Alnmouth WI, May meeting

Members were warmly welcomed to the May meeting of Alnmouth WI by our new president, Janis Crook, and also Caroline Martin, a long-standing member, re-elected to secretary, and after an enthusiastic singing of our WI anthem Jerusalem, our meeting started.

The minutes were not read, but made available for members to read at their leisure.

Janis then went through all matters arising including this year’s vote on our resolutions, and on a show of hands, the Increasing of Organ Donation was unanimously carried, which will be voted for, on our behalf, by Howick WI, our representative at the agm of the NFWI at Leeds.

Correspondence was then read out by Caroline including all the many activities and workshops listed in the Northumbrian available to members.

Janis then introduced our new in-house fund-raising table towards our chosen charity which has previously been books, but is now going to be a sales table of a mixed variety donated by members.

Actually quite a few members brought their contributions to the meeting and it really was a delightful ‘allsorts’, which of course was of great interest when set up. Hopefully it will enable us to continue our support of whatever charity is chosen.

Our speaker for the evening, Sir Alan Craft, was by then waiting in the wings, so Janis introduced him and his chosen subject, The Man and his Legacy – the man being the late Sir James Calvert Spence, the county Professor of Child Health, who was actually born in Queen Street, Amble, in 1892 and indeed, Amble’s college proudly carries his name.

Sir James, who served as a medical officer in the First World War, being both in Gallipoli and the Western Front, returned after the war continued his medical path as a paediatrician working in both the RVI and Great Ormond Street concentrating particularly on diseases and disorders caused mostly by poverty and terrible living conditions, which only improved after the Second World War when there was more employment which improved living standards throughout the country.

Sir Alan enthralled us with his talk, mentioning he was actually a red-spot baby and as not everybody knew what a red-spot baby was, he explained.

In 1947, Sir James started a project, choosing 1,000 babies born between May and June, records being marked with a red spot and kept by their doctors for the next 50 years, to study their health and wellbeing over that time.

There has actually been a reunion of the red-spot babies on the 50th anniversary of the start of this programme, which was a great success with participants coming from all over the world.

We were absolutely fascinated as of course his talk was really interesting and full of good humour.

Barbara Galbraith, one of our new committee members, gave an excellent vote of thanks and the evening finished with a sell-out of the sales table, the presentation of a bouquet of flowers to our birthday girl, Pat Edwards, and of course a cup of tea and a choice of delicious traybakes baked by the committee.