Simon Michael was our speaker in October. He was a barrister for 37 years, working in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts, defending and prosecuting murderers, armed robbers and other assorted villains in the 1960s. This was a time when the Krays, Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for the control of London’s organised crime. Simon told us that after he retired he used these real events to write crime novels into which he weaved genuine courts documents from cases on which he worked.
In September WI Member, Ann Judge, gave us a fascinating talk on the history of the proposed Knebworth garden village development in the early 20th century. She showed us old photos of the village when the High Street was just a lane with horses and carts and we also heard oral history tapes of long standing local residents reminiscing on their life in the village over 70 year ago.
We said a fond farewell to Carole Woodman who has been a Knebworth WI member since 1990. She has been our President and for many years our Treasurer and has worked tirelessly on committee. Carole and David are moving to Cornwall and we wish them every happiness in their new home. They will be very much missed by Knebworth WI and indeed by the whole village.
In August we found out what it takes to design and construct a Chelsea Flower Show garden. Manoj Maide explained how he travelled the world to source his spiky arid loving plants for his Mexican themed garden which was made colourful with paint; space and shape was defined by the walls and platforms of concrete. Manoj finished his presentation by showing a speeded up film of the construction work from start to finish.
We sold plants for Waste Not Want Not and our Miniature Garden Competition was very popular.
We had fun with our July speaker, Holistic Therapist, Maggie Lines, when she gave us a humorous talk on what our faces say about us. Lots of laughter when we did our facial exercises!
In 2012 Knebworth WI started to cultivate the small area at the base of the three village gateway signs and since then our ladies have supplied, weeded and watered the plants. The first year, the planting was appropriately in red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics. Now, with the help of funding from the Knebworth Village Trust, Hal Fowler from Waste Not Want Not has made some wooden planters and has supplied very healthy plants which ladies from the WI have planted out and will continue to maintain.
A fun evening for Knebworth WI when Paul L Martin came along to talk about his life as a travelling showman. He is a comic, singer, drag queen, compere and recently a judge on BBC1’s All Together Now.
Paul also brought along Mabel – his pink ukulele !
Our Annual Meeting in May started with a fish and chip supper before we got on with the business of the meeting; reports reviewing the year; election of the committee and Linda was voted in as President for a third year. A display of the arts and crafts of our talented ladies was on show and we ended the evening with a well earned cuppa while watching a slide show of our activities over the past year.
Knebworth WI delivered cakes, all homemade by our lovely ladies, to Letchworth Garden House Hospice. Patients and visitors will now have lots of treats with their Easter afternoon tea. https://www.ghhospicecare.org.uk
In March we had our annual party and this year we were celebrating 100 years of the Women’s Institutes in Hertfordshire (there are currently 84!). Our ladies love the chance to dress up and that night was no exception. Suffragrettes in their long skirts and blouses and sashes for votes for women could be seen making their way to the Village Hall! We were entertained by the 4String Ukulele Band who played all kinds of party music from Beatles to Kylie with the ladies helping out with the choruses! Our members provided a delicious buffet and our guests from Codicote, Datchworth, Mardley Heath & Ayots & Welwyn WIs very much enjoyed their visit to Knebworth. A thank you was given to the three Girl Guides who helped wash up at the end of the evening and for this we were delighted to give them a donation towards their fundraising events.
Andy Gibb from the British Schools Museum gave us a talk on Joseph Lancaster, a poor boy from the slums of Southwark, who brought schooling within the reach of millions of children around the world. The Lancasterian schoolroom at the British Schools Museum in Hitchin is the last remaining in the world.