Smisby Village

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 various locations.

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.

 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. 




SMISBY WI AGM & Resolution Meeting

Held on July 1st, 2021, at Smisby Village Hall at 7.15. p.m.


Julie our President opened the meeting by welcoming nineteen members to the AGM and introducing Kirsty and Ann from the Bank House Community Hub based in Swadlincote. Bank House in run in partnership with South Derbyshire Mental Health Association and support a wide range of people who come for help with filling in Benefit forms, support then with appeals and tribunals, housing issues, liaising with energy suppliers, find the service users jobs, College placements, and the support of just being able to talk to someone.
Kirsty and Ann where so enthusiastic about their rolls within the organisation that we all decided to ask them back again and hoped we would be able to offer Bank House more help in the future.
After their talk Julie presented Kirsty and Ann with a cheque for £418 which was raised at our coffee morning on Monday the 31st of May.
We then proceeded with our AGM all the committee wanted to continue, Julie as our President, Suzanne Secretary, and Muriel Treasurer.
We now come to the resolution which had been put forward by Kathy Heathcote a WI member from Hampshire who lost her daughter-in-law to ovarian cancer. After members watched a superb video outlining the for and against supporting the resolution, we at Smisby voted to support the resolution to make women aware of the signs and early detection of ovarian cancer.

The meeting finished with coffee and biscuits, not our usual cheese and wine. 




June 2021 Report

Like many WIs, Smisby has embraced zoom to enable us to keep in touch with members. Every month we had two evening guest speakers and twice a month a coffee/craft morning. Invitations were sent out to local WI’s to log onto the evening talks, and they were well supported.

At one of the coffee mornings, it was suggested we crochet, knit, paint sunflowers to attach to trees in the local woods surrounding Smisby. After a long discussion Julie our President suggested we put them on the railings around the village hall, make a feature of it and have a coffee morning to raise money for a charity. Several dates were made but had to be pushed back for covid reasons, members were busy making Sunflowers of all descriptions to decorate the railings with over one hundred and fifty made.  Three of our members are Trustees of the village Hall and as we have complied with all covid safe regulations we could allow people into the hall and treat it as if they were entering a restaurant, contact numbers taken and face masks had to be worn until they sat down where they were served by members.

May 31st Spring Bank holiday Monday, a glorious day, cakes were made coffee and tea at the ready, book stall, plants, and bric-a-brac sold outside everyone felt really pleased to be part of the community and doing something “normal”. £418 was raised for a local mental health charity which will be presented at our AGM in the village hall. It was time to take down the display but not before taking a picture of several of our ladies with some of the sunflowers made for the occasion. Click on image below to enlarge.

Special Report May 2021

At last things seem to be progressing well with the Covid vaccine roll out with many of our members having had their second jab.

The Trustees at the village hall have worked extremely hard getting the hall deep cleaned and putting in the signage and the covid cleaning schedules to comply with government legislation. That means that as a WI we can meet in the village hall in groups of six with no more than thirty people at any one time.

At our first face to face committee meeting many decisions were made and dates planned.
The walking group has gone from strength to strength, and it was decided that we would now have two walks a month, the second Thursday of the month will be a 4-5 mile walk still calling ourselves the Striders, and on the 4th Tuesday of the month it will be for members who can only walk 2-3 miles and they will be the strollers. All dates and walks plus not forgetting where we will be having lunch will be sent to members via email and advertised on the notice board.
Some of the Tuesday dates may vary as we have booked some outside activities, Stone carving and Wood Turning plus we are looking at a day at making a willow basket.

Our first meeting in the village hall will take place on Thursday 20th of May the speaker Ian Reston giving a talk on The Pennine Way, all guidelines will be followed, if the restrictions are lifted in June we will have a “normal meeting” with a speaker on June 24th.

We are coming up to the Spring Bank holiday, Monday May 31st and our crafters have been remarkably busy making Sunflowers out of various mediums to decorate the village hall railings. We will also be serving coffee/tea and homemade cake in the hall, outside there will be a bookstall, brick-a-brack table, plus a plant stall and raffle, with all money going to a local Mental Health Charity. The weather looks promising, so we hope for a good turnout of local people.

Our 2021 AGM and Resolutions meeting will be on Thursday 1st of July in the village hall lets hope for a good attendance.


The craft mornings will start again on Thursday 3rd of June with Jane Reynolds and “paper crafts”. Julie and Jane have put together an exciting number of different crafts for us try in the coming year so look out for the dates and the crafts on offer.


The committee would like to take the opportunity to thank all the members who have once again paid their membership and shown their commitment to Smisby WI, four members have left for various reasons, but we have filled the places with four new members who had been on the waiting list.


Special Report January 2021

January 2021 and another lockdown has been brought in that means we are unable to have our planned meetings for at least four months. We have therefore decided that we will have two coffee morning meetings on a Thursday and a zoom meeting in the evening with a speaker.

Our coffee mornings before Christmas went down very well, we were all a bit hesitant at first in getting on to zoom but we seem to be old hands at it know.

It was decided to try to do some crafts via zoom and having never done anything like this before it was all a bit strange, but we got there in the end and achieved some exceptionally good results.

In October Suzanne showed us how to make paper poppies which most of the members who had the packs (which we had got ready as we thought we would be in the village Hall for a craft morning) completed and sent in photographs of their achievements.  

November, Dorothy kindly showed us how to make paper rose, everyone making an incredibly good attempt at them and of course many photographs were sent in to show how well they had done. December was our Presidents turn, and Julie showed us how to make paper book Angels and a Christmas Trees. It is something new to demonstrate via zoom, but we got there in the end.

No Christmas parties last year or a meal out at the Golf Club how we have missed them and the friendship that goes with meeting up with fellow members. However, members had a Christmas zoom meeting.Christmas 2020 zoom

As we have said before, meetings will be via zoom, chatter and natter every other Thursday morning at 10.30.a.m.  There will be  a speaker on a Thursday night 7.p.m. for a talk amongst ourselves and the speaker will begin 7.30.p.m.

January 14th Chris Baker Historical Fiction “ The girl who sewed parachutes”.

January 21st  Carol Burnett “Deadly Weeds or beneficial beauty.”


February 4th  “Hearing dogs for the Deaf”  TBC

February 18th Wendy Freer “A step on the Ladder”


March 4th  Barbara Lawson-Reay “Founders of the WI”

March 18th Rachel Lundy “Cycling across America with eight Strangers”

We have not planned anything for April, just hoping we have all had our injections and are out of lockdown.





Smisby WI meetings are usually held on the third Thursday of the month, 7.00 pm for 7.15 pm prompt start. The 2020 programme is now available on the programme page and has details of some new events.reports about past activities can be found on the Past events page.



All meetings normally in Smisby Village Hall, Main Street LE65 2TY at 7pm for a 7.15pm start.  In addition, monthly craft sessions and walks are organised on the first and second Thursday of each month respectively. There is also weekly canasta/card games on a Wednesday afternoon and a keep fit class on Tuesday afternoons.


WI Annual Membership is £43. Refreshments are £1 per meeting.


Guests (carers exempt) maximum of 3 meetings per year


A waiting list is now in operation for new members who live outside of Smisby parish.


Secretary;  Mrs Suzanne Jones 01530 415346


We are part of the Derbyshire Federation

DFWI Headquarters

“Derbyshire House”, Sherwin Street,

Derby, DE22 1GP

Telephone 01332 342596


Special Report September 2020

The last paragraph of the annual report said we are looking forward to resuming our meetings in the village hall in September, although at a very reduced capacity due to government guidelines.
On the 6th of September we had a committee meeting to arrange meetings for the rest of the year, a day later it was all change, we would not be able to use the village hall once again due to restrictions.
We had already arranged at BBQ on the 10th September which could go ahead as it was outside. We were due to have the AGM on the 17th September, but it was hastily rearranged to the night of the BBQ as Jean our President wished to retire and Julie agreed to take on the position of President.
The BBQ at the Trough Café at Grangewood, was attended by twenty-two members and several husbands. The AGM went ahead as all information was sent out to all members via email, Jean was thanked for her time as President and Julie presented her with an English Lavender plant for her garden.
We have, as reported in the Annual Report, kept up with the walks twice a week Tuesday’s and Thursday. They have been very well attended as you can see from the many photographs that have been taken.
Last May, eight of us were due to go on a stone carving workshop we eventually managed to attend on the 9th of September, and you can see from the finished carving we are quite a talented bunch. Nine members and two husbands thoroughly enjoyed Croquet at Moira it was another outdoor pursuit and we concluded with lunch at the YHA Moira. The next venture will be “football golf” at Coalville, it sounds fun and once again outside for all to enjoy. The next workshop will be wood turning in November at Greenwood Days Staunton Harold. Peter Wood the tutor will be taking two classes and we will hopefully be coming away with a three-legged stool. Look out for the photographs.
Zoom will be our next adventure, as some of our members already use it for Pilates or Keep Fit. I am sure we will have an audience and try to keep our members interested with the many zoom speakers we have managed to obtain.
Will we be able to meet as a group very soon? we doubt it, it looks like our Christmas meal and party has been canceled, so we must make the most of
the technology that is now part of our daily life, meet for walks and hopefully finish with lunch at a local restaurant.




Visit to Sharpe’s Pottery Museum and the Magic Attic: 27 Feb 2020


Twenty-three members and two husbands had a very enjoyable afternoon at the Museum in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire.


The museum contains items of pottery that had been made in the local area over thee past 150 years when Swadlincote was at the heart of the pipe making industry. Not only was it famous for making pipes, and toilets but many local firms like T.G.Green made beautiful decorative household  items  such as  vases and table wear which were on display in the museum.


The Magic Attic was also open for us to look around the archives that were stored there dating back to the early 19th century. The guides were very knowledgeable and helpful, and it was amazing the amount of information that had been gatherers about the local area.

An hour really was not long enough in the museum, but the afternoon tea booked for 3.p.m was ready to be served.  Members loved the exhibition by Ashby Camera Club, which  was being held in the cafe. Everyone agreed the sandwiches and cakes were excellent, Roberto the owner and his staff could not be more accommodating, a very good afternoon well supported by the members and several said they would be returning for a longer visit.sharps tea










Smisby WI visit to Elford Community Gardens June 2013