WI Life – Institute News Reports (*Summer 2022)

Posted July 26, 2022 by WI Staff in Local Areas


“When women get together as a group, it is immensely powerful.”

(Annie Lennox)


As we draw to the end of the WI season, below are some short snippets of WI life, detailing what our groups got up to when members got together…


Institute News – Guidance:

Now that some normality has returned, many Institutes have been able to hold official, face-to-face meetings again, so our traditional Institute News is back! 

For future reference, if you are submitting a report for publication in the Ulster Countrywoman, please follow the format of the condensed, edited versions that are published within the magazine.  

News reports only need to give a very brief synopsis of your meeting and should not be hundreds of words in length.  The word limit for the magazine is approx. 70 words per monthly meeting (give or take!) – although some slightly longer versions are published here on our website.

Don’t forget, you can also submit photographs of your meetings and activities for the main ‘Features’ section of the magazine, as well as for the WI Facebook page.


Please email all content directly to:   editor@wini.org.uk


Rotation for submission of reports for publication in the Ulster Countrywoman magazine:

*All the reports (A-Z) submitted on time for the Summer 2022 magazine deadline are published here:


Aghadowey                       The ladies met in The Brown Trout Inn on 13th April.  The guest speaker was James McVicker, an outreach officer for Deafblind UK, who discussed the work of the charity and outlined the support available. Joyce Workman proposed the vote of thanks. After supper, plans were made for the ACWW sponsored walk in Coleraine.

President Betty Hazlett welcomed members to the May meeting at Adam Frew Ceramics, Cullycapple Park, Coleraine.  In his studio, Adam demonstrated the art of making of two differently shaped pots and, after firing, he showed the finishing techniques for various designs and colours. Many of his finished pieces were on display and members were able to make purchases. Doris Torrens proposed the vote of thanks. Members returned to The Brown Trout for a business meeting and supper.


Annahilt                     In April, the guest speaker was Canon Howard who gave an enjoyable talk about the Royal Family. He shared his knowledge and memories of various Royal events and entertained with many stories. Beth gave the vote of thanks.  The competition for a Royal souvenir was won by: 1st Jean McKnight, 2nd Maxine McConaghy, 3rd Christine McConaghy.  The birthday girls were Roberta McAuley and Maxine McConaghy.


Artana                   On Saturday 28th May, members and friends enjoyed a trip to Killymoon Castle in Cookstown, where they were welcomed by hosts Dorothy and Godfrey Coulter.  A delicious lunch was served at a beautifully appointed table in sumptuous surroundings, before Clark, a very knowledgeable guide, led the ladies through highlights of the Castle’s rich history, from 1671 to the present day.  In recent years the Castle has been refurbished, room by room. The ladies were royally treated by their generous hosts and would highly recommend a visit!


Augher                        The April meeting was held in The Railway Cafe. A minute’s silence was observed for members who had been bereaved and for displaced people in the world, especially Ukraine.  WI business included upcoming events and competitions.  Members were encouraged to think about ideas to attract new members and how to garner greater community involvement.  The competition for a decorated Easter egg was won by: 1st Betty Rooney, 2nd Brigid Hackett, 3rd Sylvia McClung.  Supper was served, followed by Heather Maxwell’s Pass The Parcel, and singing from Geraldine, Hazel and Lynne.


Aughnacloy                     President Sadie welcomed everyone to Movie Night in April. With popcorn to nibble on and Shloer to sip, everyone enjoyed the romantic film ‘Becoming Jane’, based on the life of Jane Austin.  The competition for an Easter bonnet was won by: 1st Patricia Gibson, 2nd Phillis Chapman, 3rd Doreen Donaldson.

The May meeting began with a bustling ‘Bring and Buy’ sale. The following awards were presented: Attendance/Points: 1st Patricia Gibson, 2nd Phillis Chapman, 3rd Elizabeth Bell; May Lewis Vase (floral art): 1st Elizabeth Bell, 2nd Rebecca Gibson, 3rd Phillis Chapman; Loane Salver (traybake): 1st Mabel Leitch, 2nd Doreen Donaldson, 3rd Phillis Chapman, 4th Shirley Dickson; Donnelly Cup (craft): 1st Helen Campbell, 2nd Sadie Hamilton, 3rd Bertha Bailey, 4th Katherine Gibson; Jean Crawford Inspirational Cup: Elizabeth Bell.  The monthly competition winners were: 1st Bertha Bailey, 2nd Rae Loane, 3rd Mabel Leitch.  Patricia and Katherine entertained with The Price Is Right.


Ballievey                 In April, the Ballievey ladies met in the YFCU Hall along with some visitors. Louise Anderson had come along to lead a craft class making Easter cards. The Area competition for a handmade gift tag was won by: 1st Barbara Moore, 2nd Lesley Martin.  After a cup of tea (and with very sticky fingers!) it was time for home.

On 4th May, the group met at the Banville Hotel for tea, then headed on to McKnight’s Garden in Waringstown. It was a dry night with beautiful blooms galore!  The competition to compose a limerick was won by: 1st Kathleen Moore, 2nd Barbara Moore.

Oh what a night in June! The ladies got together for a special evening in celebration of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Two representatives from the Council were in attendance, Lord Major Glenn Barr and Deputy Major Ian Burns, as well as even more visitors from Closkelt and Waringstown WIs, including Executive Member Sandra Ledlie.  Everyone enjoyed a photo challenge, a 1950s quiz and music from the 50s. Let’s not forget the food boxes from Monree Farm in Donaghcloney – fresh and so delicious – cake and 50s sweets, oh what memories, all made possible with a grant from the ABC Council, greatly appreciated!  The competition for a Jubilee hat was won by: 1st Anne Bell, 2nd Linda Woods. The wonderful evening ended with a singalong.


Ballycarry              Maybeth McQuitty welcomed everyone to the April meeting.  The theme for the evening was ‘Musical Memories’ and the ladies had brought along old vinyl records to play.  This evoked many happy memories of past times and everyone enjoyed reminiscing. There was also a ‘bring and buy’ stall which was well supported.  The competition for an Easter decoration was won by: 1st Leta Marsden, 2nd Maybeth McQuitty.  Before leaving, each member received an Easter egg and everyone appreciated the President’s thoughtfulness in organising such a lovely evening.

In May, President Maybeth McQuitty introduced local artist Janine Dempster, who gave a fabulous demonstration of painting on silk. Members then had an opportunity to try this skill. It was very enjoyable.  The competition for a fancy button was won by: 1st Maybeth McQuitty, 2nd Leta Marsden, 3rd Maureen McWha.


Ballyclare                   At the May meeting, the ladies were joined by Susanna Hassard, a flower farmer from Ballyeason, who had brought along lots of beautiful blooms. After a career as a buyer of flowers for supermarkets, Susanna decided, two years ago, to grow her own!  President June McGrugan received a colourful fresh bouquet, which Susanna had effortlessly created.  After tea, International Officer Ann Moore shared information on changes to ACWW – a new logo and approach to future funding and projects – bringing everyone up to date.


Ballygawley                   President Violet Little welcomed everyone to the May meeting. Nan Gilmore read the minutes and all correspondence/WI business was dealt with. The guest speaker was Alan Neil, who shared stories of his many years working with the The Tyrone Constitution and discussed his interest in photography.  The monthly competition challenge was to find the oldest newspaper cutting. Carol Cathers and Hazel Allen were both congratulated on their success at the Balmoral Show Competitions.  Violet thanked Alan for coming and presented him with a token of appreciation.


Ballygrainey                      President Fay Higgins welcomed everyone in April. After a short business meeting, Secretary Vera brought members up to date with forthcoming events, including the Ards Area Meeting.  Unfortunately, due to illness, the speaker was unable to attend – but the ladies made their own fun!  Along with President Fay, members Diane Leitch and Paula Murphy entertained the group with a wonderful afternoon of hilarious poetry and sketches. This brought so much fun and laughter. Sincere thanks to the trio for their enthusiasm and sense of fun, it was much appreciated! The meeting ended with a lovely cup of tea.


Ballynure                    In April Ballynure members and friends met at Ballyclare Golf Club for their annual dinner. Vice-President Jeannie Lynd welcomed everyone and sent regards to those who were unable to be present. In a relaxed atmosphere a delicious meal was enjoyed by all and conversation and laughter flowed. After the meal, a quiz was held and ballot prizes were distributed.  Geraldine Wylie won the magazine prize.


Ballysallagh                    President Margaret Munro welcomed everyone to the April meeting. The guest speaker was Rev Derek Kerr who has a passion for all things Royal.  He displayed a variety of memorabilia – books, thimbles, sewing cases, mugs, money boxes and much more! Not only ‘things’ but also many stories of meeting The Queen and members of the Royal Family.  Members were also given a history lesson of the lineage of the present Royal Family – realising perhaps that they should have paid more attention to the history teacher in school!  The vote of thanks was given by Margaret Collinson who herself has had the pleasure of meeting Royalty at Balmoral Show!


Beragh                  For Visitors’ Night the Beragh ladies welcomed friends from neighbouring Institutes in the Clogher Valley Area. Executive Member Violet Little presented Evelyn Armstrong with a Homecraft Ribbon for rug making.  The quiz sheet prize winners were drawn with Ella Reid, Hazel Short and Hazel McCrea taking the top spots. Roberta Stewart of Roberta’s Bakes and Cakes gave an enjoyable demonstration, decorating cakes, cupcakes and desserts. Roberta made it look effortless and shared lots of helpful hints and tips. Everyone got to sample her delicious Victoria sponge with tea at suppertime. The competition winner for a decorated cupcake was Jennifer Hawkes.


Carnlough                            President Ethel Simpson welcomed everyone in April.  The guest speaker was Mona Hyndman, who provided a wonderful showcase of floral art and kindly raffled her finished pieces.  Plans are afoot for an Autumn trip to An Grianán, and members also discussed the upcoming Spring Area Meeting and Ballymena Show.

The guest speaker at the May meeting was Paddy Erwin, chef from Carnlough’s Twilight Coffee & Bunkhouse.  Paddy baked a delicious wheaten bread and prepared pickled cucumber – both of which members were only too happy to sample!

Members happily attended RNLI’s 50th anniversary celebrations at RNLI Red Bay, Cushendall on 20th May. This included a tour of the station and viewing a video on the charity’s invaluable lifesaving work, followed by refreshments.


Carrickfergus                        In April, the ladies were joined by Paul Black, Crime Prevention Officer for Mid and East Antrim, who gave an informative presentation on home security, sharing lots of practical advice.  He also talked about scams, advising how to spot them and that if something sounds too good to be true – then is probably is!  Leaflets and stickers were distributed, and a question and answer session followed.

The AGM was held in May.  President Pat Beggs welcomed former Executive Member Diana Thompson to chair the meeting, assisted by two tellers.  Voting took place for the new 2022-23 Committee and Pat Beggs was re-elected as President for another term.


Carryduff                        The planned guest speaker for the May meeting was unable to attend due to illness, so instead the ladies took matters into their own hands, with fellow member Jane demonstrating the art of spinning wool and alpaca fleece!  It was fascinating to watch, especially as the finished pieces all came together.  The competition for a piece of Irish linen was won by: 1st Elaine, 2nd Marlene, 3rd Kathleen.   It was a lovely, social evening.


Castlederg                  President Elsie welcomed everyone to the April meeting.  Plans were made for the Abercorn Area One Day School, to be held in October – the first since lockdown began and hopefully another step taken towards a form of normality!  The guest speaker was Alana Miller from The Bloom Room, ably assisted by her mum Margo.  Alana gave a creative demonstration, producing a beautiful Easter wreath.  Alana’s finished piece was later raffled – the lucky winner was Olive Kane.  During supper, the competition was judged as follows: 1st Iris, 2nd Lily, 3rd Sheena.


Clanabogan                   In April, the guest speaker was Julie from Esker Daffodil Farm who outlined the setting up of the business and the many years of hard work involved.  It is now well established, breeding new bulbs and selling worldwide. Autumn is the main selling time for daffodil bulbs, but Julie had various other bulbs for sale. She invited those present to their upcoming Open Day.  A report of the AGM was shared, and members were updated on the latest Federation news.  The competition winners were Ruth and Frances. Irene won the raffle prize.

Welcoming everyone to the May meeting, Vice-President Sharon introduced the guest speaker – RNID volunteer Gerry Knight, who gave a very enlightening and informative talk. Being a hearing aid user himself, Gerry gave those with perfect hearing some tips on how they can help the hearing impaired. With restrictions now easing, it is planned to reopen the Drop-In Centres, where hearing aid users needing advice or simple repairs can call in. He was presented with a gift for his talk, which he plans to pass on the RNID. Members were reminded of the Institute’s ‘Mini Outing’ and AGM, both in June.


Crossgar                                Crossgar WI continues to meet monthly. In April, members welcomed Alex Ashenhurst, a ‘porscenphile‘ – collector of pigs, in other words!  He has been collecting for 40 years and has a variety of pigs from all over the world, including America, China and Dubai. The competition for something pig-related was won by: 1st Lily Gabbie, 2nd Eileen Smyth, 3rd Helen Patton. Ann Patterson was the birthday girl.

At the May meeting, members welcomed Ann Mullan, a member of Saintfield WI, who spoke about aloe vera and its benefits. She had lots of samples, from drinks to pills to gels, and the audience was very interested in how these could help various aches and pains. The competition for a painted egg was won by: 1st Sharon McKelvey, 2nd Ethna Douglas.  President Lorna was the birthday girl.

May was also a time for celebrating! Crossgar WI has a lot to celebrate – members are back meeting again after 1½ years of not seeing each other; this year is the 90th anniversary of WI in Northern Ireland; it is The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Crossgar WI itself will be 75 years old next year 2023. And what better way to celebrate all these momentous events than with afternoon tea, some retail therapy and a lot of chat!  And that’s just what happened on Saturday 28th May in the War Memorial Community Hall, when almost 150 ladies got together. There were members from Annalong, Saintfield, Seaforde, Spa and Slievenaman WIs, as well as ladies from the Crossgar community and further afield (plus a few brave gentlemen as well!)  Over £1,000 was raised for Crossgar WI and its support of ACWW countries. £200 has already been sent via WI Federation Chairman Margaret Broome to help the people of Ukraine during their current crisis. A big thank you to all those who supported this event!


Crumlin                         In May, President Iris Graham welcomed guest speaker Anneka from the Flower Power Nursery. Anneka entertained members with the story of how she set up her business on the Ballyginniff Road Crumlin. She displayed a selection of colourful Spring planters and demonstrated planting a hanging basket while sharing her tips for a successful display. Ann Hyde was the lucky winner of Anneka’s finished basket in the ballot draw. Hazel Minford won the competition and the birthday girl was Iris Graham. New members Joy Jamison and Jenny Stephenson were warmly welcomed to the group.

The Crumlin WI ladies celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a delicious afternoon tea in Killealy Presbyterian Church Hall and entertainment provided by singer Clara Wilson. It was a delight to see some of the more senior ladies enjoying an afternoon out, especially after the last two years. There was a special moment when Ruth Graham was made an honorary member of the Institute in recognition of her service, not only in Crumlin but at Area, Federation and International level. Congratulations Ruth!  Each lady was given a special Jubilee pen as a souvenir of the day.
Congratulations to Hazel Campbell and Hazel Brown who came 2nd and 3rd in the Craft section of the Lisnagarvey Area Meeting, and to Eleanor Pinkerton who placed 3rd in the baking section.
*Many thanks to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council who sponsored this event!


Cullybackey           President Ruth Orr welcomed everyone to the April meeting.  The guest speaker was Jenny Dougan from Mid & East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAPP), a local inter-agency partnership, the aim of which is to improve the lives of older people living in the Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus areas.  The extent of services provided by MEAPP is wide ranging, with the vision being that residents over the age of 50 years of age will have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy lifestyle through being involved, listened to and valued.  Ruth expressed her appreciation to Jenny for the very informative talk and remarked on how the support available through MEAPP would be most beneficial to the well-being of older residents in the Council area.


Desertcreat                         The April meeting took the format of a plant sale. Everyone had brought along a selection of plants, shrubs and cuttings, and for just £1 per item members could buy a variety of these to take home – a great way to increase the shrubs and plants in your garden, while raising money for funds at the same time! The evening closed with tea and biscuits and the singing of A Countrywoman’s Song.

President Maureen Steele Graham, along with her Committee members, organised a very successful car treasure hunt in the local area for the May meeting. A lovely sunny evening ensured everyone had a great night and enjoyed their hunt for clues along the country roads. Hot dogs and biscuits, along with cups of tea, were provided to finish the night.


Dollingstown                                       President Linda Dowds welcomed everyone to the March meeting.  The guest speaker was Jain Wright, who led the ladies down memory lane with her beautiful handmade vintage clothing from the 1970s.  Fellow member Anne Ross had the privilege of modelling some the clothes.  Jain told the story of how she was commissioned to produce a special wall hanging for the wife of the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin.  The competition winner was Vera Hutchinson.

In April, the ladies welcomed guest speaker Margaret McKee who shared stories from her twenty year career working in the Palace of Westminster and the House of Commons. Margaret met lots of interesting people along the way, including several Prime Ministers – she even spoke of having afternoon tea with Margaret Thatcher.  The competition for a souvenir of London was won by: 1st Vera Hutchinson, 2nd was Adje Milligan.


Donaghadee                          For the May meeting, a group of members held their sponsored walk around Donaghadee for Women Walk the World, before heading back to the hall for tea/coffee, home baked scones and a chat with those who were unable to walk. £80 was raised for ACWW.

Once more, members were able to have their annual outing, when they enjoyed a comfortable coach run to visit The Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy for a guided tour.  Everyone enjoyed reading and listening to Heaney’s poetry and learning about his interesting life. The ladies also had a wander around the sensory garden in the sunshine, before heading to The Old Thatch Inn, Castledawson for a delicious meal.


Drumcree                      On 17th May, Drumcree celebrated The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a tea party.  The hall and tables were traditionally decorated, and the best china and cake stands used. The Committee provided beautiful sandwiches and traybakes and a special anniversary cake was cut. The entertainment was provided by John Ford and everyone enjoyed singing and dancing – reliving their youth!  The evening closed with the National Anthem.

On 28th May, the ladies set off by coach for their Summer outing.  The first stop was Christ Church, Castlerock where a warm welcome awaited. Tea/coffee, scones and traybakes were enjoyed before a tour of the Flower Festival to mark the church’s 150th anniversary.  The floral arrangements were beautiful and inspiring.  The next stop was Portstewart, for a leisurely stroll.  Tullyglass House Hotel was the venue for dinner, a delicious carvery. *Thank you to Johanna for organising the outing!


Dundonald                     President Moyra Campbell welcomed everyone to the May meeting, including four newcomers to the group.  The guest speaker was Nichola MacDougal from National Energy Action, who shared advice on ‘keeping warm to keep well’. Nichola’s talk was light-hearted but very informative, particularly in this time of rising fuel costs. Everyone received a Campaigning for Warm Homes pack, as well as several temperature check cards. Nicola judged Pat Allen to be the winner of a Limerick competition and Moyra Campbell won the ballot. Anne Jackson was wished a Happy Birthday!


Dungannon                         President Fiona welcomed everyone to the April meeting. After deveral WI business topics were dealt with, the guest speaker, Lucy Walton, was introduced.  Lucy, a tour guide at the Grand Opera House, gave a most informative history, with the help of slides, on how the building has changed, was saved from demolition and redeveloped over the years. An Easter Egg was presented to the April birthday girl Sheila Coleman.

In May, the Dungannon ladies shared an evening meal in The Stables Restaurant, Benburb, where they enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, delicious meal and, of course, the chat. The birthday girl for May was Renee Kelly.

Sincere condolences were extended to the Kelso family on the sudden passing of our just retired Ranfurly Area Executive Member Margaret Kelso. Margaret was a faithful and tireless advocate for all matters WI and will be greatly missed. 


Eglinton                March’s meeting was a special Movie Night held in the WI hall. Karen welcomed everyone and after the Minutes were read and signed and all business discussed, the ladies settled down to watch the film Love Sarah.  They later paused for an interval of ice-cream and popcorn!  The competition to design a ticket for an event was won by: 1st Ann Pinkerton, 2nd Carole McCloskey, 3rd Cathy Bond.  It was a very enjoyable evening.

There was an Easter theme for the April meeting as each member got to make their own table centre with help from fellow members Irene Boggs and June Faulkner. The finished pieces were later judged by Pennies for Friendship. Mr Jimmy Brewer presented the Friendship Award, which he donated in memory of his wife, Irene, who had been a member for over 18 years and who sadly died in 2018. The competition was jointly won by Iris Burns and Olivia Nutt who agreed to share the award.

The May meeting was held in the local Cricket Club and took the form of a special Wine and Cheese Evening.  Noel McLaughlin from Toast the Host gave samples of different wines, which were accompanied by various cheeses from Julie of Dart Mountain Cheese.  Noel and Julie talked about their choices for the evening and shared various recommendations.


Fintona                   The guest speaker at the April meeting was Hazel McClelland, who gave a fabulous floral art demonstration, featuring arrangements with an Easter theme.  The competition for a floral brooch was judged by Hazel as follows: 1st Ruth Boyd, 2nd Muriel Mitchell, 3rd Helen Thompson.  Earlier in the day, nine members helped to plant oak tree saplings at Ecclesville Park which were supplied by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. Council Chairman Errol Thompson and Councillor Alan Rainey were both in attendance.


Fivemiletown                               The April meeting was held in The Buttermarket. In the absence of President Florence Brunt, the meeting was chaired by Vice-President Thelma Atwell.  The President and Secretary had attended the Area Meeting in Aughnacloy.  Members were updated on the latest Federation news and upcoming events, including the WI’s 90th Anniversary Service and the Christmas Event.  Members enjoyed a word search challenge and the evening concluded with supper.

President Florence Brunt welcomed everyone to the May meeting.  Each member had brought along a poignant photograph to speak about why it was especially significant to them. A delicious supper was served, and the President wished everyone a happy Summer break until we meet again in September.


Garvagh                  In April, the Garvagh ladies welcomed Karin Eyben as their guest speaker. Karin has been involved in the Garvagh Community Forest Project for the past five years. She began by talking about her early life, in various parts of Africa and India, illustrated with objects that evoked memories of her childhood. Karin then used a short presentation to highlight the many activities that now take place in Garvagh Forest, including guided nature tours, a park run, forest school, the Strollers walking group and the Commoning Possibilities Project. She has certainly had a very productive five years!  A vote of thanks was proposed by Gill McCullough.  The competition for a forest picture was won by Nonglak McFadden.

In May, the Garvagh ladies enjoyed a tasty barbecue, sampling different flavours of sausages, burgers and chicken.  A selection of salads and, ofcourse, delicious puddings were provided by the Committee. The competition for a sun hat was won by: 1st Doreen Campbell, 2nd Gill McCullough.


Glarryford                    The Glarryford ladies had a great turnout at their April meeting to hear all about the charity Rural Support and how it helps so many farming families across Northern Ireland. Members had been very busy practicing many creative skills ahead of the Area Meeting.

These skills were judged on the night and the winners were as follows:

Fingerless Gloves – Sandra Patton

Lemon Drizzle Cake – Jean Hanna

Photo of a Summer Day – Heather Alexander

Floral Art – Adeline Cherry

Limerick – 1st Jacqueline Matthews, 2nd Jean Sayers, 3rd Vera McBurney.

The May meeting saw the Glarryford ladies getting into bloom when Raymond Robinson paid a visit to give help and advice for planting up all their Summer pots and planters. All the signs of Summer were definitely in the air and members were looking forward to their annual outing in June before rolling their sleeves up at Ballymena Show!  The monthly competition was won by: 1st & 2nd Renee Petticrew, 3rd Marion Gregg.


Gracehill & Galgorm                     Lynda Brooks welcomed everyone to the May meeting, including and the guest speaker, Bob Baird-Fraser MBE.  Bob gave a very informative presentation about the work of Samaritan’s Purse, with specific reference to Mozambique and Yemen. Rosemary Moore gave the vote of thanks and Bob received a cheque for £150 to support the ongoing work of this charity. Trisha Sherrey and Ann Rossborough enjoyed success in the Slemish Area Competitions.


Hillhall                      On 17th May, Hillhall WI members were delighted to hold their 75th anniversary lunch in the Braniel Hall.  President Anna Scott welcomed special guest Sheelagh McRandal, Treasurer of the Federation and Lagan Area Executive Member. Together Anna and Sheelagh cut the anniversary cake. Sheelagh brought greetings from the Federation.  Also present was Harry Simpson, who brought good wishes and congratulations from Hillhall and Drumbeg Farmers Union.

The hall was wonderfully decorated with every aspect of WI life represented, including many historical items going way back to the beginning when Hillhall WI was formed in 1947.  Eileen Walker was the first President and the first meetings were held in the canteen of the nearby Gracey’s Jam Factory. Following the lunch, guest speaker George Scott, a keen local photographer, showed old photographic slides of Lisburn which brought back memories to many of the members.  A specially designed bookmark representing the 75th anniversary was given by Anna to each member, as a memento of the occasion.  The afternoon was concluded with the singing of A Countrywoman’s Song.


Hillsborough                             On Wednesday 20th April, the Hillsborough ladies were delighted by a demonstration of beautiful floral arrangements by David McConkey of Floral Couture.  David won Wedding Florist of the Year 2022.  He produced three flower arrangements, as well as a small bouquet, all while making the art of flower arranging look extremely easy – but he didn’t fool any of us!  He used hat boxes of various sizes filled with oasis but encouraged the members to use any container available. The flowers were very long stemmed, which gave the opportunity to have a large arrangement or cut them to size for a smaller one. Supper and WI business followed, before the flowers were auctioned at the end of the meeting and several lucky members went home with them.

On Wednesday 18th May, the ladies held their last meeting before the Summer – as the next time they get together it will be for the Summer outing.  They were treated to a presentation from the Data Film Archive of Northern Ireland and it was fascinating to watch footage that was recorded years ago and recognise people and places.  The fashion, dress code and modes of transport took the audience back many years.  Some of the clips featured very well-known places and it was remarkable how they had changed over the years. Members of the Royal Family featured frequently, as they have all visited Northern Ireland regularly, and to observe how the etiquette has evolved really demonstrated the passage of time.  Members could have watched all evening, but instead finished with a small supper and some WI business.


Islandmagee North                         Vice-President Irene Crawford welcomed everyone to the April meeting, including two of the Institute’s newest recruits – Niamh Sprule and Aisling McNally!  The guest speaker was Carole Walker MBE, Director of the Somme Association and Somme Museum. Carole gave a very interesting historical presentation, which was followed by a vote of thanks from Heather Rea.  The Competition for a wartime photograph was won by: 1st Heather Carroll, 2nd Liz Browne.  The monthly draw winner was Niamh Sprule.  Fellow member Holly Crawford was congratulated on her new book ‘Stuck in the Middle with Ewe’ which is out now – and available at the following link! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stuck-Middle-Ewe-Northern-Ireland-ebook/dp/B09XR3LVTY

President Pauline Riddle welcomed everyone to Members’ Night in May.  Fun was had with a quiz sheet, before a fast and exciting game of Pass the Parcel was won by Helen Smith! After a delicious supper, the group was taken on a ‘world tour’ as various members dressed up in character and challenged the audience to guess which country they came from!  The competition for a dressed carrot was won by: 1st Jackie Mahood, 2nd Meta Quee.  The monthly draw winners were Caroline Smith and Marion McNeill.  Pauline wished everyone a lovely Summer break.


Kells & Connor                  At the May meeting, members welcomed Julieanne Hendron, owner of Simply Gifted boutique (located in High Street, Antrim).  Julieanne’s beautiful, stylish high-quality co-ordinates and accessories were modelled by six fellow members – Wilma Buick, Jill Crockard, Sharon Graham, Helen Mitchell, Anna Murphy and Olga O’Neill.  The models must have done a good job as there were some sales on the evening and other ladies are intending to pay a visit to the shop very soon!  Marie Mewha gave the vote of thanks for the fabulous fashion show.  The competition for a piece of costume jewellery was judged by Julieanne and her assistant Janice Lafferty as follows: 1st Marjorie McDowell, 2nd Sharon Graham, 3rd Gwen Henson. Rosemary McAllister won the magazine prize. The Friendship Trophy was awarded to Marie Mewha. The Spring cleaning raffle prize winners were: Christine Farrier, Kathleen Johnston, Marie Mewha, Marjorie McDowell and Eleanor Worthington.


Kesh                        President Jackie Savva welcomed members to the April meeting, extending congratulations to Valerie Entwistle on her recent Emerald wedding anniversary.  The guest speaker was Val Irwin, who gave a very informative and inspirational talk on The Pantry, a foodbank in Lisnaskea.  The vote of thanks was given by Hazel Thompson. WI business included details of Balmoral Show, the Erne Area Meeting and events marking The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  Members were asked for suggestions for a Summer outing. The lucky ballot winner was Susan Ginn.


Killultagh                      The President welcomed everyone to the March meeting, especially 3 fellow members who were returning after being unwell.  Everyone enjoyed a wonderful display of dresses, hats and handbags from Martina of The Hat House, Glenavy. The dresses were modelled by Hazel Campbell of Crumlin WI.  Lots of Balmoral ballot tickets and quiz sheets were sold, as well as tickets for the Institute’s own ballot.  The latter was won by Maeve Campbell and Susan Watson.  The Competition winners were Helen Brown and Kathy McQuillan.  Peggy Megarry was the birthday girl.

In April, members met at Ballance House. Volunteer Freddie Hall gave a presentation, illustrated with film footage, on the life of John Ballance who was born at the house and went on to become the Prime Minister of New Zealand!  A very forward-thinking man, John Balance was responsible for giving women the vote! The UNZT has renovated the house and set up a very informative museum which showcases the Irish connections with New Zealand. A delicious supper was served by Yvonne Hall and the Committee. The birthday girl was Helen Brown.


Laurelvale                       The Laurelvale ladies were treated to a wonderful cheese tasting event for their April meeting.  Local artisan cheese maker Mark Wright, with his renowned Ballylisk Cheese, delighted the group with enthusiasm, energy and passion for his wonderful prestige produce, which is only sold in selected delicatessen shops, including Fortnum and Mason. Ballylisk Cheese is part of the food chain which begins and ends in Ballylisk, Tandragee, Co.Armagh.  Members were encouraged to taste various flavours of cheese with oakcakes, as well as Ballylisk chutneys, and each lady received samples to take home. Elizabeth Pollock thanked Mark on behalf of all the members. The competition for an Easter pavlova was won by: 1st Caroline Whitten, 2nd Leone Whitten, joint 3rd Elizabeth Pollock and Madge Tate.  The ballot winners were Audrey Kennedy and Yvonne Cooke.

President Caroline Whitten welcomed everyone to the May meeting, including personal trainer Amy Withers, who kindly agreed to visit at short notice – and we were very grateful that she could do so!  Amy put the members through their paces with a session of armchair aerobics set to music, which was entertaining and achievable.  Thanks to Amy, on behalf of all the members, was offered by Yvonne Cooke.  The competition for a handmade soap bag was won by: 1st Dolores Cassidy, 2nd Madge Tate, 3rd Josie McDonald.  Ina McDonald won the ballot prize.  The very enjoyable evening ended with supper and the singing of A Countrywoman’s Song.


Leckpatrick                 The Leckpatrick ladies met in Foxlodge Cricket Club on Tuesday 12th April. The guest speakers came from PSNI Community Policing and gave a very informative presentation on avoiding scams, sharing lots of practical advice on managing personal security. A draw was held for the annual Easter hampers, which were beautifully presented, and the lucky winners were Emma McCrea, Gail Sproule and Claire Clyde. Thank you to members for all donations!

The ladies were delighted to hold their May meeting at Oak Gardens near Drumahoe. It was kindly hosted by Adrienne Kelly who gave a guided tour of her fabulous garden and later served tea and coffee while members gathered for their meeting in a lovely indoor area.  The competition was won by Alison McCrea.  June Harpur won the raffle prize.  Many thanks to the ladies who provided transport and supper!


Maze                    In April, Ballykeel Accordion Band made a return visit to provide the entertainment for the annual Hospitality Night. As well as playing familiar tunes that the audience could sing along to, the band members also performed a number of comedy stetches. A lovely meal was served by the Committee. The competition for a musical instrument was won by Rosemary Boyes. The birthday winner for April was Helen Cantley.

In May, John Hill from Randalstown Beekeepers / Chair of the Ulster Beekeepers Association provided a very informative talk on the life of bees. John explained how hives are developed and outlined the difference between honey, bumble and solitary bees. Members learnt that for every pound of honey the bees need to make 30,000 tips out of the hive. The competition winner was Sharon Cullen and the May birthday winner was Sally Houston.


Mountnorris                   Members were welcomed to the March meeting by President Lorraine Scott.  The guest speaker for the evening was landscape gardener Mervyn Walker, who shared tips on gardening and answered various questions put to him by the audience.  He also displayed an assortment of pots, plants and shrubs and members were able to make purchases.    The monthly competition winner was Vanessa Fessey.  A welcome cup of tea for all brought the evening to a close.


Muckamore                      Storyteller Sharon Dickson entertained the ladies at a recent meeting, as she dressed up in character in a vintage wrap-over wartime utility apron with her hair pinned up in a 1940’s headscarf!  Sharon acted out tales on the theme of war and peace, interspersed with great humour.  Part of her monologue featured anecdotes of the Belfast Blitz.  There was more entertainment later in the evening when songwriter Geoff Hatt played the ukulele and guitar and sang well-known songs from the wartime era – a very talented musician who had the ladies joining in and singing along with him!  Margaret Dean proposed a vote of thanks to Sharon and Geoff.  The competition for the evening was for the most interesting piece of war memorabilia and was judged by Sharon as follows: 1st R. McCullough, 2nd J. Johnston, 3rd J. McCollam.


Newtownbreda                 Vice-President Elizabeth Gowdy welcomed everyone to the April meeting.  There was a lot of business to get through, so it was decided to start off with ‘dates for diaries’ as the ladies have lots of delightful activities to attend in the coming months.  Then it was straight in to a Beetle Drive for fun and laughter, throwing the dice to draw the beetles. The winner, Jean Eve, received a lovely Easter egg and, of course, not forgetting – a painted wooden spoon went to Patsy Wells for the least points!  The competition was for an Easter bonnet and there was such an array of delightful bonnets on parade, with an Easter egg for the 1st prize – Kayreen Allen, and 2nd prize – Valerie Brown.  Great effort ladies, well done!  The Birthday girl was Nan Carville.  A rendition of A Countrywoman’s Song completed another fantastic evening at Newtownbreda.


Portglenone                     Portglenone members met for the first time since the initial lockdown in December 2021, enjoying coffee and mince pies in the Wild Duck Inn.

The next meeting was in March 2022, when the ladies had a delightful afternoon tea at Leighinmohr House Hotel.  On both occasions everyone was delighted to catch up with friends they hadn’t seen for some time.

In April this year, normality resumed as members returned to their usual venue, with an excellent attendance. New member Sarah Simpson was warmly welcomed to the group. The guest speaker was fellow member Christine Thompson, who led a creative demonstration on the art of decoupage.  Under Christine’s expert instruction, each lady got to make her own piece of craftwork. Everyone is looking forward to more regular get-togethers in the coming months, in fact plans were made to meet again in May.


Rathfriland                    Retired nurse Gillian Rowland delighted her audience at the April meeting, with colourful and seasonal flower arrangements.  Since then the Book Clubs have met, enjoying sharing their views on the month’s  book, as well as ‘off the subject’ discussions!  The Dining Group had lunch at The Sweet Pea Restaurant at Annett’s Garden Centre.


Ravarnette                            Prior to a recent meeting, the members took part in a tree planting endeavour, in support of the Plant a Tree for Our Future campaign to tackle climate change and mark 90 years of the WI in Northern Ireland.   Many thanks to Jackie for digging the holes and helping everyone plant the silver birch trees in the grounds of Lower Maze Community Hall.

Twenty-one members were present for the meeting.  Condolences were expressed to Kathleen on the recent death of her husband Jimmy.  Maureen welcomed the guest speaker – Lynne McCabe, a remarkable young woman who has been involved in several business, especially running B&Bs.  Lynne described how her business ventures had grown and revealed her plans for a small boutique hotel in Hillsborough Main Street which is due to open later this year.  Elizabeth Jess thanked Lynne on behalf of all the members.  Everyone then enjoyed a simple supper of tea/coffee and biscuits, along with a great chat together.  The birthday girl was Donna Chapman.  Several ladies won pansies and violas in the ballot.  The competition for a fridge magnet was won by: 1st Norma Bell, 2nd Jeanette Shannon, 3rd Marina McKeown.


Richhill                   Members of Richhill WI culminated their 70th anniversary celebration with a visit to the ABC Council Lord Mayor’s Parlour. On what was a very wet evening the welcome was warm arriving at Craigavon Civic Centre to be greeted by the Lord Mayor Councillor Glen Barr and Councillor Jim Speers. A beautiful finger buffet was enjoyed by all. The Lord Mayor then led a guided tour of his Parlour and gave an insight into his experiences during the past year, from meeting Royalty, to posing for selfies with the younger generation at Balmoral Show! Then it was down to business, as the ladies explored the Council Chamber, a very impressive room fitted with the latest technology.  A vote of thanks was expressed by the President to the Lord Mayor for what was a very enjoyable and informative evening.


Saintfield                         The President welcomed everyone to the May meeting.  The guest speaker was Fiona Robinson from The White Tree, which is a social enterprise business. Fiona is a horticulturist with a great interest in herbs. She shared her knowledge of the history of herbal medicines, ranging from the time of the early Egyptians, to the present day.  The birthday girl was Elizabeth Moore.  The monthly competition winner was Irene Craig. Eileen McMillen was the lucky winner of the prize. Members donated an array of produce for Balmoral Show.


Seaforde                      President Annabel Cleland welcomed everyone to the March meeting, including two new members – Tracey Lambert and Audrey Briggs – and Jenny Doherty, who was returning after an operation. Federation Chairman Margaret Broome discussed her recent aid mission to Romania which borders Ukraine.  It was a great success and the £1,000 raised by Seaforde members was donated to the charity Women of The Third Millenium, then distributed to five different facilities housing refugees from Ukraine. Fellow member Lorraine Bothwell then led the members through a floral art demonstration – a fun time with a great bunch (pardon the pun) and flowers to take home at the end of the night!

In April, the ladies were joined by Hannah Lockhart from Playlist for Life, a charity set up in Glasgow by Sally Magnusson (daughter of Magnus Magnusson) to create the soundtrack of your life.  Hannah led members through an emotive presentation on the power of music – “Music is neurologically special because it stimulates many parts of the brain at once.  This means that even if parts of the brain are damaged, music can still reach other parts.”  The ladies shared their own personal experiences of this phenomenon. Hannah had been given a list of members’ tracks, and everyone sat in a circle, each telling the story about why a particular track was special. What a wonderful night! The competition, for a piece of concert memorabilia, was won by: 1st Annabel Cleland, 2nd Judith Wainwright, 3rd Margaret Broome. The ballot was won by Helen Newell. Susan McDowell was the birthday girl. Needless to say, everyone went home singing!


Spa                 At a recent meeting, the ladies welcomed guest speaker Henry Coulter from International Meeting Point (IMP).  IMP is a project of the Presbyterian Church which supports those who have been forced out of their own country, often by violence, and after a long torturous and uncertain journey find themselves in Belfast – a city they might know nothing about.  Spa WI member Elizabeth Smith commented, “Henry radiates enthusiasm, energy, a sense of humour, commitment and love. The foundation of IMP and Henry’s work is found in the words of Matthew Ch:25v32-36 and they try to support refugees in all aspects of their new lives in Northern Ireland including housing, healthcare, education, language, bureaucracy, transport and employment. Is there a more challenging list?!”  Prior to the meeting Henry was asked what the members could do to help? He suggested a donation of toiletries as people coming to IMP simply can’t afford them. Thanks to the generosity of Spa WI there should be no shortage for some time! For further information about IMP, please contact the Council for Mission in Ireland at imp@presbyterianireland.org or check out the Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/IMPbelfast


Tamlaght                        Tamlaght WI held its first Coffee Morning in April, after a lapse of two years due to the pandemic.  Members were delighted to welcome along many visitors from the county, along with fellow members from Institutes in the Erne Area.  This proved a great success and sincere thanks must go to all who supported the Tamlaght ladies on the day and those who sent donations!

In May, members attended the Area Meeting hosted by Brookeborough WI, held in Aghavea Church Hall.  Instead of the usual Institute meeting for the month, the ladies travelled to Boxtree Nursery in Kesh. Although the weather wasn’t kind, it didn’t dampen the spirts and lots of lovely plants were purchased!  The group later travelled on to Mahon’s Hotel in Irvinestown for a lovely meal.


Templepatrick                     The guest speaker at the April meeting was Cathy Rodgers from the charity Tiny Life. Cathy shared the story about a miracle baby boy called Kadin who was born prematurely at twenty weeks, weighing just 1lb 10oz.  Thanks to the specialist skills of doctors and nurses, Kadin is now 2½ years old.  Tiny Life offers support for parents, grandparents and families, and supplies help up to 2 years for premature and very ill babies.  The charity is also involved in ongoing research.  Margaret Beattie proposed a vote of thanks and presented Cathy with a donation on behalf of all the members.  After WI business, the ballot was drawn and Carol Borland was the lucky winner.

Vice-President Margaret Beattie welcomed everyone to the May meeting, including guest speaker John Kerr, a volunteer from the Bird Life Six Mile Water Trust.  John gave an excellent presentation and slide show of the Six Mile, which is actually 18 miles long and rises on the slopes of Shane’s Hill – 5 miles from Larne, through Ballyclare, Templepatrick, to Crumlin Lough!  John’s ‘prize slide’ featured a photograph of a beautiful swann taken near the Lough.  There were some other wonderful slides too of the kingfisher, herons, bats and dippers.  Ida Lorimer proposed a vote of thanks to John.  Joan Wallace was the lucky ballot winner.  Naomi Steele was wished a Very Happy 90th Birthday!

The annual Summer outing took place on Saturday 21st May, when the Templepatrick ladies travelled to the Creative Gardens at Logwood, Ballyclare.  They were able to peruse all the lovely plants and have a coffee and a catch up, before moving on to Five Corners Restaurant for a tasty two-course meal.  The weather was good too!  Roberta Stinson and Margaret Harbison were thanked for organising the trip.


Terrydremond             In April, President Ruth MacCombe welcomed members to Cooper’s Garden Centre,  where all enjoyed a sumptuous supper and gardening chat with Delma Cooper.  The warm welcome and cosy fire certainly brightened up the cold wet weather outside!  The competition winners for a flower arrangement in an eggcup were: 1st Ruth MacCombe, 2nd Janette Loughery, 3rd Sandra Mullan. The evening closed in traditional WI style with the singing of A Countrywoman’s Song.




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