BLAKEDOWN WI: The president Chris Rostron welcomed two visitors from Cookley WI and thanked Rosie Williams for the vase of beautiful flowers, which she had provided for the front table. Members had brought in their heart creations, which made a colourful table display; they included Valentine cards, various embroidered hearts, bunting and a powerpoint of heart shaped photos of WI events.

The secretary, Chris Burt read out the minutes from the last meeting and made particular reference to the vote for the resolutions. Many worthwhile causes had been proposed. However banning the microbead obtained the most votes and that information would now be passed on to the National Federation. The treasurer Judy Tromans announced that Blakedown WI had raised money with its successful Christmas Panto; in addition the Village Supper Committee has made a much appreciated contribution to WI funds. Members were again reminded of the forthcoming activities: Lunch club, ramblers and the book club. Kath Lahive asked if there were any more people interested in joining a second Book Club, which is to be started up shortly. The Triennial Conference for the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) is to be held at Warwick University in August - the first time in the UK for 76 years. Members were asked to refer to their Worcestershire WI news for this exciting event and for the many activities planned by Denman College and other WI’s. The good news is that the WI is expanding with 150 new branches and 40,000 additional members, meeting in a variety of venues including pubs and wine bars. Crafts, cooking and good causes still feature very strongly on the agenda.

Jan Cook mentioned to members the plans for a village Produce Show, which is to take place in August. It will include judges awarding prizes for various categories, stalls and a scarecrow competition. Currently Jan is looking for volunteers to help and to make contributions to the Tombola.

The speaker Chloe Lees was then introduced. Rather to the surprise of the members, she described herself as a full time story teller and would therefore not be telling us about love and chocolate as expected but would weave the subject into a story. She has been performing for 15 years in libraries and schools for both adults and children and had a large repertoire of oral stories from across the world. What a lively and entertaining performer she proved. From a story set in Cairo straight out of the Arabian Nights to a morality tale involving two monks, to a traditional story from the isles of Scotland to an amusing tale in Worcester. Chloe held the audience spellbound and all agreed how lovely it was to listen to stories. Before being warmly thanked, Chloe spoke about how she became a storyteller, how she remembered stories, her voice training and where she collected the stories from.

The evening finished with an enjoyable picture quiz featuring well known heartthrobs and the winner of the heart competition was Ann Lindop, who had produced a striking heart cushion.

The next meeting will be on 9th March which includes a talk on the Alps followed by a Sound of Music singalong.