Meeting Reports

If you weren’t able to attend our last meeting or want to relive the highlights – this is where you can catch-up!  

Special thanks to our scribe who makes this possible!


Our October speaker didn`t feel confident to describe “The Highs and Lows of a Stuntwoman`s Life”  (our advertised programme) which was hardly surprising as she was a last minute replacement .

As often happens in these cases, it all turned out very well as Sheila Farmer described her experiences working in theatre and television wardrobe departments. Starting in repertory she had moved on to the West End , including the National Opera  , with forays into television , making costumes for programmes such as `Upstairs Downstairs`.   Her talk was illustrated with photographs , designs and anecdotes , occasionally juicy, and she concluded by showing us a few jackets from her  vintage clothes collection .We  gazed in awe at the exquisite and intricate workmanship.

In late September, our walking group – accompanied on this occasion by several very well-behaved dogs- celebrated `Big Green Week` with a local walk to Horton Kirby, returning via  the bridge at  Westminster Fields and paths alongside the river. We rounded off the morning with tea and cake in the village hall. It was such a good morning  that Autumn and Christmas walks are planned for November and  December .

Our next meeting on November 5th will have a continental flavour. Our speaker, Michael Bunn will tell us why he loves Paris and we`ll be indulging in some French-inspired refreshments and a fun mini-quiz.  There are  rumours of a glass of wine on arrival……..

We  welcomed 2 more  new members this month.  Why not pop along as a visitor and see what the WI is all about ……..

Marilyn Wells



UPDATE! Our Macmillan Coffee Morning on Farningham Day raised a mammoth £750 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Thank you again to everyone who supported us.


Tea and cakes  feature highly in   this month`s WI report !

A huge `Thank you` to everyone who supported our Macmillan Coffee Event – with tea and cakes – on Farningham Day .  At the time of writing, figures are still being finalised but it`s already clear that, thanks to residents` generosity , a significant amount has been raised. We`ll publish the final amount  in next month`s Trident.

A special thank you also to those other stall holders  –  Farningham Butchers, Nessie the Balloon Lady , the jigsaw exchange and the coconut shy – who made donations from their takings and to  the Parish council who were so supportive.

Two days earlier we met for our monthly meeting, welcoming Jackie Gillard from `Blended Therapies` . A lively and entertaining speaker,  she told us about   her earlier career as a nurse and her recognition that   alternative therapies can complement conventional medicine. She moved on to talk specifically about aromatherapy describing  the application of different oils and their  effects . In conclusion, we all had an   opportunity to have a go at blending our own creams and to take an original   mini-pot home.

Two weeks earlier we got together for a belated combined celebration of our 102nd and 103rd birthdays. After a welcoming glass of prosecco, ladies settled down to an afternoon tea , (with cakes) , before following clues to discover the villain in our home-produced murder mystery. The afternoon  had been a long time coming, but it was worth it !

 September is proving to be a busy month . Not only are our monthly small group meetings  – Craft, Monthly Lunches, Book Club, Short Mat Bowls – resuming  but we`ll also be marking Big Green Week (18th-26th Sept) with a walk  followed by – you`ve guessed it – tea and cakes in the village hall.

Our October meeting is on 7th October , when Lucy Allen will be  telling us about `The Highs and Lows of a Stunt Woman`s Life`.

Interested in joining us? We`ve  welcomed 5 new members in recent months. Why not pop along as a visitor and see what the WI is all about ……..

Marilyn Wells


*A full list of the winning numbers in our Macmillan raffle is available on request

Extra Special 103 Birthday Meeting

  Happy Birthday to us!
103 and still going strong!

Better late than never….. there was a belated birthday celebration on Saturday August 14th at the Village Hall  at for  Afternoon Tea, followed by “Murder at the Manor”, a short murder mystery presented by a (willing?) group of volunteers from our committee  and  a couple of other ladies. Set in locked – down Farningham, the task was to discover how the Lady of the Manor ended up floating in her swimming pool!

The Cast

210805 Table 8

More pictures in our Gallery!   (click here)


210805 mtg

The strains of “Jerusalem” echoed around the village hall at the start of our first `formal` evening meeting for 520 days. On this occasion we did not join in but instead, used the time to  reflect on the events of the past year  and to pay our respects to four of our ladies – Irene, Suzanne, Irene and Bev – who  had passed away in the last sixteen months.

Our speaker this month was Elitta Fell , a textile artist, who specialises in painting on silk. She began with a series of fascinating facts about silk and the legends surrounding its origins over 5000 years ago before moving on to tell us about her work. Painting on silk is similar to watercolour in many ways, but the interaction of the silk and the dye makes it very interesting, sometimes with unexpected results. She demonstrated a range of different techniques to control the flow of the dye into the images she wants, using some of her beautiful scarves to illustrate her points. We hope to invite her back later in the year to lead a workshop for us.

Towards the end of July, we celebrated the end of restrictions with a special seaside-themed event . The fish and chips for lunch arrived on time , although sadly our speaker didn`t . However, undeterred,  we all  enjoyed  a light-hearted quiz and a round of Bingo!  In fact, we decided that the afternoon was better without him!  Souvenir photographs were taken and ladies decorated colourful frames to house them.

In  September we`ll be welcoming Jackie Gilliard from “Blended Therapies” to talk about Aromatherapy  from the history and origins of essential oils through to blending oils and making products. Rumour has it that we`ll be making our own sample pots of cream.

Farningham Village hall  2nd Sept @ 7.30.p.m. Visitors welcome.

Look out for us at Farningham Village Day on September 4th. We`ll be  selling tea, coffee and cakes , with all proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer .

Marilyn Wells


JULY  2021

It was all going so well….until the roadmap delay was announced.

Regulations on numbers wouldn`t  allow us to have a formal meeting large enough to accommodate all those who might wish to attend so we decided to reschedule our speaker and think again.  Feeling  really  strongly that it was important psychologically for us  to go ahead  somehow , we  organised an informal evening `newsletter pick-up` which  gave us much more flexibility .

We turned the village hall into an impromptu bistro, and ladies  were greeted with  glasses  of wine , before sitting at indoor and outdoor tables for cheese and biscuits and a chat.   Some aspects of a `normal` meeting were included ,   although we still couldn`t sing  `Jerusalem`  ! Perhaps next time…..

Just a week before, on a sunny morning at the end of June ,  a group of us met at Lullingstone Country Park for  a leisurely  walk through the woods and across fields and meadows , with stunning valley views,  before following a  path that  descended  into Shoreham village , then   alongside  the river back to the park. The lavender was just coming into flower and there was time for a quick stop at Home Farm Shop and a cup of tea and a cake  before we parted.



Christmas began early for Farningham WI ladies with a trip to Chartwell Christmas Market . We spent an enjoyable morning checking out the gifts at the stalls , before enjoying coffee , cake and chat in the cafe and comparing our purchases! Almost everyone seemed to find a special little present or two.
Special little presents were also on sale at our stall at the Church Christmas Fair , in the form of festive bags of goodies, perfect for Christmas stockings. Thank you to everyone who supported us : half the proceeds were donated to the Church and the other half will be used to buy goods for the Food Bank collection at our Annual Council Meeting in the New Year.

Early December saw one of the highlights of the year , our Christmas party. This year did not disappoint. Around 60 ladies gathered in the village hall, for welcome drinks and an excellent 3 course Christmas meal , followed by an `in-house` production of “Rumpelstiltskin” .

Barbara, Irene, Pat, Brenda, Beryl , June and Marilyn, and director, Pat,

presented the traditional tale, with a `twist`, to a very enthusiastic (and vocal) audience .

Don`t the decorations along the High Street look great? Clearly, there are some very creative people among us, just like the members of our Craft group.

Obviously, I couldn`t possibly comment further….. except to say, Merry Christmas from all the ladies of Farningham WI!
Marilyn Wells

On January 2nd , it will be our first meeting of 2020 and our New Year Quiz. Why not come along?


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£500! The amount we were delighted to send to Macmillan Cancer Support following our successful September coffee morning in the Village Hall. Many thanks to everyone who supported us and a special thank you to the WI ladies who baked cakes, donated tombola mugs, made craft items, ran stalls, served teas and cakes and washed up!
At the end of the month, we dressed in our best for an Autumn Lunch at The Hilltop Hotel. As usual, Daren rose to the occasion and we were greeted with chilled prosecco and tables set up with starched white cloths and flickering candles in tall candelabra , before sitting down to a delicious meal. As always , when WI ladies gather, there was lots of chat and laughter!
After all that excitement , the October meeting could have been a bit of an anti-climax , but thankfully our speaker, Dean Caston did not disappoint. Relaxed and professional, he led us on a whistle-stop tour of the history of The Royal Variety Performance. Beginning in 1912, and held in various venues over the years , it has featured the most popular stars of the time and is a firm favourite with the Royal Family . Dean illustrated his talk with posters , photographs and musical clips as well as humorous anecdotes , bringing back many memories of the radio and TV stars of our childhoods.
October was also our “Illustrate Autumn” competition . Entries included flowers, fruit and vegetable arrangements, craft , watercolours, pen and ink and collage, and a harvest cake (still warm from the oven!) . There were so many we had to bring out more tables. The standard was high and competition in the 5 categories was fierce but finally Sally, Lynda, Micaela, Bernie and Pat were declared worthy winners.
The theme of our November meeting is “What a load of rubbish!” and Marj Reynolds will be sharing some interesting ideas and tips for easy recycling . Visitors welcome.


September was a busy month for the ladies of Farningham WI.
In response to one of this year`s national campaigns, “Don`t Fear the Smear” , we supported Macmillan Cancer support by joining in The World`s Biggest Coffee Morning , with an event at Farningham Village Hall, and, later in the month, we enjoyed an Autumn Lunch at The Hilltop.
Our September speaker was clearly a busy person too!
Neil Sadler spent over 30 years as a police officer in various ranks across Sussex , as well as working briefly in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Abu Dhabi. Beginning with a photo of himself and a female colleague at the start of his career in 1978, contrasted with one of his daughter (also a police officer) in full 2019 kit, he described how uniforms and equipment have changed over the years.


He then focussed on “Missing Persons and The Babe in Arundel Woods Saga” . We were reminded of the story of John and Anne Darwin, of the “Canoe man” fraud, when they faked his death by drowning in order to claim on the life insurance. Then, Lord Lucan, who remains a missing person to this day, as, sadly, does Madeline McCann. Scientist David Kelly, reported missing and later found dead, was almost certainly murdered. Agatha Christie famously disappeared, only to be discovered in a hotel in Harrogate. And the “Babe in the Woods”? She was a two year -old who vanished from a family picnic near Arundel, forty years ago. Hundreds of people helped to search for her, including some who actually hindered the search by getting lost themselves, but happily the little girl was found alive and well three days later, having wandered over 3 miles.
Neil finished with an extract from Tony Blair`s autobiography, describing his unfortunate appearance at the National WI Conference, where he received a slow handclap. Neil had no such misfortune as the verdict on his talk was “hugely enjoyable”!
In October, we`ll be welcoming Dean Caston, who will be telling us some of the history of The Royal Variety Performance .
Visitors are welcome too. Come and join us.


The Five Fs ! Fun, Fashion, Flappers, Films and Fab Inventions epitomised `The Roaring Twenties` and after a lively introduction with Cole Porter`s `Let`s Misbehave` , our August speaker, Delia Taylor led us on a whirlwind tour of the decade.
In reaction to the end of WWI , attitudes were changing , the economy was growing and the world was ready to embrace change. Women were no longer prepared to conform to the image of “the little woman at home” and the flapper was born. Corsets and bloomers were discarded, skirts – and hair – shortened and make-up (previously only worn by ladies of ill-repute) became popular and widely available.
Having fun was the order of the day and dances such as the Charleston and the Black Bottom were popular, enhanced by the invention of the gramophone. The dial-up telephone and launch of BBC Radio improved communication and travel by ship, trains and planes became popular. Charles Lindbergh was everyone`s hero and when he landed at Croydon in `The Spirit of St Louis` was mobbed by adoring fans. Henry Ford`s Model T was manufactured , selling over 15 million.
On the silver screen, silent films gave way to `talkies` and stars such as Errol Flynn , Douglas Fairbanks, Clara Bow and Greta Garbo emerged . However most famous of all was Rin Tin Tin!
As with all things there was a darker side. The so-called `bright young things` led hedonistic lives, tainted with drink and drugs and some flirted with fascism. Inevitably, the General Strike, Wall Street Crash and Great Depression brought the era to an end.
An accomplished and engaging speaker, Delia illustrated her talk with contemporary pictures, advertisements, film clips and music, ending with lively audience participation in Bing Crosby`s and Louis Armstrong`s `That`s Jazz.

JULY 2019

We rarely give much thought to those who work behind the scenes following mass disasters, so it was eye-opening to hear David Tadd`s talk at our July meeting.
As former Head of Forensic Investigation for the Metropolitan Police, Dave led a small teams of experts who, with only 24 hours notice, flew to Thailand at the end of December 2004 to deal with the aftermath of the tsunami. Their brief was to work with similar groups from other affected countries to identify the thousands of people who had lost their lives.
What do you take with you when you have no knowledge of the conditions?
How do you cope with almost 6000 bodies , piled up in a sacred temple in extreme heat?
How do you identify them , when you don`t even know nationalities?
Dave admitted that on arrival, they were met with chaos , confusion and uncertainty which was hardly surprising considering that the whole area had suffered major devastation. The teams worked together , quickly setting up a system of identification using fingerprints, DNA, dental records and unique physical features (such as a numbered pacemaker or artificial joint). However, this was only the beginning : it was followed by painstaking detective work to collect and match information about everyone reported missing in that region.
The story we heard was harrowing, yet fascinating and we were left with huge admiration for the professionalism, patience and compassion of those who worked so tirelessly to yield answers for grieving families and to reunite them with their loved ones.

6 JUNE 2019

Our 101st Birthday Celebration

“Fizz and Frocks” was the theme of our 101st Birthday Party in June and, as usual, the ladies of Farningham WI rose to the occasion.
Dressed in their best (the “Frocks”), they started the evening with glasses of prosecco (the “Fizz” ) , before sitting down to enjoy a lavish buffet .Then came the highlight of the evening as we welcomed Margaret Watson , a professional harpist . Never have 45minutes passed so quicklv !
A charismatic and gifted performer, Margaret entertained us superbly , combining a range of music with stories of how she fell in love with the instrument and how it works. To our amazement, she began with an Elvis Presley song , “Can`t help falling in love” , moving on to some Buddy Holly , Glenn Miller`s “Chattanooga-choo-choo” , and then the enchanting “The Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera”. Music from France and South America was followed by some traditional pieces, including “Greensleeves” and “An English Country Garden”. The, with a nod to her Celtic heritage, she concluded with a lively Irish Jig and “Galway Bay”.
We learned that her beautiful golden Classical Harp costs around £31,000 and needs to be ordered over a year in advance. The reason why became clear as she gave a very simplified account of how harp works : forty-seven strings and seven pedals each with a top, middle and bottom position. Strings include red and black to denote notes C and F, which is fine unless the venue happens to have a red or black carpet, or , on a very bad day, tartan! Experience has taught Margaret to make sure she brings along a neutral-colour rug , just in case , and that the best way to transport a 41 kilo harp is a three-wheeled trolley and a van.