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Blood Brothers – WISH Theatre Trip

wi theatre trips

In November, a group of our members descended on the Liverpool Empire theatre to watch Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. Our Trips Co-ordinator, Sue gave us a write up of their evening:

“So, did you ever hear the story of The Johnstone twins, as like each other as two new pins?”

Of one womb born on the self-same day, how one was kept and one given away”.

“No, then I’ll begin…”

So begins the story, on a cold night in November, 10 ladies from WISH were enthralled, mesmerised, entertained and truly reduced to tears, by the world famous story of The Johnstone Twins. We went to see Blood Brothers in the only place that it should be seen, Liverpool.

It was a marvellous performance; each and every actor gave it their all. Maureen Nolan took the lead role as the overworked and abandoned mother of nine children; she gave an outstanding, heart rending performance and was in tears at the end (as were we all).

A show that has so many layers is bound to hit a chord or two, for people who lived through this era then it was a poignant reminder of how things were back in the days before the welfare state. A time when children played out for hours on end. The class system that treated the children of the wealthy in a different way, how being born into money ensured a life of luxury; children born into poverty could look forward to hard work (if they could get it) or a life consigned to the scrap heap. Has anything changed?

Some of us had been to see this show before, for others it was their first time but from comments made on the night, probably not their last.

Many Thanks to Sue for that write up – WISH have plenty of theatre trips lined up for 2014. We try to stick to fairly local venues with a wide range of subjects that will appeal to our members at least once. If you have any suggestions for any performances that you have seen advertised or heard about, please feel free to pass on your suggestions.

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Crochet Bunting – The WISH Big Project

learn to crochet triangles

Coming soon to St Helens!


We would like to invite you to join in with WISH as we undertake our second BIG PROJECT. (You may remember that our last Big Project involved us knitting a 140ft scarf which raised hundreds of pounds for charity and earned us a place on Ross Noble’s TV show – In case you have been hidden under a rock, click here for more information).

Anyway, back to our next project.

We are aiming to crochet triangles to make huge bunting.


We will unveil the bunting at the St Helens 10K in March 2014 which gives us approx 3 months to get it finished.

We would like people of all ages and abilities to get involved. If you don’t know how to crochet, we will be holding small workshops in the New Year.


How to make a crochet triangle by Attic 24

How to make a crochet triangle by Attic 24



The pattern and tutorial we are suggesting to follow when crocheting your triangles is here at Attic 24 (Tutorial and Pictures used with permission from Lucy at Attic 24). You will notice from the pictures how fabulous bunting can look – we want St Helens to be a blaze of colour in March. Let’s spur those runners on – We believe some of our own ladies are also in training for the event. Go girls!

What you need: 4mm crochet hook & DK (Double Knit) Yarn.

How Big are the triangles? Each side should measure approximately 18cm/7in.

What colour should the triangles be?
Any colour at all – They can be multicoloured, plain or decorated with fancy brooches so you can pick your own out – We will have a Crochet-o-meter to keep check on how many triangles we are up to.

I’m interested but don’t know how to crochet
If you would like to sign up for one of our workshops, please email wisthelens@gmail.com

Hope we get as many triangles as this!

Hope we get as many triangles as this!

How will it raise money for charity?
A number of people have asked how they can incorporate this into a fundraising activity – We are happy for you to ask family and friends to sponsor you per triangle. Any proceeds are going towards the Steve Prescott Foundation. Sponsorship forms can be downloaded at THE WISH BIG PROJECT – CROCHET BUNTING. If you don’t want to get sponsored that is fine too, just take part for the fun!

Do I have to be a member to take part?
This challenge is not just open to W.I.St.Helens ladies – Feel free to spread the word. The more people that take part, the better. We are inviting community groups and schools to take part too.

Where do I go for more information/What address do I send my finished triangles to?
For more information and the address to send your triangles to please contact wisthelens@gmail.com



the fabulous crochet bunting

fiona cassells - February 17, 2014 - 8:32 am

they look wonderful! could they be turned into blankets afterwards the ljnus project is always looking for children’s blankets

WIADMIN - March 10, 2014 - 12:42 pm

Thanks for your suggestion Fiona – We have previously raised awareness for the Linus project so are familiar with it. We do look for various opportunities to use our crochet/knitting projects so will definitely bear this in mind x

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Book Club – 18th September 2013

This month we discussed Sophie Hannah’s Little Face, her first psychological thriller featuring Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer. A novel which some of us at first, thought was set in America from the descriptions of the grand house and health club. It transpired that the drama was to unfold in the leafy suburbia of south England. Not wanting to to give away any spoilers, here is the blurb:

When Alice Fancourt returns home after having been out for the first time without her two-week-old daughter Florence, she insists that the baby she finds at home, in the care of her husband David, is not their daughter but a child she has never seen before. David denies it, claiming that the baby is Florence and that Alice has gone mad. Is she crazy, or is David lying, and if so, why would he do such a thing? And where is the real Florence? Alice has no proof, but she needs the police to believe her, and quickly. While they wait for the DNA test that will settle the matter, valuable time is being lost, and David’s behaviour towards Alice becomes increasingly threatening and sinister. Can Alice make the police listen to her before it’s too late?

It was a clever and sinister novel with lots of twists and counter twists to keep you guessing until the end.

Sophie is talking about her books this Thursday 26th September, 7,30pm at Central Library, St Helens. An opportunity to hear about her thrillers and also her new commission by the Agatha Christie estate to write a new Hercule Poirot novel.

The second book we discussed was The White Woman on a Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey. Set in Trinidad, it had an engaging back to front plot and was an insightful glimpse into the history and turmoil of a country breaking free from colonial rule and finding it’s way to democracy. The backdrop of the changes and unrest were mirrored in the lives of the main characters and Roffey admits that her own mother was the inspiration of the woman riding around on her green bicycle. If that sounds a bit too dry and serious then the blurb brings alive the story by billing it as an unforgettable love story:

An unforgettable love story, brimming with passion and politics, set over fifty years in Trinidad – a place at times enchanting, and at times highly dangerous . . .

When George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England as young newlyweds, they have with them just a couple of suitcases and Sabine’s prized green bicycle. Their intention is to stay for not more then three years, but George falls in love with the island. Sabine, however, is ill at ease with the racial segregation and unrest in her new home, and takes solace in the freedom of her green bicycle.

George and Sabine become more entangled in their life on the island – in all its passion and betrayals – and Sabine’s bicycle takes her places she wouldn’t otherwise go. One day George make a discovery that forces him to realise that extent of the secrets between them, and is seized by an urgent, desperate need to prove his love for her – with tragic consequences.

The third book was Simon Mawer’s The Girl who Fell From the Sky. Unfortunately only one member had read this book, but she did recommend it. Although it was not a particularly easy read it was thought provoking and worthwhile.

Barely out of school and doing her bit for the war effort, Marian Sutro has one quality that marks her out from all the others – she is a native French speaker. It is this that attracts the attention of the curious Mr Potter who calls her to an interview in an anonymous office in London. Potter is a recruiting officer for the Special Operations Executive, which trains agents to operate in occupied Europe. So it is that Marian finds herself undergoing commando training, attending a school for spies, and ultimately, parachuting from an RAF bomber into the South-West of France to join the WORDSMITH resistance network.

However, there is more to Marian’s mission than meets even the all-seeing eyes of the SOE. Before long a friend from the past returns and it soon seems that Marian could hold the key to the future of the whole war effort. A fascinating blend of fact and fiction, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is an old-fashioned adventure about a woman who did the most extraordinary things when the ordinary was not enough.

We were rather low on numbers this month, with only 3 members attending book club. For the next discussion on Wednesday November 20th we’ve chosen a couple of lighter books, which we hope will appeal to more of you. They have both been chosen for the Richard and Judy Autumn reads list too, so should be easily available in the usual 2 for 1 outlets.

The first is by the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Deborah Moggach, her latest novel Heartbreak Hotel

After the far-flung charms of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Deborah Moggach moves to the Welsh countryside in her hilarious new comedy. When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. In possession of a run-down B&B that leans more towards the shabby than the chic and is miles from nowhere, he realises he needs to fill the beds – and fast. Enter a motley collection of guests: Harold, whose wife has run off with a younger woman; Amy, who’s been unexpectedly dumped by her (not-so) weedy boyfriend and Andy, the hypochondriac postman whose girlfriend is much too much for him to handle. But under Buffy’s watchful eye, this disparate group of strangers find they have more in common than perhaps they first thought…

The second book is The Husband’s Secretby Lianne Moriarty.

From the author of the critically acclaimed What Alice Forgot comes a breakout new novel about the secrets husbands and wives keep from each other.

My Darling Cecilia
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died . . .

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all – she’s an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia – or each other – but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s devastating secret.

If you have any comments or questions about any of the books or the book club then please leave them below.

Happy Reading!


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Book Club – 17th July 2013 – Jackie Kay – Red Dust Road

After a break for the Book Club since March, we had a lot to discuss at our last meeting. Eight members met to discuss Red Dust Road, a memoir by Jackie Kay. The book description sums it up eloquently:

A heart-warming book that answers the question: how do you define “family”?

Once, as a small child, she realizes that her skin is a different color from that of her beloved parents, Jackie Kay embarks on a complicated and humorous journey to treasure the adoptive family that chose her, track down her birth parents—her Scottish Highland mother and Nigerian father—and embrace her unexpected and remarkable life.

In a book shining with warmth, humor, and compassion, she discovers that inheritance is about more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells and that our internal landscapes are as important as those through which we move.

Taking the reader from Glasgow to Lagos and beyond, Red Dust Road is revelatory, redemptive, and courageous, unique in its voice and universal in its reach. It is a heart-stopping story of parents and siblings, friends and strangers, belonging and beliefs, biology and destiny, and love.

The overall consensus was that everyone enjoyed the book and and got a lot from it. The book described Jackie’s childhood as a mixed race adopted child in Scotland and her subsequent journey as an adult to find her birth parents. Jackie’s life hasn’t been an idyllic skip through childhood, she experienced lots of racism, passive and deliberate. However, her adoptive parents equipped Jackie with an amazing ability to see beyond lots of life’s disappointments. The humour and humility throughout the book is very humbling and I think the majority of us who read it felt we had gained a lot from it that will stay with us.

We briefly discussed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Stay Close from the previous cancelled meeting, it was a stretch for our memories to recall the two. The GLPPPS was well received and remembered fondly by those that had read it. Stay Close was a little less memorable. A good page turner, holiday read, but not one with a profound memorable story line.

We discussed lots of our recent good reads and settled on the summer read choices. If you would like to join in the next discussion on 18th September we are reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey and/or Little Face by Sophie Hannah. If anyone is up for a third bonus option at the request of some of the super fast readers we also thought The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Simon Mawer looked like a good read.












Next meeting: Wednesday 18th September, 7.30 pm Pavilion Bar, Ruskin

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WISH Theatre Trip: Hairspray at Liverpool Empire

Our most recent theatre trip was to see Hairspray at The Liverpool Empire. One of our members, Sarah has kindly written us a brilliant review of the night. Over to you, Sarah:

The trip to the Empire Theatre to see Hairspray was a nice evening out. I had seen bits of the film years ago so had an idea what the story was. Basically it’s set in 1962 hence the big hair and the need for lots of hairspray!

The main character is teenager, Tracy Turnblad who is pleasantly plump, is friendly with everyone, regardless of the colour of their skin, and she also loves to dance! She and her friend Penny Pingleton rush home from school every day to watch their favourite TV programme, the Corny Collins Show, which has an ‘all white’ cast.

The girls find out that there are going to be auditions for the chance to dance on the show so Tracy goes along. Not only does her fab dancing attract Corny Collins, but also the attention of teenage heart throb, Link Larkin. But not everyone is happy with the decision to have her dance on the show as she doesn’t have the same skinny figure as the rest of the dancers.

The shows manager, Velma von Tussle, played by Lucy Benjamin who is really good in this, will do anything to get Tracy off the show. Over the course of the two acts, Tracy and her friends triumph! Not only does Tracy get to be the main dancer on the show but her black friends get to dance too. Link Larkin also falls in love with Tracy so it’s a predictably happy ending!

The first act was a little slow for me but I thoroughly enjoyed the second act which had more action and better songs. The actress who played Tracy really did a great job portraying the character and she had a great voice. The actress who played Motormouth Maybelle had the most incredible voice and could really belt out a song, in particular “Big, Blonde & Beautiful”.

Without question though, the star of the show was Marcus Collins who played ‘Seaweed’, one of Tracy’s cool friends who could certainly ‘bust some moves’! He gave a fantastic performance both vocally and visually with his energetic dancing and jumping around. The whole cast got a standing ovation at the end.

So, all in all, a lovely evening out to watch a cheesy but enjoyable show. It wasn’t my favourite show of all those I’ve seen but it had the ‘feel good’ factor and left you with a smile!

Thanks Sarah – What a fabulous write up!

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