Alnmouth WI, March meeting

At the March meeting of Alnmouth WI, there was another good gathering of members and as our president and secretary had decided to have a forum on the question of committee for our coming year.

Business was quickly gone through, including up-and-coming events, and February’s minutes were made available to members to read at their leisure.

Each member of committee joined a table of WI members to discuss the various roles needed to keep our Institute vibrant and active and by the volume of chat lots of ideas were coming forward.

The main purpose was to ensure we had a president, secretary and treasurer as without these offices being filled, Alnmouth WI would have to close and after 95 years that is the last thing we want. Also of course, we need enough members on the committee to cover the other things that keep everything interesting and flowing which are pretty varied. All is not lost, however, as interest was shown from some members, so possibly something positive will come out of the ‘forum’ to save the day.

Our speaker for the evening kindly delayed her talk until the forum was ended, but she promptly walked in as it was finishing complete with her guide dog puppy and gave us a very interesting insight as to how it all started 100 years ago.

Ethne Brown is the lady’s name and she is first in line in the training process, taking the puppy at six weeks and beginning the education from the word go, always keeping it with her and training all the time. Ethne’s present dog in training Ferina lay motionless beside her throughout her talk and every dog owner present was extremely envious, especially when she mentioned, all her dogs go to the loo when told – which is pretty important really, given their owners have little or no sight!

The most prevalent guide dogs are German shepherds, and Labrador/retriever/poodle crosses, the latter particularly regarding allergy sufferers.

They are given their freedom of course to have a good run round, but are trained always to return at the call of their whistle, which they always do and as soon as their harness is back on, they are their owner’s right hand again. It’s amazing what they are trained to do, too numerous to mention in this report but anyone with a sight problem has their life changed on being given a guide dog.

Yvonne, our secretary, thanked her on our behalf for a wonderful talk and as Yvonne is now the owner of a Border terrier puppy, who can be naughty, she was especially interested.

Our evening ended with a cup of tea and much conversation regarding dog training and it seems everyone agrees, it takes perseverance and enormous patience which our speaker has in bundles. Before everyone headed home, Yvonne reminded everyone to get their tickets for our 95th anniversary celebration and, of course, not forgetting our AGM on April 8.

Our birthday girl this month was Celia Collinson, our programme secretary.