The eight Institutes of Slemish Area held their annual meeting on Thursday, April 19th in Cullybackey College.
Area chairman, Diane Murdoch of Broughshane WI welcomed everybody including guest speaker, Michelle McDaid of Air Ambulance Northern Ireland, Councillor Audrey Wales, the former Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and the chairman of the Federation of Women’s Institutes for Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Warden who was accompanied by her husband, Alex.
Audrey Wales brought greetings from the Council and Elizabeth Warden brought greetings from Federation House.
The platform party consisted of Institute members who hold posts of responsibility in the area for the year 2017-2018: Area executive member, Sophia Maybin, area chairman, Diane Murdoch, Area secretary, Isabel Halliday, area treasurer, Yvonne Crabbe and Eileen Mol who serves on the arts sub-committee.
It was an evening when talented ladies were rewarded for their efforts.
Some members had already received awards at the March WI AGM at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast.
In the arts, Anna Murphy of Kells and Connor WI won the Aileen Chapman Trophy for a poem written by a WI member, Eleanor Mc Ilroy of Cullybackey WI won the Moorcraft Salver for her painting and Marie Mewha of Kells and Connor WI won the Unnetta Burrell cup for best costume in a sketch and also the North West Drama Trophy for the best moment of theatre at the recent drama festival.
In craft, Elizabeth Patterson of Broughshane WI won the Eileen McCoubrey Cup for Traditional White Embroidery, and Anne Johnston of Glarryford WI was awarded the Seapark Trophy for best entry by a newly enrolled member.
Other ladies won special homecraft awards: Sandra Patton, Glarryford WI deserves a special mention for receiving her full circle for completing 24 crafts to a very high level.
Eleanor McIlroy, CullybackeyWI received her gold award for completing 12 crafts and Hilary Smith and Anne Johnston, both Cullybackey WI received silver awards for completing three crafts.
All of these awards were presented by Elizabeth Warden who also presented the following ladies with ribbon awards: From Broughshane WI Diane McCaughey, Anne McMaster, Elizabeth Patterson, May Adams, Iris McFetridge and Pat Hayes. From Cullybackey WI Hilary Smith, Eleanor McIlroy and Kathleen Kennedy received Ribbon awards as did Elizabeth McLeister, Sandra Patton Ivy Ross, Anne Johnston and Margaret Murray-Tait from Glarryford WI and Maura Ellis and Phyllis Currie from Kells and Connor WI.
Reports were given by Eileen Mol of the Arts sub-committee, and Diane Murdoch of the home and garden sub-committee, while Sophia Maybin gave the Balmoral, homecraft, international, magazine and leisure and Federation reports.
Joan Stephenson, Cullybackey WI, was congratulated on winning the area bowls competition but was unable to take part in the Northern Ireland final.
Rosemary Bell of Kells and Connor WI was thanked for taking her place in the final.
The area quiz was won by Ahoghill WI and their team of Liz Gardiner, Yvonne Reid and Alma Suthers were given best wishes for the NI final held in Hillsborough in May.
Area competitions won at the meeting were the Baking competition won by Randalstown WI who received the Ballymena council vase, the Craft competition won by Kells and Connor WI who received the Ahoghill WI Salver, and flower arranging won by Gracehill and Galgorm WI who received the Ruth Orr trophy.
The Institute who scored most points in these competitions was Randalstown WI and for this they received the Jane Black trophy.
Paddy Loughridge was thanked for judging these competitions and photographer Darren Crawford was thanked for judging the photograph competition “Beside the Seaside” which was won by Randalstown WI and they received the Wexford International Vase.
Eileen Mol who is retiring from the arts sub-committee after six years’ service was presented with flowers and a gift by executive member Sophia Maybin.
She recounted that she had always had an interest in the arts and had first become involved 40 years ago.
She had greatly enjoyed her six years on the arts sub-committee and wished her successor good luck.
Diane Murdoch introduced the guest speaker, Michelle McDaid from Air Ambulance NI.
She explained that Northern Ireland before 2017 was the only part of Western Europe which didn’t have an air ambulance.
It took 12 years of trying before this was set up.
The ambulance went into service in July 2017 with the intention of being able to save 18-50 lives a year.
Up until last week it had been out 330 times. It carries a doctor, a paramedic, the pilot and a lot of equipment and can carry one patient.
It is based at the Maze near Lisburn and can reach the furthest part of Northern Ireland in 25 minutes.
It costs £5,500 per day to provide the service so the organisation needs financial support and even voluntary help.
Michelle was thanked by Diane and presented with a gift and also a cheque for £703 for the Air Ambulance Service, which was the proceeds from the area Christmas carol service hosted by Kells and Connor Institute.
A raffle was held and then the audience was entertained by the Area WI choir who sang three pieces.
Rosemary Frayne, Gracehill and Galgorm WI gave a comprehensive vote of thanks to everyone who had helped make the evening a success.
Diane said Grace and in true WI style everyone sang The Countrywoman’s Song.
Everybody then enjoyed a welcome supper served by Gracehill and Galgorm WI.