orangery where afternoon tea is served.
Our party was divided into two so whilst one group was being shown around the house the other members could visit the garden which was so beautiful, we really needed more time to appreciate its beauty.
The Guided tour of the house was excellent with a very knowledgeable guide, as the house is lived in by the family we were limited to a few rooms, but a lovely cup of tea and excellent cake in the Orangery made up for the lack of rooms to see.
The weather was very kind to us just the right temperature we didn't need our umbrellas, no one got lost and we all arrived safely back at Smisby. The feedback from members was superb they all enjoyed the day; thanks go to our outing's organiser Jean and for ordering the perfect weather.
Gill Thomas visiting the St Helen's Heritage Centre
Dr Gareth Evans, in the persona of Charles II, gave a fascinating description of HRH Charles II's life. This history dovetailed into Nell Gwynne's recollections, which we heard in March.What a wonderful way to learn about our history! Dr Gareth Williams told us about King Charles early life as a young boy, the civil war, the political situation with Europe, his conquests with the ladies of the court, and his interest in science and the many Royal Societies he founded.
Nell Gwynne visits Smisby, 30 March 2023
Making an eagerly awaited, return visit to Smisby, Lesley Smith presented Nell Gwynn’s story. The village hall was packed, as nearly every member came to see another brilliant performance by Lesley, who is a local historian, specialist in Tudor medicine and curator of Tutbury castle. Members provided a wide variety of refreshments and so a delicious supper was also enjoyed. Lesley also gave members the opportunity to learn about the authentic clothing which she wore. Everyone had a highly entertaining and very enjoyable evening.
After learning about Nell, mistress of Charles II, we are now looking forward to the visit by Lesley’s husband Dr Gareth Edwards, who will describe the kings life history as part of our Coronation celebrations for Charles III.
A night with the stars. 14th March 2023
Christmas 2023 Activities
Remembrance Day Display
Members decorated a tree at the village hall ready for Remembrance Day
Loughborough Canal Trip October 2022
Our speaker for the month of April 2022 was Tim Marren CEO of the Peter le Marchant Trust who told us about the charity who help by providing days and holidays for those of any age with a disability or serious illness on narrow boats owned by the charity. The talk Tim gave told us how the charity came about and the work they do, when one of our members asked if we could go on the boats, Tim said yes of course so that is how we came to have a wonderful day on the Loughborough Canal and the River Soar.
Two boats were booked, one to go to Mount Sorrel, the other to Normanton on Soar, both stopping at the local pub for lunch.
The boats only took twenty people each and the places were quickly filled, but due to illness and covid we were down to seventeen on one boat and eighteen on the other.
The weather could not have been better, beautiful blue sky gloriously warm for October, and with the trees along the banks turning a beautiful gold and red. Everyone enjoyed the day and the food at the two pubs, the helpers on the boats could not do enough for us, so we will be booking again for next year, and let's hope that the weather is just as good as this year.
Kew Gardens. Saturday 6th August 2022.
An early 7.30am start was made from Smisby village hall, with forty-one extremely excited members and husbands to board the coach for a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in West London. Kew is a world renown botanical gardens of over 500 acres of woodland, including the Temperate House, Palm House, Princess of Wales Conservatory, and many more attractions.
Arriving at 11. 0clock and departing at 5.p.m, we felt that we had plenty of time to walk to the various sites around the gardens, so we thought. As soon as we got off the coach everyone went their own way, but we did occasionally meet up. The weather was now warming up so several of us decided that the best way to see the garden would be to get on the bus that takes you round the perimeter of the park, with a guide pointing out the various landmarks. All the points of interest were indicated including the Pagoda, and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, it would have been nice to walk to some of them, but time and the heat did not permit. After visiting the Princess of Wales Conservatory and seeing the giant Amazon Water lilies it was time for lunch and then off to see some more plants! There is so much to see at Kew and other people had visited many different places, including the beehive, the treetop walkway, the Marianne North art exhibition, and the Evolution garden.
Kew is an amazing place to visit and due to our limited time we could not see all of it. The exceptionally long hot spell of weather had made the grass was very brown, and some plants and trees were suffering from lack of water. Only one flower bed area seemed to have been regularly watered.
Overall we all had fantastic day out. We all agreed that we needed more time, since you cannot possible see all of Kew in one day so perhaps we may go again another year, perhaps in the spring when the Cherry Blossom and bulbs are out.
Our Jubilee Celebration, Sunday June 12th 2-4.p.m.
What to do for the Queens Jubilee celebration for our members? We knew that there were several street parties being organized by the surrounding villages which our members would go to. So not to interrupt local community celebrations, we decided to hold our celebrations a week later.
Next, what to do, have a speaker or play games? A speaker was the voted option, but who? The Baroness of Bolsover was recommended by a local WI, so she was invited to our afternoon tea; appropriate as her talk was “Afternoon Tea Etiquette”.
Village decorations were made. Then finger sandwiches, cakes and savory items were prepared for the afternoon tea and the tables laid beautifully decorated with flowers and menus. Buck's fizz or Pimms were served on arrival and after the talk a cup of refreshing tea with the delicious food.
The Baroness did not disappoint, she told us the Victorians were the first to start the afternoon tea tradition. Finger sandwiches were only the size of a finger and to be nibbled, Battenburg cake was always served which was named after Queen Victoria’s beloved Alfred, and tea always served in a beautiful China cup. We of course had all three items for the members to enjoy and members were able to practice their tea party etiquette.
It was a superb afternoon, in the hall which had been beautifully decorated by the village hall committee and all members wore their best frocks and hats. Click on photos to enlarge.
Loughborough Bell Foundry Visit, April 2022
On Thursday 28th April twenty-eight members which included husbands made a very enjoyable visit to the John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough.
From 1784 members of the Taylor family operated the business, and in 1839 it moved to Loughborough on condition that they recast the parish church bells. The factory moved to its present site in 1859 and is now proud to operate the largest bell foundry in the world and the only remaining bell foundry in the UK.
After a short video on the history of the foundry we had a guided tour of the workshops. The foundry is famous for making the Great Paul Bell which took eleven days to transport to St Paul's Cathedral in London were it still hangs today. Bells from the foundry go all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand, and the USA.
Carillons and Chimes, with many European and American customers, were extensively developed by Taylors. Their pioneering, innovative design and tuning has perfected the modern Carillion.
A fascinating tour with two knowledgeable guides which made the visit worthwhile.
Lockdown Activities Wall Hanging
Smisby members, and all WI members up and down the country, have memories of the covid 19 pandemic and the effects of the lockdown on society. Now that we at Smisby WI are meeting in person and arranging outing, our President Julie felt that we should remember that lockdown time. Members were asked to portray what they did during all those months without meeting fellow members.
Special March 2022 Meeting: Sex and the Tudors, Lesley Smith
Smisby members have thoroughtly enjoyed several talks given by Lesley Smith, including a visit to Tutbury Castle. So the committee decided, as a special treat for members, that we would invite her back to talk about “Sex and the Tudors.”
This additional meeting was possible at no cost to members as a result of our very successful fund raising ventures and also support from the village Parochial Charity.
Forty-two members enjoyed a hilarious evening. We had an hour of history sprinkled with anecdotes, laughter all the way and a superb evening and supper all washed down with Buck’s Fizz.
Many thanks to Lesley Smith for another brilliant performance and thanks to the committee for organising this treat.
Christmas Lunch at Willesley Golf Club
Thirty-one members enjoyed an excellent Christmas lunch at Willesley Golf Club on 16 December 2021. Jean and Barbara had arranged the table seating, to make the catering service easier. After the meal we had a quiz put together by Lin P, followed by two Christmas songs with Julie as the conductor, and we finished with "The Twelve days of Christmas"; actions ably demonstrated by Jane M. Thanks to the Golf Club for once again making us feel very welcome
The next event will be Crafts on the 6th of January so look out for the details.
Happy Christmas to you all.
Christmas Party 2021
Thirty-seven members attended the Christmas party on the 9 th of December 2021, which was held in the village hall. We were welcomed with mulled wine. and entertained by the Roots Community choir, with music, singing and poetry.
The choir was under the guidance of their musical director Willow. Three of our WI members President Julie Cooper, Jane Mack and Jane Reynolds are in the Choir which added to the interest! The twenty strong choir sang some beautiful carols as well as folk songs. They were accompanied by the director on guitar and keyboard, two members playing fiddles, another on a flute and Jane with her ukulele. Barbara gave the vote of thanks, and we were asked to put our hands together to give a very appreciated clap for the Roots Community Choir.
After the entertainment, members and the choir enjoyed a supper of sandwiches, assorted wraps, profiteroles, mince pies and macaroons. The tables were beautifully decorated with the lanterns made by the crafters in the morning. Also the village hall decorations and Christmas lights made it feel very festive. Supper was followed by a free raffle, with each member being given a ticket and many members left with a super prize.
DFWI Show 2021 result
Margaret Boyd and Marie entered art into the DFWI “Fruits of the Earth” show, encouraged by Suzanne. This show replaced the normal WI competitive classes at both the Derbyshire County Show and the Bakewell show for this year.
The show was held in October at the DFWI headquarters in Sherwin Street, Derby. Marie was delighted to win the "Harvest mouse in watercolour" class and Margaret came second. Marie also entered and won the acrylic painting competition with the theme of “Fungi” and the photographic class with the theme "Preserves”.
Tea Gowns and Tea Time with the History Wardrobe.
After a long postponement, due to Covid resrtrictions, Smisby WI finally welcomed Lucy Adlington from the History Wardrobe to afternoon tea.
Julie, the Chairman, welcomed the 44 Smisby WI members and 30 guests from neighbouring WIs. They all enjoyed the scrumptious tea provided by the WI committee under the direction of Secretary, Suzanne. Menus for each table had been designed and made by Hazel.
Lucy, owner of History Wardrobe, specialises in dress history, with a particular interest in Edwardiana and the 1940s. She gave a very amusing, expert and entertaining talk about 1940's ladies fashions.
She is also an author and was very excited to tell members that her latest book, "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz", had made it onto the New York Times best sellers list. Information about her other presentations and books can be found on the History wardrobe web site.
Some pictures of the events can be seen below
Owls at Rosliston Thursday 23rd September 2021
What an experience we had with the Owls at the Rosliston ARD Birds of prey.
Alice who has worked at the centre with the owls for many years and has now taken over the running of the business gave a wonderful display with owls flying across the room. We were allowed to have the owls on our gloved hands, hold the owls and even touch and stroke them.
Alices's father talked for the whole two hours telling us everything about the birds we were holding where they came from, their habitats, how they can hear a mouse's heartbeat, so much information!
A wonderful night and I'm sure we all ended the night a bit wiser about owls.
Tutbury Castle meeting Mary, Queen of Scots
On 4th September, thirty-four members met Mary Queen of Scots at Tutbury Castle, aka Lesley Smith. What a fantastic afternoon it was!
The surroundings of the castle and hall where we sat, plus the talk about Mary's childhood, marriages, and ultimate be-heading had us all riveted to our seats. Lesley's talk transported us back to the time of Mary's often tragic life, not a sound was heard until the applause at the end.
Because everyone who attended enjoyed the afternoon so much the committee are looking at inviting Lesley back to Smisby to do another one of her characters in the New Year, and later we will pay another visit to the castle.
85th Birthday Celebrations Thursday 15th July 2021.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic we like others were unable to celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and to have a family wake for loved ones who had passed away. This also applied to our 85th birthday celebrations which we would have had in July last year.
Lesley Smith the Chatelain of Tutbury Castle and historian was booked to give a talk on Peggy Knight a WW11 SOE spy in 2020. Lesley appreciated that everything had to be cancelled so with a heavy heart we decided to re-arrange the party for 2021 and hoped that it would be able to go ahead.
Restrictions were starting to be relaxed with more people being able to meet indoors as well as outdoors, the date was fixed, food arranged emails sent out and thirty-three members enjoyed a fantastic night with Lesley as Peggy Knight.
The evening started with Pimm’s or Bucks Fizz, and then Julie introduced our speaker for the evening.
Lesley, dressed in a green suite, snood and curled hair told us about the life of Peggy, who was born in Paris to a Polish mother and French father. Her first language was French and then English. The family moved to England where she worked for the Asea Electric Company as a shorthand typist. In the early spring of 1944, she was in a café and was overheard speaking French, she was immediately recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She was rushed through a two-week training course, during which she did one practise parachute jump from a static balloon and was then sent behind enemy lines in Vichy France to establish herself as a secret British courier with code name of Nicole. She crossed back and forth between battle lines several times carrying intelligence messages and information. She also participated directly in an attack by the French resistance upon a German military convoy. Peggy narrowly escaped capture and execution later in 1944 when she and a group of resistance fighters were betrayed by one of their number to the Nazis.
After the war for her wartime activities Peggy was awarded many British, French, and American honours, including and OBE the Croix de Guerre and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by the United States.
During the talk you could have heard a pin drop we were all so wrapped up in Peggy’s story, Lesley was emotional as was many of our members, a fabulous talk, finishing by singing happy birthday to ourselves and enjoyed sandwiches, and cupcakes that were made especially for our birthday.
A superb birthday meeting with many requests to have Lesley back to give another talk one day.