The Catton Women’s Institute

Just in time to note the Catton WI’s Christmas Party this evening, Melanie Pepper sends this lovely piece describing the group’s activities in Catton and around the houses:

“Catton WI is a thriving group, part of the Northumberland Federation of WIs. We meet monthly on the 2nd Monday at 7.15pm in Catton Village Hall. 

Our meetings cover a diverse range of subjects. We often have outside speakers, although some meetings are run as members’ nights by one of our own. Some of our recent highlights have been a “Fungal Foray” talk by Gordon Beakes, and a fascinating insight into the life of Gertrude Bell by Anthony Atkinson. In January we had a fantastic member’s night organised by Jane Hale, celebrating 100 years of the WI. Jane took us on a journey through each decade, highlighting important events for the WI, and reminding us of the clothes, music, and important happenings of each decade. Our annual Christmas party is very popular with the members, including a delicious cold turkey buffet, and the now legendary puddings from Margaret Robinson and Sarah Jackson.

As well as our monthly meetings, we often have an outing in the summer. This year we visited Dalemain House, near Ullswater, for a fascinating tour and a wonderful lunch. Our July meeting is usually an outing, this time it was to Inspired Pots in Hexham for some crafting, followed by an Italian meal. In January we also have our belated Christmas meal out – yes, it does seem to be that a lot of our favourite activities focus on eating!

We also like to be able to support community events, providing the teas for the Catton Summer and Christmas Fairs, and recently we had a stall at the Allendale Mini-Market to promote the WI in general, ourselves, and sell some items handmade by our members.

Each year WIs across the country are able to prepare a resolution which is voted on at the National Federation of WIs Annual Meeting. Those accepted become WI campaigns. At Catton WI we have always been active in supporting and promoting these resolutions and campaigns. Our most prominent ones of recent years have been “SOS for honeybees” and “Plastic soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our oceans”. Catton WI’s members raised funds for two planters in Catton, which we maintain on a rota basis. These planters are full of bee friendly flowers and plants, which we hope contribute in a small way to enhancing the local bee population. As for plastic soup, we took the campaign a little further and focused on trying to help people understand how to reduce single use plastic. At Allendale Agricultual Show in 2018 our model “Mr Plastico” was made of a wide variety of single use plastics in current use, and our stand showed a range of alternatives to some of these products. After the show, Mr Plastico had some minor surgery and became Mrs Plastico, and she went off on a journey around Northumberland to further highlight the issue.

We are a friendly bunch, and would be delighted to welcome new members. If you’d like further information or want to join, please contact Correspondence Secretary Mel Pepper at mellyjp25@gmail.com, or on 07740 359122.”

Thanks Mel for a lovely entry to the diary, and I hope your WI Christmas Party this evening is great fun! We’ve mentioned the other three Women’s Institute groups in the Allen Valleys in the diary, in passing: Allendale’s WI meets at the King’s Head on the first Monday, I believe, and Langley and Whitfield’s WIs are crucial components of the community taking care of their respective village halls.

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