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MERTHYR MAWR WOMEN'S INSTITUTE

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Meet at 7.00 pm on first Wednesday of every month in the Ewenny and Corntown Village Hall.

In Britain, the Women's Institute (WI) was officially founded in Llanfairpwll, Anglesey, on 16th September, 1915.  Merthyr Mawr WI was founded in 1930 and the first president was Mrs. Jenny McClaggan of Merthyr Mawr House whose daughter and granddaughter also held this office.  Meetings were held in Merthyr Mawr village hall for 60 years until it was decided to change the venue to Ewenny and Corntown village hall in 1990 owing to a fall in membership to just seven.  Since then, the group has thrived and grown.  Merthyr Mawr and is a member of the Glamorgan Federation of Women's Institutes (GFWI) which was established in 1923 and the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) with subscriptions divided between these two groups.  In 2008 there were changes to the structure of the individual and County groups. 

NFWI belongs to the worldwide organisation The Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) which was initiated in 1929 and subsequently known as Pennies for Friendship owing to the voluntary collection at monthly meetings for women in third world countries; by 2008 this produced 75 per cent of ACWW income. 

Members take it in turns to serve tea or coffee & biscuits.

Wide range of speakers and activities, for example:

TALKS/PRESENTATIONS:

In 2002, while working for the Anglo-European Commission in Georgia, Peter Shaw was kidnapped.  Imprisoned in a hole in the ground, he was held captive for four months before being released.  A moving account of his experiences.

Roger Sellick gave an illustrated talk entitled Follow my Drift and explained the origin of some common phrases used in everyday language.  Many of these sayings come from the occupations of a bygone age, such as not enough room to swing a cat (not enough room to use the cat-o'-nine tails, a rope whip consisting of nine knotted thongs used as a punishment aboard ship).  Another sailing saying three sheets to the wind comes from the practice of fastening a rope (known as a sheet) to the bottom of a sail which is pulled in or let out to expand the sail, or in order to change direction.  When the sheet is left free, this causes the sail to flap about with the result that the ship is not under proper control.  A sheet and sail in this condition are said to be "in the wind" and the more sails there are in the wind, the more unstable the ship, leading it to sway like a drunken sailor. 

"Mad Hatters" was the title of a talk by Margaret Roberts when she showed many creations to suit all occasions. 

Nostalgic look back at the 60s music with Mike Wilcox, illustrated with slides.

Richard Hook of the Wales Air Ambulance Service.  This service, officially launched on St. David's Day in 2001, is supported entirely by public donations.  The helicopters are based at Swansea Airport and Caernarfon Airport, providing an essential service for the whole of Wales.  The remotest parts of the country can be reached in a little over 20 minutes whereas a road ambulance may take up to an hour and have to negotiate traffic.  Additionally, patients with spinal injuries have increased chances of survival and less chance of further deterioration in condition in cases where the slightest movement caused by a bump in the road or sudden braking would be a high risk. Visit Air ambulance web site   

Jane Thorpe gave a talk entitled "On the Bench."

Early American History by Margaret Williams who illustrated her talk with a large map of the continent.  The migration of people as they began to spread through North America before and after Columbus and other explorers arrived was shown. 

Wales v Anne Robinson by Gwerfyl Gardiner who won "The Weakest Link." 

Fairtrade speakers on produce and crafts from foreign traders and the scheme which gives them a good price and security of contract.  Ceri and Ken brought along a selection which included stationery, toys and foods that members could purchase.  They also played a video of banana trading in the Windward Isles.  Many items are readily availability from supermarkets and specialist shops such as Oxfam.

DEMONSTRATIONS:

Cookery

Flower arranging by Sylvia Lewis, who has demonstrated her skills all over the world from Karachi to Germany and in a relaxed and anecdotal style created three very different arrangements based on winter foliage. 

Decorations for Christmas.

Glenda Clwyd brought along a concert harp and folk harp.  The members were entertained by a wide range of music including classical, traditional, folk, modern and ragtime, and told of the harp's origins and that it is thought to be the oldest instrument, first made 6,000 years ago in Egypt from a bow. 

GENERAL:

Quiz nights. 

St. David's Day supper.

Regional Council meetings.  The guest speaker at the meeting held in Port Talbot on 26th April, 2005 was Jamie Owen from BBC Wales News, and committee members had a very enjoyable evening.  About 750 WI ladies attended this event and Jamie handed out prizes.  Merthyr Mawr delegates received certificates to celebrate the group's 75th birthday from both the GFWI and NFWI.  The national AGM was held on 1st June, 2013 in Cardiff. 

National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) AGM. This was in Cardiff International Arena on 7th June, 2006.  At The Royal Albert Hall on 6th June, 2007 the speaker was Stuart Rose, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer

Glamorgan Federation WI (GFWI) annual council meeting held in the Pavilion, Porthcawl on 31st October, 2005. 

Celebratory events to commemorate, for example, 90th year of the WI in Britain in 2004 and 90th year in Wales in 2005. In 2013 it will be the 90th anniversary of the GFWI and plans are already being made to celebrate this event. 

WI promotion days.  In 2004 this was achieved via a balloon race with labels attached to each balloon which were released from Ewenny.  Prizes were given for the longest distance achieved by a balloon.

Resolutions Debate followed by a traditional fish and chip super.

WI swap-shop whereby some members visit other groups and vice versa.  In September, 2005, they welcomed visitors from Coychurch WI. 

Merthyr Mawr WI AGM held in October; this was moved to May for all groups following national debate to try to ensure the weather would not deter or prevent members from attending but 2013 turned out to be the colder month! 

GFWI's annual carol concert.

Christmas meal.

CHARITY/COMMUNITY PROJECTS:

Fund raising events for charity such as the 2004 Raise the Maize Appeal.  A coffee morning was held to support the campaign for widows and orphans in Tanzania.   Proceeds went towards training in the cultivation and growing of maize (a staple crop) together with purchase of seeds and equipment. 

Also talking part in The World's Biggest Coffee Morning to support Macmillan Cancer Relief (usually held yearly in September) a UK-wide charity dedicated to improving the lives of people living with cancer.

OUTINGS:

Visit to Sudely Castle in Gloucester.  Full-size models of Henry VII and his six wives in full court dress.  The afternoon was spent in Cheltenham and a meal at "Junction 28" rounded off the day in style.

Day at Chepstow Races with Glamorgan Federation WI.  Dressed in their best with hats to match members enjoyed a flutter on the horses, took advantage of the excellent hospitality tent and even took home some winnings! 

Tour of Cardiff Castle then lunch at an Italian restaurant, followed by a tour of the Millennium Stadium. 

Evening at the Millennium Centre, Cardiff, to see the Nutcracker Suite ballet. 

Visit to Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay with guided tour of the building after a meal in the restaurant.  This trip included the Welsh Craft Centre. 

Trip to the Theatre at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay to see "Kiss me Kate" the musical based on Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew."

Visit to the RHS Flower Show, opened by Princess Ann, in the grounds of Cardiff Castle.  Members were accompanied by Bridgend Inner Wheel on a joint outing.

Day out to Blenheim Palace to see this magnificent building and parkland grounds. 

Trip to Longleat which included a tour of the great Elizabethan house followed by a meal in the restaurant.  Some of the party went on a boat cruise around the lake before travelling through the Safari Park in the bus. 

Conducted tour of the BBC premises at Llandaff, with a look at the studio used by the BBC Orchestra of Wales and the set of Pobl y Cwm. 

WALKS:

Along the rocky path at Llangenith to Worms Head; although in 2004 the walk proved too challenging for some members in view of the inclement weather, the hospitality provided by the Llangenith WI was outstanding and greatly appreciated. 

Summer Walks around the local area.  The first walk of the season in 2005 was from Stoney Lane in Ewenny to the village pond in St. Brides Major.  The ford at Castle-upon-Alun was flooded but the walkers were undeterred and negotiated a very muddy field instead.  Other members joined the group for lunch at the Farmers Arms.

Walk around Bryngarw Park followed by a picnic. 

New contributors always welcome

Visit National Federation of Women's Institute website
Visit The Associated Country Women of the World website

Today's Women Working for Tomorrow's World

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