Portaferry members keep in touch during Covid lock-down

Despite not physically meeting due to Covid restrictions, Portaferry WI have been keeping in touch with members.

Trauma teddies
Trauma teddies
Trauma teddies

Each month they held a Zoom meeting on their usual meeting night.

Although not all members were able join in, those who did appreciated having a chat and seeing other faces. The WI also kept in touch by sending out a letter to members each month.

In January the members discussed Climate Change and were informed that the Home and Gardens Committee had suggested that members plant a tree or trees. They applied to the Woodland Trust, and were delighted to be given 300 native Irish deciduous trees free of charge to be distributed to their members. They collected the trees from the Clandeboye Estate in Bangor and distributed them - a mixture of oak, rowan, hazel, dewy birch, silver birch, alder and cherry fruit trees. The cherry trees are specially grown in Northern Ireland to thrive in our climate and members are reliably told that the cherries are delicious!

Maureen Emerson
Maureen Emerson
Maureen Emerson

Last year Portaferry WI hoped to celebrate their 85th anniversary in various ways, including a special celebratory dinner in The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn. Portaferry is the second oldest WI in Northern Ireland that still meets. Due to Covid restrictions, they postponed some of the celebrations until this year, but have had to postpone them again.

Some of the members joined together with Spa WI by Zoom in February, when the subject was “The History of Underwear”. The competition for the evening was the most unusual piece of underwear and members are delighted to report that one of the Portaferry ladies, Muriel Smyth, was the competition winner with her bottom enhancer!

In March they sent members a packet of wildflower seeds to bring some cheer in the spring and summer. They were from a selection specially chosen by the Royal Horticultural Society as being “perfect for pollinators” to attract butterflies and bees.

Members have been knitting trauma teddies and twiddlemuffs, some of which have been donated already, and others will be donated when it is safe to do so. The trauma teddies are donated to the PSNI, who hand them out to young children who are involved in a trauma of any sort. The photograph shows Portaferry WI President Sandra Marshall handing over 34 trauma teddies to Sgt Brian Shankey at Newtownards PSNI Station. The twiddlemuffs are donated to care homes that care for people with dementia. Portaferry WI are grateful to their members who have been working hard on these. They have also been busy knitting small animals for the Balmoral Show, which they hope can be used at the show in 2022.

Trauma teddies are presented to the PSNI
Trauma teddies are presented to the PSNI
Trauma teddies are presented to the PSNI

In May the ladies met over Zoom and welcomed a Scottish speaker, Mrs Margaret Mackay, who is a member of Corstorphine Scottish Women’s Institute and was previously Chairman of the SWI. Margaret spoke about the Great Tapestry of Scotland. This is a linear pictorial history of Scotland depicting key events going back 12,000 years, stitched by over 1,000 people. Battles, inventions, literary figures and industry are just some of the pictures on the tapestry, which is one of the world’s longest. Members very much enjoyed Margaret’s talk and her accompanying PowerPoint showing parts of this magnificent work. If anyone wishes to view the tapestry, it will be displayed in a visitor centre in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders.

On 1st July, the Institute members were delighted to meet in a large church hall where they could be socially distanced. The speaker was Maureen Emerson, a member of the Institute, who gave a very interesting talk on the new crafts she had learned during lockdown. Having collected driftwood from the beach beside her house, Maureen decided to make some boats, pictures and gifts from the driftwood. She also used buttons, along with various other “finds”.

Some plants were sold, a ballot was held and donations received totalling £102, which has been sent to the Balmoral Show fund at Federation House. It was great to see everyone again in person rather than on Zoom and members hope to continue meeting up in the autumn.