Nether Heyford W.I. – February/March 2021


As Covid follows us into yet another year I do hope that you at least managed to enjoy Christmas Day! Although Nether Heyford WI missed out on its 90th Birthday Party every member was given a boxed cup-cake, beautifully made and decorated by Jane Rands. We were also mentioned in the Northampton Federation Newsletter and on the Northants Website. In a WI version of the Secret Santa, each member was given another member’s name for whom they then made a Christmas card. We also had our first Zoom meeting in December and so an ‘alternative’ Christmas was celebrated.

Our January Meeting saw us using Zoom again to listen to an interesting talk given by Julia Doherty who, after building up and selling multiple businesses, went on a 500 mile hike across Spain. The experiences she had and the people she met had a profound effect on her and she told us how they changed her life for the better.

We will be staying with Zoom meetings for the foreseeable future. On February 4th at 7.30pm there will be an ‘Italian Cookery Demonstration’ by Mariella Bliss. Her website tells of her work with running courses, working with farmers’ markets and describes her as a personal chef, caterer, and lover of all things foodie! Sounds like a good evening!!

On March 4th, again at 7.30 & via Zoom, we have a talk on ‘Building and Running a School in Sierra Leone’ by David Gelsthorpe-Hill. David is a Trustee for the Charity ‘Extra Mile’ which, by building the school, has helped change the lives of its pupils. It is an ongoing project and Phase 2, building a Library, is now under way. During the evening we will hear how the funds are raised and how we can help.

If any Prattler readers would like to join us on either of the evenings please telephone me to get the code numbers for the Zoom meeting. We hope it won’t be too long before we can meet up and start using our Village Hall again. Until then, Take Care.

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge, Church Lane – 01327 340101

Nether Heyford W.I. – December 2020


And so, The Nether Heyford Women’s Institute’s 90th birthday has come… and gone! Sadly, we won’t be enjoying the party we were planning to have in December but we did receive a certificate from WI House commemorating the event. We would have been presented with this at the County Federation AGM but covid wreaked havoc yet again and it was delivered by the postman instead! It is good to have and we shall accept it with pride and thoughts of all those WI ladies that did so much for the village during those 90 years.

Along with everyone else, we must hope that the exciting news of vaccines will mean that life will return to some kind of normality in the not too distant future and all our village groups will be able to resume. Just think how wonderful it will be to be able to throw away those facemask’s and recognise everyone again! I also wonder how many extra miles have been walked by people going home to fetch them so they can get into the shop?

As I write this I have no idea what plans will have been made for us for the Festive Season but I do know that the members of the WI wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous and HEALTHY New Year!

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge, Church Lane – 01327 340101

Nether Heyford W.I. – November 2020


One thing that this enforced break has done for many of us is to bring us more up to date with technology! Earlier in October the Nether Heyford branch of the WI, alongside other branches in the country, had to hold their A.G.M. and, after consulting our members about meeting face to face, it was decided that we would hold a Zoom meeting. Sometimes we complain that technology is taking over our lives but this was a lovely way to see people again with the business part of the evening ending with the usual laughter!

A few days before the meeting each member was sent a card from Pat Essery, our President, and a bag of yellow narcissus bulbs. These are for us to plant, take a photo and to bring to a meeting in the spring (we hope!) We will endeavour to bring our Spring Garden into the Village Hall.

We are hoping to use Zoom again before Christmas; so, Ladies, watch this space, and also that we may be able to have just a small ‘distanced’ gathering to mark our 90th Birthday. We have decided to delay our main celebration until next year. I know I speak for all the Committee when I say that we miss our evening meetings and that we hope we will all be able to meet up soon.

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge, Church Lane – 01327 340101

Nether Heyford W.I. – September 2020


I was so looking forward to writing the September article for the Nether Heyford WI which was anticipating the interesting Speakers for the next few months and all the fun of our 90th Birthday Celebrations BUT, as you will have guessed, the year is still ‘on hold’! We were keeping our fingers crossed that we may be able to hold a social meeting on September 3rd but, sadly, it seems unlikely. Our Birthday Celebrations will probably take place next year (I wish I could do that with my own!!) but you can rest assured we will have a ball when it does happen.

I’m sure you will agree that it has been so strange not being able to take part in the great community spirit of this village of ours. As a WI we look forward to seeing the usual faces when we do meet up again although, sadly, we will be missing the very familiar and loved face of Beryl Smith who has died since we last met. She was a long standing member of our group and, in spite of finding it hard to move freely, was up for every bit of fun that was on offer. I will have a lasting memory of her laughter as she sat watching our members trying to remember the steps of country dances. We send our love and sympathy to her family. She will be sorely missed.

I try to be an optimist so I will go on hoping that, by the time the October Prattler comes through your letterbox, Northampton will have ceased to be one of the worst coronavirus towns in the country and we will all be another step nearer to normality. Until then keep smiling and stay safe.

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101

Nether Heyford W.I. – July & August 2020


As I was wondering what to put in yet another “Lockdown” edition of the Prattler I realised that it was almost time for our wonderful Village Fete. It was to be a special one this year, it being the 60th Anniversary of the building of the Village Hall, and I know it would have been a day to remember. However, thanks to the coronavirus it was not to be. Also, true to form, the rain was imminent after days of really hot sunshine.

During our WI Committee meetings at the beginning of the year we were busy planning for our 90th Anniversary celebrations in December and remembering past events and achievements. Heyford Fete days were often mentioned. As always, events like these are hard work to organise and set up but they are remembered as events of great fun and laughter (in spite of the wind and rain on many occasions!). Earlier in the Fete’s history one of the main users of the Hall would make and sell the refreshments on the day instead of having a stall. There are always smiles when remembering the days beforehand spent making cakes and Fete mornings buttering bread for sandwiches which upheld the reputation of the WI as providers of wholesome, homemade fare!

Then there were the themes for the day. On the Village Hall’s 25th Anniversary the WI ladies went round the village on an “Alice in Wonderland” themed float. I am reliably informed that Alison Haynes was Alice, Maureen Wright the Mad Hatter, Pat Essery the Queen of Hearts and Mary Hyde the White Rabbit. I believe there are photo’s as proof!! One year they masqueraded as St. Trinian’s, another, they managed to acquire a milk float upon which was placed a bed containing Alison and Maureen and, on another occasion, featured the Land Army (where Alison and Maureen were the front and back of a cow, with Maureen spraying onlookers with a water pistol!) Does any of this sound like the staid picture people like to paint of the WI?

It is sad that we have had to miss this year’s fun but I am sure it will be even better next year when all is back to some kind of normal. I hope that when the September edition of the Prattler comes along our groups may be able to meet up again and there will be “live” events to write about but, until then, we wish you all a good and healthy summer.

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101


Nether Heyford W.I. – June 2020


Here we are – another month on and still waiting for life to go back to normal! What can you put in an article about a group which hasn’t been able to meet since March? Well, one thing that came to mind was the news that, in December 2020, Nether Heyford WI will celebrate their 90th Anniversary! During a conversation with Mo Wright (a long time member) I discovered that she had a back copy of The Prattler with an article about the 50th Anniversary celebrations – memories galore with many good old Nether Heyford names that people will no doubt remember.

During 1930 three ladies, Mrs J. O. Adams, Mrs Punch and Mrs George were walking back to their homes in Nether Heyford. They had been attending the monthly meeting of the Womens Institute in Bugbrooke, where they had been members for three years. As they walked along the quiet lane, they discussed the formation of a branch of the W.I. in Nether Heyford and Mrs Adams volunteered to see the County Secretary at W.I. House in Northampton. When the required 10 ladies had been gathered together, the great day arrived and the foundation papers were duly signed in November 1930. In actual fact there were 48 members present, far more than the required 10! Mrs Adams was the first President, Mrs George the Secretary and their monthly meetings were held in the school where Mrs Carrington, the Headmaster’s wife, supplied the hot water to make the tea. Cups and saucers were loaned by the Baptist Chapel, carried over in a clothes basket and then washed up at home before their return!! By the first Annual Report on December 3rd 1931 they had purchased ‘6 doz of crockery and spoons, an aluminium tea urn and a large tea pot’. Obviously the clothes basket was too heavy!

Their activities were varied, sometimes a speaker on a subject of interest to countrywomen, competitions of all kinds, an Old Tyme Dancing class and Keep Fit classes run by Mrs Blaney. Subscriptions were 2/6d. They corresponded for many years with a group in Queensland, Australia and forged another link, nearer to home, with the Delapre Townswomen’s Guild. It was realised that the village needed a focal point for expanding activities. Fund raising of all kinds, including a Garden Party at Manor House, then occupied by The Vice President Mrs Shiel, raised a sum of £100. ”An ankle competition had been suggested and the Secretary was asked to see Capt. Shiel, Mr Knight and Mr Whitton with regard to judging same”. The minutes never revealed which gentleman was given the job!! As you know, the Village Hall was eventually built by volunteers in 1960 and is still the meeting place of Nether Heyford WI.

Our WI has taken part in raising funds for many charities, assisted at the Blood Donor Clinics, held Annual Produce Shows, have attended the Queen’s Garden party at Buckingham Palace, won the shield for handicrafts at the County Show In Nether Heyford and won the County General Knowledge Quiz in 1968. This was all in our first 50 years – what we do next is down to us!

So, we look backward to our Golden Jubilee Celebration and forward to our Ninetieth Birthday Celebration and see how life has changed in 40 years. There are many differences – those in travel, technology, communication and attitudes being just a few. Some of these have altered the way in which the Women’s Institute functions and few letters change hands now with emails having taken over. But the pandemic has brought some of the WI’s original baking skills back into fashion, with the entire nation rushing to buy flour and cake ingredients! However, the basic foundation of the WI hasn’t changed. In Nether Heyford there is still as much friendship, good humour and interest in other people’s life stories and crafts, as well as the love of our village life, that there ever was. If, when all this is over and you feel you would like to come to join us for an evening, please do. We would love to see you!

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101


Nether Heyford W.I. – May 2020


The WI President, Pat Essery, and I were talking several days ago and likening the present ‘Lock Down’ to the war years. Although then, as now, several items of grocery etc. that we use regularly were almost unobtainable, she pointed out that what kept us going as a Nation was the one thing that is so difficult to have now – the physical company of friends and neighbours. In the busy lives we all lead it is easy to underestimate how important that can be.

This set me thinking about Nether Heyford WI who will be celebrating their 90th Birthday in October. Although I have lived in the village for 50 years I only joined the WI about 17 years ago. However, when I was researching the history for the 85th Birthday I came across a lot of names that I already knew and by the end I felt I had got to know a lot more. What the ladies of the WI did for the village was incredible and I thought you might like to hear about just one of the war years in particular.

1942, and it must have seemed that the war would never end. Money and food must have been short, although food was possibly a little better in the country than the towns. During the year the ladies had allowed themselves a little frivolity and gone on a June picnic. It doesn’t say in the Minutes just where they went but it conjures up a lovely picture of a line of ladies with picnic baskets heading off along the path to The Mill or sitting on our beautiful green. A moment out of time in the horrors of war. In October they spent some time discussing if they should carry on over the next few months. The decision was made to miss November and then try to carry on as usual. This they did by holding a Jumble Sale and Gift Stall in December at which they raised £15 for two charities. As £1 from 1942 has the buying power of £47.43 today (according to the internet!) that was some achievement!!

At their Annual Meeting they had a Balance of £3.

During the year: £4 was sent to the National Institute for the Blind
The knitting class organised by the WI knitted 303 articles for the Merchant Navy
The War Savings Group (part of the National Savings Group to raise funds to
support the war effort) reported savings of £540 for the year.

They also sent eleven and a quarter hundredweights of potatoes to Northampton General Hospital. This was the result of the generosity of Mr Adams (Husband of the President and father of Hugh, who, as I’m sure you know, still lives in the village). Every year he would give seed potatoes to be shared between the members to be grown in their gardens.

This is just one year of Nether Heyford WI’s war efforts and when I finished going through the minutes at the Records Office I felt proud of all those ladies who gave so much of their time. Although I was born in Towcester and, as such, am a ‘newcomer’ I feel very proud to live in this beautiful part of Northamptonshire and to be part of this community. It has changed very little and those friendships will surely be making a real difference to these difficult weeks.

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101


Nether Heyford W.I. – April 2020


The March Meeting was an interesting and eye-opening evening for some of the WI members who thought they couldn’t paint! Michael Peachey, an artist for nearly sixty years, coaxed several members to contribute to a ‘sea-scape’ painting, provided amusing stories in between and showed several examples of his work.

Sadly, along with the rest of the country, we are having to cancel our meetings until further notice. As a nationwide organisation we do not do this lightly and, along with the other groups in the village, we know how much these meetings contribute to the community feeling for which Nether Heyford is known and loved. We wish all the Prattler readers good health in the next few months and hope to see Nether Heyford WI Ladies looking hale, hearty and ready to organise our 90th Birthday celebrations later in the year.

Until then, take care.

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101


The Story of Heyford: Nether Heyford Women’s Institute V4C1

One day in 1930 three ladies were walking back to their homes in Nether Heyford. They  had been attending the monthly meeting of the Women’s Institute in Bugbrooke, where they had been members for three years. They were Mrs J.O. dams, mother of Mr Hugh Adams, Mrs Punch, and Mrs George. As they walked along the quiet lane they discussed the formation of a W.I. in Nether Heyford, and Mrs Adams volunteered to see the County Secretary at W.I. House in Northampton. When the required ten ladies had been gathered together, the foundation papers were signed – with nervously shaking hands – in November 1930.

The Programme from 1938


TheStoryOfHeyford-NetherHeyford_W1_P3The early years
Mrs Adams was the first President and Mrs George the Secretary. Their meetings were held in the school where Mrs Carrington, the Headmaster’s Wife, supplied the hot water to make the tea. Cups and saucers were loaned by the Baptist Chapel, carried over in a clothes basket and then washed up before their return. The activities were varied, speakers on subjects of interest to countrywomen, competitions of all kinds, and classes on old-time dancing and keep fit. Subscriptions were 2/6d which though seeming a small amount, was about on a par with those paid today.

A link was formed with a W.l. in Queensland, Australia, and members found much interest in exchanging news and views with an organisation on the other side of the world. During the War, parcels were gratefully received by members, in particular those containing soap, which was in very short supply. Another link nearer home, and in more recent days, was formed With Delapre Townswomens Guild. This continued for many years into the 1980s, with enjoyable get-togethers and exchange of ideas.

For many years meetings were held in the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom, but quite early on the W.I. had an ambition to have its own hall, so a Building Fund was established and money-raising events of all kinds began, including a garden party at the Manor house, then occupied by Mrs Shiel (Vice-Chairman at the time). The sum of £100 was raised, but the W.l. Hall was not to be and the money was eventually passed on to the committee set up to establish a Village Hall. This was eventually completed in 1960 on ground that had belonged to Mr Adams, With the help of village volunteers from all walks of life.


Wide ranging activities
The activities of the Institute are far—reaching. The subjects of our speakers and demonstrators are extremely varied. “Jam”? Yes, why not? And pickles, cakes, and grub of all kinds. Not to mention handicrafts, art, gardens, games and sport, local and family history, wild life and conservation, public speaking. “Jerusalem”? Well, no, not these days at our local meetings, though it is always sung with gusto at county and national events.

An annual produce show, open to all village residents, started in 1969, still continues in 1999, and creates much interest and fun.

Teams from our W.I. have done well in general knowledge quizzes run by the County Federation. In 1968 Mrs Judy Ward, Mrs Sheila Masters and daughter Hilary were the winners, and in 1994 we triumphed again, this time with Mrs Hyde, Mrs Essery and Mrs Joan Wright joining Mrs Masters.

For many years W.I. members have helped at the Blood Donors Clinic which is set up in the Village Hall twice a year. We serve the donors with the welcome tea and biscuits after they have given their life-saving blood.

Fund raising is a perennial occupation for all village organisations, and the W.I. is no exception. As well as making sure that we cover all our own expenses – speakers, hall fees, etc – these days we concentrate on raising funds for the Village Hall, now our regular and familiar meeting place. Money-making events include antiques evenings, occasional lunches (appropriately called ‘Nosh and Natter’) where senior citizens enjoy good food and good company, concerts (with, of course, nosh) and a stall (selling, of course, home—made nosh) at the annual Village Hall Fete, at which members have been known to dress up in weird and wonderful array — St Trinian’s and the Mad Hatters Tea Party are amongst the more memorable.

In the wider world our members take part in County Federation events. There is a tree planted in our name in Brixworth Country Park. Each year we discuss and vote on resolutions to be brought up at the National General Meetings, the results of which are passed to Governments, so that our W.I. plays an integral, if small, part in bringing subjects of importance to government attention, and action has been taken in many areas from these. Every few years we send a delegate to represent our W.I. and several others, and their reports are heard with great interest.

Canadian origins
All this started, not in England’s green and pleasant land, but in a small Canadian town called Stoney Creek, where a farmer’s wife, Mrs Hoodless, lost a child and realised that this was happening far too often to women of her generation owing to ignorance of simple health and hygiene rules. She made it her life’s work to help educate women so that they could have happy and healthy families. And on 19th February 1897 the first W.I. in the world was inaugurated at Stoney Creek.

The movement came to Britain in 1915 – the first W.I. being formed in Llanfairpwll in Anglesey, and the national Federation was established in 1917. One can scarcely believe that in those days it was difficult to find the 2/- (10p) subscription and to obtain the husband’s permission to attend meetings. However the enthusiasm of those early members surmounted all obstacles, and while the emphasis was on skills for country living, their horizons were immensely widened. I suppose it would be called ‘empowerment’ these days. Women who would have said they ‘couldn’t do anything,’ suddenly found that they could hold a meeting together, speak in public, demonstrate their skills and share their experiences. Many members have increased their skills and developed their talents at Denman College, the W.I.’s own Adult Education College in Oxfordshire. Opened in 1948 and named after Lady Denham, the first National Chairman, it offers courses to members on anything from painting to philosophy, from lace-making to local government, opening to women whole new worlds.


Seventy years and still going strong
Nether Heyford W.I. has passed its Silver, Golden and Diamond jubilees, and our ‘70th’, whatever that is called, comes up in the year 2000. It would take too much time and space to enumerate all the fine personalities who have graced our membership down the years. But we remember with pride some of those who have gone from us. Mrs Adams, the first and longest serving president – twenty-two years non stop. Mrs George, founder member and long time secretary and president. Mrs Nora Humphrey and Mrs Lou Garrett (later Robinson), both stalwart members and both serving as treasurer for many years. Mrs Ellen (Nen) Blaney, enthusiastic and generous-hearted member, Mrs Hilda Chapman, long serving secretary, instigator and for years the organiser of our produce show. Mrs Eve Gothard, County Committee member and enthusiast for our overseas connections. And Mrs Nellie Clements, willing, skillful, tireless committee worker, the kind of member who is the backbone of our movement.

Back in 1897, Canadian women chose for their motto, ‘For home and country’, and despite all the changes and modern improvements that have taken place down the century, it is difficult to think of a phrase that more closely reflects the purpose of the Women’s Institute movement.

Sheila Masters (with the help of Maureen Wright, and other members)


Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 1 of 8 | Pages 2 to 6TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

Nether Heyford W.I. – March 2020


At our February meeting we were told about the foundation and history of The Samaritans. I’m sure many of us knew of their existence but hearing first-hand of the commitment and incredible work they do left me feeling very humbled. The Reverend William Adams told us of their lengthy training, which teaches them that they cannot suggest solutions to people’s problems but just listen and support – and all completely anonymously on both sides. The shifts the volunteers work cover 24 hours, 7 days a week. I can only begin to imagine what the night shifts can be like, especially in the gloom of the winter months. It is a lifeline for many and one which can only survive with our charitable support.

We have a change of programme for March when Michael Peachey, a Northamptonshire artist, will be coming to talk to us. Evidently this is an evening of art for people who know nothing about art! I only know a little so, with luck, I will come home more enlightened. We will be meeting in the Village Hall on Thursday 5th of March at 7.30pm and there will be a warm welcome for any ladies who would like to join us. The cost of the evening is £5 and includes refreshments.

In April our speaker will be Jayne Jones who will be telling us about ‘Foraging and Cooking’. I can’t wait to see if she can tell me what to do with the enormous crop of ground elder that we always have in our garden (and probably in everyone-else’s, too) Who knows, Heyford ground elder may yet be able to rival spinach in Sainsbury’s next year!! But, then again…

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101