Alnmouth WI, Meeting

View of clouds over Church Hill in Alnmouth.
Picture by Jane Coltman
View of clouds over Church Hill in Alnmouth. Picture by Jane Coltman

Janis and Yvonne, our president and secretary, commenced with a warm welcome, thanking everyone for helping to make our Winter Warmer such a success.

The soups and fruit crumbles, all member made, went down extremely well and it was good to see so many WI members from Northumberland joining us.

Various events were covered, including a quiz at Shilbottle, an outing arranged by Pam Muggleton to Grainger Market in Newcastle on May 10, plus our informal coffee morning on March 23 at The Alnmouth Gallery. Our need for wonderful bakers to fill our stall at the first Alnmouth Food Festival on Sunday, April 9, was also mentioned.

As our next meeting is our annual meeting, Janis went through the proceedings for volunteers for officers and committee members, which will be supervised by a WI Adviser. We are having a pie and peas supper so that is something to look forward to.

Our speakers for the evening were Alan and Pauline Giles and Peter Cryer. Peter began his presentation of Press Gangs in the North East.

We learned what a cruel way of life it could be. Being on the coast, and as the local industry was fishing, this was the ideal area to forcibly take both old and young men who were experienced seamen to fight for their king and country without even a goodbye to their families.

Their wives were left to look after their children in any way they could, which probably meant the workhouse, with no hope in all probability of ever seeing their husbands or sons again.

Life aboard a Royal Navy ship must have been horrendous as discipline was extremely harsh, plus there were injuries and disease. Press gangs were legal as it was the only way they could get seamen.

Quite a bit of their tales were set to music as this is the way the story of their lives was passed on as most people were illiterate in the 18th century. It didn’t lessen the impact of how awful life was, but we did enjoy the music, played on guitar, flute and Northumbrian pipes.

We thanked Alan, Pauline and Peter for their excellent presentation and for coming from Newcastle.

We thoroughly enjoyed our cup of tea and delicious cakes, but did feel a bit guilty thinking how different our lives are now.

The birthday girl was Rosie.

Our next meeting will be our annual meeting. We look forward to seeing you.