Dear Pat and all of our Sandon WI friends,


Thank you for your Easter greetings which we send to you also.  I passed on the Sandon message to my members, which is enclosed in a beautiful lavender shaded card with a floral design not often seen on stationery – Canterbury bells. Different and lovely! Thanks too for that very nice centenary magazine presented by Essex Federation, a piece of history from your own area. I know our ladies will be pleased to see aspects of Institute life similar to ours, from a great distance.


I have recently looked through a book published in recent times in England, Jambusters, by Julie Summers, and names I saw there are of course those names from our history of those early days of formation, during WWI. I was quite intrigued when I saw the name of the Welsh village where the Women’s Institute was formed, Llanfairpwll? for short. I have the long version too but won’t type it today as I may fall asleep while doing so!


Last month I mentioned the twin misfortunes New Zealand had suffered, beached whales and bush fires. Another worrying disaster has befallen us since, many areas have suffered the tail lash of cyclone Debbie, bringing flooding to many areas, homes and businesses have been made inhabitable, and some people won’t get home for a while, not only are their houses sodden, even if they weren’t, power and sewerage services are nonexistent. This cyclone struck Queensland and more northern parts, also off shore islands, with much damage done everywhere, including loss of life.


You have probably heard about it from your National news. We here have not suffered damage, but the rain has been prolonged and very heavy, with strong gales in parts of the country.


You too have had a dreadful disaster in London with a terrorist attack on people. What with global warming and those horrible Isis terrorists, etc, the world is much less the place of hope and peace that we knew in the late 40’s and 50’s, when we were young and able to enjoy life without the complications of today’s world.


Last month, I had been concerned about our Federation’s future, and who would step up to take positions at the April AGM. Helen Dunlop who has been on Federation in the past, has become President, and as we have nine Institutes within the Federation, a member from each has stepped forward to be on executive committee. The AGM was a most successful day, with a robust nine members, and President, committed. It was very satisfying to see how positive everyone was, and with the National President, Kaye Hart, visiting for the day, the air of optimism and the pleasure of being together made it a happy occasion. Milson members were so happy that our hard working treasurer, Sylvia Claridge, was awarded a Good Service Badge, it was lovely to see the surprise and pleasure on Sylvia’s face. She is so deserving of the honour.


Bev’s daughter is a Law Associate and also a Justice of the Peace, so was asked to come and tell us something of what is involved in being a J.P., which she did; we learned she is a judicial J.P. which means her duties sometimes take her onto the bench in a court of law.


All the business went through without a hitch, and in the afternoon a group of older entertainers with ukuleles, played many songs we knew, so that was all very jolly too. They call themselves The Strum-petts, and dress up in Steam Punk regalia, Victorian style, with decorations somehow connected with steam engines! Not sure if it is widespread, or peculiar to N.Z., but there is a very strong club of Steam Punk people in the southern town of Oamaru. Perhaps it originated there.


Bev Williams meantime, is staying on as Milson’s President. She tires easily, as I’ve mentioned, but seems comfortable to stay with her position just now, so we are happy if she is.


I must mention that when those two popular TV personalities, Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer presented their programme on TV this week, they were in Essex to find homes for two couples – we saw many scenes of your very lovely County, and the two towns concerned were Chelmsford, and Southend-on-Sea. Really most enjoyable, and they brought me closer to you for an hour.


Happy Easter to everyone, from your friends of Milson WI,

& Pauline