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Guarlford Women's Institute


2021 to April 2022

Well, it’s two years since the first lockdown in March 2020, which sent us into a strange new world, and WI members had to create fresh ways to keep in touch with each other. We are now almost back to normality, having resumed meetings in the Guarlford Village Hall and also the popular outings. For the first half of 2021 we had meetings by Zoom, and The Guarlford Gossiper (our WI newsheet) also kept members in touch with each other, with lots of chat, articles, photos of our gardens and the beautiful countryside around us.

On our third Zoom meeting, Tuesday 20th April 2021, we had a lot to discuss. The National AGM meeting resolution was  “A call to increase the awareness of the subtle signs of ovarian cancer”; we were asked to read about this in the April copy of “WI Life” on page 17 and to vote on it at our next meeting.

One of our members then gave an interesting talk about “Tools for Self Reliance”. A group of volunteers collects old and worn tools which are then cleaned, mended and refurbished, ready to be sent to poorer countries, mostly in Africa, so that people can grow crops for themselves and to sell in the markets. The seed and plant swap also raises funds to keep the work going and to pay the shipping costs.  The group will accept tools including sewing machines to be refurbished, and we were asked to look in our sheds and garages for any equipment we no longer need.

Then we had a “Divine” chocolate tasting session, for which a pack of 12 bars of chocolate with six different flavours had been delivered to each member. We had to rate each bar out of 10 for aroma, snap, texture and flavour, giving a total out of 40 for each.

Chocolate tasting

Only two people preferred the white chocolate with raspberries, the dark chocolates were more popular except for the very dark 85% cocoa one which most of us found too bitter but one really enjoyed. A fun experience on Zoom!

On 27th April a group of six members, accompanied by one lovely spaniel, enjoyed a walk through bluebell woods near the village. The flowers were at their best, and the walk was especially enjoyable as last years had to be cancelled.

Bluebell walk

As we still couldn’t have our monthly meeting in the Village Hall the Committee organised members into three groups to meet elsewhere on May 11th for tea and cake. One group met in and near a summerhouse, enjoying scones with jam and cream, lemon drizzle cake and chocolate fudge cake.  A second group was able to enjoy tea and delicious cakes, socially distanced, by a comfy kitchen, and a third was joined by the family dogs at their tea party in the garden, also with very tempting homemade cakes. All agreed that it was good to meet physically after so much Zooming - lots of chatting and laughs.

The year 2021 marked the 80th Birthday of Guarlford WI, so on June 14th we met in a large marquee in a beautiful garden for a delicious buffet supper, including Prosecco and a wonderfully rich chocolate cake.  It was also the ninetieth birthday of one of our members, and ladies turned up trumps bringing a huge selection of buffet dishes from Coronation chicken to fruit kebabs. The supper was served “school dinner” style by Committee  members to minimise Covid infection risk, and we all had plenty to eat. We were able to see a collection of old tools donated to the charity “Tools for Self Reliance”, and a raffle in aid of the charity raised £48.                           

The Craft Group were very busy making items for a ‘pop-up’ shop during the Worcester Big Parade (of decorated elephants) in aid of St. Richard’s Hospice, and in June many were taken to Upton Stitchery to await collection. (The Stitchery is a very good wool and fabric shop in Upton upon Severn.) The Craft Group made tea and coffee cosies, lots of sewn and knitted elephants, hand puppets, cushions, shopping bags, greetings cards and even pull along wooden elephants on wheels. We were told that the St Richard’s Hospice pop up shop in Worcester city centre eventually took a total of £24,000, to be added to the amazing £368,800 raised for the charity by the auction of the decorated elephants.  

Elelphant tea cosies

The country was still in Covid restrictions at the time of our meeting on the 13th July, so we were again invited to the beautiful garden of one of our members. The Committee were liaising with Malvern District Council and The Malvern Hills Trust to find a spot within the village of Guarlford for us to plant a tree to celebrate 80 years of Guarlford WI. Members all voted for the tree we would like to have and a crab-apple tree was chosen.

Our first WI meeting back in the Village Hall was on August 10th 2021, when David Morgan told us why he is “A Reluctant Gardener”.  With many lovely photographs he told us how he and his wife Di, who he claims does most of the work, created their garden and now take part in the National Garden Scheme opening their garden to visitors for charity.  He said it always helps to have tea and cake available. WI ladies agree with him there!

On Sunday August 15th a “Thank You” tea-party was held in Guarlford Village Hall by the village hall committee to thank everyone in the community for their help during the Covid lock-downs, which have affected everyone in one way or another. A willing team of WI ladies manned the tea-bar, and members made a delicious selection of cakes.

Tables were set up downstairs in the entrance lobby as well as in the hall because the stair-lift had broken down (irreparably!). In the upstairs hall there was a fascinating display of medical artefacts and memories from WI members who had trained as nurses. It was an opportunity for Guarlford residents and others to enjoy a chat as well as the delicious tea; a raffle raised £85 and this, plus donations totalling £20, was sent to St. Richard’s Hospice.

(Over the next few months grants were obtained for a new, essential, stairlift. Guarlford Village Hall was once a malthouse, and the main meeting room is upstairs.)

On the 14th September we held our biennial Produce and Handicraft Show.  The number of entries was down compared with earlier shows, but overall the standard was high in most  categories, and our official WI judges were impressed.  The marmalade and lemon curd entries all scored high marks, but we did not do so well with the chutney. So a chutney making class is planned.

The organiser of the Show Schedule includes all kinds of Classes to encourage many members to enter. The official WI Judges always offer constructive comments, praise and advice, so we would definitely recommend that other WIs also have such Shows.

Basket of vegetables

For our first outing since the 2020 Lockdown twelve members met on September 27th at “The Alpaca Meadows” near “The Rhydd” for lunch. It is lovely spot, and the grassland leading down to the River Severn looked beautiful in the sunshine.  The ladies tucked into their sandwiches and pies and, while waiting for a torrential cloud burst to pass over, sampled some delicious cakes. One llama was spotted, but after the torrential rain it was decided not to use the path to the llama field, which had become slippery.

At our meeting on the 12th October our speaker was local archivist, Jan Condon, who told us about her challenge to catalogue and preserve a collection of photographs taken in Malvern on one day in 1971.  The photographer was Michael Dowty from Worcester, who photographed a similar sequence of images of Worcester which have been published.

There are over 200 photographs in the Malvern collection, which had been stored in two cardboard boxes in the depths of the Malvern library in manila folders, not good for long term storage of photos, which evidently really need to be in polyester sleeves. Jan showed us samples of the photographs, eg one of three buses at Belle View Terrace, and another of youngsters waiting for the ticket office to open at the old out-door swimming pool in Priory Park - with no adults in sight. There were views of the Church Street shops with canvas awnings shading the goods in their windows, plus bicycles and even prams left quite safely outside shops. The photographs prompted many memories from those who could remember Malvern in 1971.

On 19th October two members went to the WFWI 2021 ACM at the Bank House Hotel in Bransford. After a reduced list of business items, Sue White gave her chairman’s address.  Members were then entertained to a talk and demonstration by florist Andrew Lloyd, who talked and told jokes the whole time, mostly about relaxing in the garden, while he filled the wide stage with displays: wedding displays, windmills, Autumn and for the garden.

Our own Annual Meeting was on the November 9th in the village hall.  Then on November 18th a group, including husbands and partners, visited The Commandery in Sidbury, Worcester, for a conducted tour. The guide was very knowledgeable, and it was fascinating to discover the layers of history associated with this historic building.

Re the tree in the village to mark the 80th anniversary of the first meeting of Guarlford WI in June 1941 - The Malvern Hills Trust gave their permission for our choice, a crab apple tree, to be planted on the common at the junction of Clevelode Lane and Guarlford Road. So on 22nd November, a sunny but very cold morning, two strong husbands lent a hand to dig a hole, and the sapling was ceremoniously planted by our President, watched by members of the Committee. A week later there was a terrific destructive storm, and a tree at the end of Clevelode Lane blew  down - it missed our sapling by a few inches!


As Advent approached members once again supported the Teams4U Christmas Shoebox appeal, providing eleven boxes filled with presents for a range of ages. The ladies of the Craft Group also knitted more angels for distribution around the village.

Saturday December 4th saw the revived Village Christmas Fayre, when members manned many of the stalls as well as providing Refreshments - the Craft Group had worked very hard to fill a Stall with tempting items and there were delicious homemade cakes on another. The Village Hall looked colourful, festive and attractive. A very pleasing number of people attended and seemed to enjoy everything that was on offer, not to mention trying their hands at a variety of old fashioned table games. A very successful afternoon which raised £1,500 for hall funds - sufficient to pay the balance owing on the stair lift, as well as raising spirits and putting villagers in a festive mood.

Xmas treeAlso revived in 2021 was the Madresfield Christmas Tree Festival set up in St Mary’s, one of our parish churches. So we joined eight other local groups decorating trees with many themes. For ours this year we chose a Scandinavian theme, using decorations in red and white, mostly handmade, plus white lights. Beside the tree we placed a knitted St Lucia doll, patron saint of Sweden, with her story.

December’s WI meeting took the form of a party, and after being welcomed with mulled wine we were entertained by a delightful singing group, Pick n Mix, who pitched their choice of music just right for our age group, and it was lovely to have a sing along, even with masks on. This was followed by a buffet supper and social time. Again this year, instead of secret Santa presents to each other, members donated money, which was distributed between three charities.

2022 began with an excellent New Year lunch for members, husbands and and partners at the Malvern Hills Hotel. Then February saw us back in the Village Hall, complete with new stair lift, for a very interesting talk on the history of Kays, the Worcester based catalogue company. Years ago, they were the Amazon or Argos of their day, and their catalogues could be found in numerous homes up and down the country. Like so many other businesses they underwent numerous changes and now only a few artefacts remain from the old days, which will, hopefully, find a place in a museum.

Members also helped at the Village Tea and Cake afternoon on Sunday 27th February - entry was free.

Because the large Village Hall downstairs room had been cleared in preparation for the Hall refurbishment, there were tables of bric a brac offered in return for donations. There was also a raffle and the Craft Group had Easter items to sell, including lovely greetings cards and these Creme eggs in finger puppets.

Easter eggs

Volunteers for Guide Dogs gave us a very informative talk on March 15th. We learned how dogs are selected, trained and matched to owners, and how funds are raised. Problems for the visually handicapped moving around were highlighted, and the handsome dog, called Taylor, behaved impeccably and entranced us all.

So you can see that, even in these unusual circumstances, Guarlford WI is very much alive and active, with a varied programme of activities. If you are looking for a group to join or wish to find a Women’s Institute in the Malvern area, why not come and see us sometime? We usually meet on the second Tuesday in the month at 7.30 pm in Guarlford Village Hall. You would be very welcome.




Please contact us if you require further information.


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