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September report

The meeting on Wednesday 11th  September was chaired by our President, Sarah Pennington, who welcomed everyone to the meeting including two guests. On behalf of the members Mary Pollock thanked the Committee for the lovely evening Party everyone had enjoyed in August.

It was decided that the ‘W.I.Extra’ get together for September would be the following Wednesday at Gilberts where the Dahlias should still be in full bloom. Forthcoming events announced included the Group Meeting to be hosted by the Sisterhood which was to be held at our Village Hall on 16th October when Natalie Ellison will tell us ‘All About Makaton’. Everyone was encouraged to come to this as it should prove a very interesting insight into sign language and its uses. Group Skittles will take place earlier in the month on 2nd October at Mottisfont Social Club and our team are looking forward to competing! Sue Rickets was able to report that the work on the programme for 2020 was well advanced and it was hoped to include an open meeting during the course of the year.

Sarah then introduced our speaker for the evening, David Stocks, who gave us a really brilliant talk on the life and work of Beatrix Potter, really making her come alive for us. He gave details of her affluent early life in South Kensington and her relationship with her family, governess and the friends who had influenced her particularly the Rev. William Gaskell. He explained that her love of animals (she had many unusual pets including a hedgehog) and her love of art led to the animal drawings for which she is famous. He also described her difficulty, when she started writing, in getting the first story of Peter Rabbit published. In this she was helped by one of the publishers, Norman Warne, to whom she eventually became engaged. Unfortunately, Norman died a month later and Beatrice was devastated and decided to move to the Lake District, where she had often stayed on holiday, and started farming.

David had worked as a volunteer at Hilltop Farm which is now owned by the National Trust and was able to give a real insight into her life while she was there and described her interest in the rural life of the Hawkshead area. After a while Beatrix married a local solicitor, William Heelis and with his help she increased her acreage to over four thousand including the Tarn Howes area. She always welcomed organisations like the Girl Guides to camp and others to ramble on her land and when she died she left her estate to the National Trust. A really wonderful legacy!

The next meeting of the Institute will be on Wednesday October 9th in the Village Hall starting at 7.30 p.m. This will be a talk entitled “Contradictions and Surprises, Edward Degas” by Rupert Beswarwick-Asser. Guests are always welcome at these meetings and if you would like more information on these or our Branch do phone Linda Aucock on 01794 388542.

Eileen Reynolds


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