It was just 2 weeks before the start of lockdown in March that we last got together in person. Since then it has been a very strange time for everyone and it was particularly hard for many who live alone. Lots of members/friends and neighbours rallied round to help with delivering medicines/provisions etc., and there were quite a few doorstep conversations.
We were certainly very happy that we live in such a beautiful part of the country here on the edge of the New Forest National Park. I know the local walks and good weather kept us sane. Eventually, when we could drive out to walk or were able to meet in our gardens, we really appreciated that freedom. I’m sure everyone would agree that the hardest part of lockdown was not being able to meet up with family or friends.
We had hoped to resume our meetings with our annual garden party in July, but instead, on one of the hottest days in August, about 12 of us met for a socially distanced picnic under the shade of a lovely old beech tree behind Plaitford Village Hall. Shortly after this new rules made it impossible to resume meetings so it was arranged for another Plaitford picnic in September while the weather was still good and was enjoyed by all.
As it seemed unlikely that we would be able to meet together indoors for the foreseeable future it was decided to bite the bullet and go on-line and in October we had our first Zoom meeting with a talk/slide show of a South African safari given by one of our members and her husband. Once we had successfully experienced this Zoom meeting we were confident to continue in this fashion.
This was followed by our first quiz which was great fun and definitely tested the grey cells! In November we had a talk entitled ‘Flanders to the Tower’ on Zoom by Jeremy Prescott. He explained the story of the poppy and how it has become the symbol of remembrance for those killed in conflict right up to the iconic poppy display “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’’ in 2014 at the Tower of London. Jeremy’s talk was on behalf of the charity Combat Stress, which is currently helping almost 6,000 UK veterans. The charity helps those suffering from mental ill-health, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression following military service. Support is provided through a 24 hr helpline, community support centres and specialist clinical treatment at three residential treatment centres, in Ayrshire, Shropshire and Surrey.
Our December meeting was with speaker, Jane Glennie. Her monologue was entitled “How do you take yours” and this gave us the idea to make and distribute individual Christmas cakes accompanied with a card holding a tea bag and a thoughtful poem for all our members to enjoy together while listening to Jane. This was very well received and we were able to enjoy virtual time together instead of our usual Christmas party.
Bearing in mind we are a very small group of 22 members with many in their eighties these meetings and quizzes have been enjoyed by almost all of our ladies either on their own PCs/Ipads or by buddying up when permitted. We are very proud of their efforts to stay connected until we can resume our meetings. Phone calls have been made, birthday cards continue to be sent, WI correspondence has been forwarded and generally contacts have continued as much as possible. Looking forward to 2021 we have a full programme of speakers and quizzes arranged until such times as we can physically resume our meetings.
- Submitted by Sue Dubber, WI Secretary, Landford, Hamptworth and Nomansland WI