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The Road to Success with the WISH Bursary

Driving WI


One of the highlights of the WISH calendar is the draw for 2 of our members to win a £50 bursary each year. The lucky members can choose how they spend their £50 as long as it is something educational and they will feed back to the rest of the group.

One of ladies from the 2015 draw, Mary has been kind enough to tell us all about how she spent her winnings. Over to you, Mary!


I was delighted to win the £50 Wish Bursary in 2015, what a lovely start to the new year.

Then the problems started , what should I spend the bursary on?  Should I find a college course to enrol onto? Not always easy when you have to fit it around work commitments. Should I learn to Salsa? Not with my two left feet !!

I debated for so long with myself I was beginning to think I would never decide !!

Then it happened , the moment that made my mind up for me.

It all happened in July on a Blackpool bound trai .Stay with me  !!  My son lives works in Blackburn and had recently bought his first house , and in the best tradition of all good Mums I needed to visit his new abode and do some motherly interfering !!!!

I boarded the train at St Helens Central, it was rather packed to say the least, but I was lucky and spotted the one vacant seat. I was like grease off a shovel, that  seat was mine. It did not take me long to find out why the seat was vacant.

I was sitting amidst a hen party from the Isle of Mann who were off to Blackpool for the weekend.

The fun soon began , I was offered a can of larger  which I politely declined, my immediate neighbour then decided she was tired of consuming lager and proceeded to swig from a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. Then I was told various snippets of her life story and introduced to several equally inebriated members of the hen party. She then decided she was going to be sick, luckily we arrived at Preston and it was time for me to change trains .

When I finally arrived at my sons house and regaled my experience to him, he shook his head and said “ Mum you have a car be brave and use the motorway “.

My mind was made up, I would invest the bursary in some motorway driving lessons. A driving instructor was recommend to me by the lovely Deb Connor, the lessons were duly booked.

What can I say, I had spent years avoiding motorway driving because of an irrational fear, in the process making life difficult for myself at times, with a few hours expert instruction I had laid that fear to rest.

To quote a wise lady ::

We gain strength and courage and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face . Eleanor Roosevelt

Thank you WISH.



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The Girls at The Lowry

A cold January night saw the ladies of WISH, in an audience of like minded ladies, watching a new and exciting production of the film/show that undoubtedly did for the WI what Mickey Mouse did for Walt Disney.

I am of course talking about The Girls. An updated and refreshed version of The Calendar Girls, which I am sure you all know is based on the true story of Knapley WI, Yorkshire who stripped off to make a calendar to raise enough money to buy a settee for their local hospital.  This, of course, they achieved along with enough money to build a new wing at the hospital and plenty more.

The Girls Lowry Salford


The show did not disappoint – The music was written by the golden boy of the music scene, Gary Barlow,( unfortunately we missed his appearance on stage, by about 4 days!)

The music in the main was a narrative, in much the same vein as Les Mis. Songs that told the story, rather than random dittys. Very catchy songs but not too syrupy and twee.  The story was updated and rewritten by the original playwright Tim Firth, and a magnificent job he did.  An extra layer was added with the teenager children of the members, and also their husbands being more than just background material. Adding much to the plot and lending more empathy for the women.

It was a show that built up and up, there were tears and laughter throughout.  The pinnacle of the performance was of course the making of the calendar.  The ladies, who were all fantastic actors and had the bodies of “real” women, stripped of to and bared all, to loud cheers and applause from the audience.  It says a lot for the production that this was not in the least bit gratuitous or sleazy, but uplifting and brave.  There was nothing about the production that I did not enjoy, the scenery was different and interesting, the acting fabulous and believable.  The Lowry is a lovely theatre and we were sat in the front of the stalls and had a great view.

The Girls Gary Barlow

This is a new production, first seen in Leeds at the end of 2015 and hopefully moving to The West End later this year.  I think it will thrill audiences for a long while to come.

My thoughts are that they raised much more than money. They raised the profile of The WI and brought life back to it, many seeing it with fresh eyes. I am not sure that many of our members have come along expecting to strip, but many are game for new experiences and challenges.

The Girls are showing at The Lowry until 30 January 2016. For tickets and more information visit here

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WISH & The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels


On the 7th July a group of us set off to see the opening night of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Liverpool Empire and we were in for a treat! I had seen the original film way back in 1988, starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, and remembered a slick, witty, laugh-out-loud comedy, so I was keen to see how the musical version would compare – it did not disappoint! The musical is a funny, lavish, beautifully staged romp with plenty of razzle-dazzle which we all enjoyed.

Set on the French Riviera in stylish Beaumont-sur-Mer, Lawrence Jamieson is a charming, sophisticated British con artist whose aim is to separate wealthy females from their money. He is assisted in his endeavours by his manservant, Andre, and he enjoys a lavish lifestyle, living off the fruits of his deceptions, until American hustler, Freddy Benson, arrives on the scene. The two are determined to outwit each other and eventually compete to swindle American heiress, Christine Colgate, out of her fortune – but is she all she seems?

The production stars Michael Praed as Lawrence (Robin Hood, Robin of Sherwood) and Noel Sullivan as Freddy, with the wonderful Mark Benton playing Andre. However, for one of our group, Hillary, the star of the show has to be Carley Stenson (Steph, Hollyoaks) as the feisty American heiress, Christine Colgate. Hillary is a friend of Carley’s sister, and remembers Carley as a fifteen year old who used to help her sister run step classes! Hillary was thrilled to have the opportunity to watch Carley perform on stage.

The musical is a wonderful escape to another time and another place. Many thanks to Sue for organising the trip – especially the fantastic seats!

Many Thanks to Teresa for this brilliant write up of her theatre visit!

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When WISH went to the Royal Garden Party

Last month, ladies from every WI in the country descended on Buckingham Palace to attend a special Royal Garden Party, hosted by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to mark the Centenary of the WI. One of our members, Teresa was lucky enough to have one of the golden tickets and has kindly told us all about her day:

Royal Garden Party Invitation

Attending the WI Royal Garden Party was a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience which I will never forget. I met some amazing ladies from all around the country – some who, like me, had only been WI members for a couple of years, while others had been involved for over forty years. Most of our conversations took place in the queue to get into the Palace which, although it took over an hour, was a very good humoured affair, if a little windy at times!

Outside Buckingham PalaceThe queue

Photos were not allowed inside the palace so all of mine were taken while queuing. Everyone had to show ID, which explains the long wait, but we were all too excited to notice the time.

Handing over the ticketLooking glam

Once through the Palace rooms, we found ourselves looking down onto the lawns from a beautiful terrace. It was just a sea of colourful hats and fascinators, with the striking outfits of the Yeomen of the Guard dotted around. We managed to see each member of the Royal party as they made their way down to the Royal Tea Tent: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Gloucester. They spent time chatting to people and each of them seemed warm and friendly. The biggest cheer of all, though, was saved for the Calendar Girls as they also made their way to the Royal Tent.

We're going in!

The rest of us were content with the Main Tea Tent, which did not disappoint: a fabulous array of tiny cakes and pastries, plus finger sandwiches of course – delicious! Time flew by and it was soon time for the Royal party to process across the lawns as they departed – we managed to get a front row spec (at last) and were able to get a great view as they passed. Someone near me began to sing ‘Jerusalem’ at that very moment, and soon everyone joined in – I found it extremely emotional and felt an incredible bond towards the other ladies (all 8,000 of them!)

I loved every minute of my time at the Garden Party and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful event in the history of the WI – I just wish we could have all been there!

Teresa Turton

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WISH Centenary Exhibition

WI Invitation Sat

We are really pleased to announce that our Centenary Exhibition opens tomorrow (23rd May) until 17th July 2015 at The World of Glass, Chalon Way, St Helens.

We have plenty to look at – Come and find out about the history of the Women’s Institute and of course, what the ladies of W.I.S.H. have been up to since we formed just over 3 years ago.

The exhibition is free to visit (Don’t forget to sign the visitor’s book to let us know you have been and what you thought of the exhibition).

The World of Glass is open 6 days per week (Closed Sundays) from 10AM to 5PM.

For more information, please email wisthelens@gmail.com

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