Alnmouth WI, September meeting


After such a lovely end to September, we had to don our winter clothes to tackle the cold winds from the North Sea to attend our October meeting. Not that it seemed to deter our members, plus some visitors interested in joining us, as there was a good turnout. We’re a hardy lot in our part of the world, weather is secondary to a good night out.

Our evening started with the usual warm welcome from Janis, our president, after which, she went through, together with Yvonne, our secretary, all outstanding matters and correspondence. The first was a reminder to members to add their name to the Bursary list in the hope that their name will be drawn as the lucky winner to go to Denman College. This was followed with a request for volunteers to help at the Winter Warmer, which will be on Wednesday, October 28, from noon to 2pm. Various other kinds of invitations were also mentioned.

Janis then put a very important issue to members . The floor of the Hindmarsh Hall is in dire need of replacement and were we in favour of helping financially with this project to the best of our ability as a WI? By a show of hands, it was unanimously agreed upon.

Actually, we would be homeless if the floor did cave in so there was no lack of enthusiasm to help fundraisel.

Following on from that, one of our members, who is also on the committee of the Hindmarsh Hall, took the opportunity of asking for volunteers to help with the catering, which the Hindmarsh Hall is doing as a fundraiser for the up and coming Wool Festival taking place on October 31.

Our speaker was all set up and ready by this time, so Janis introduced Susan Green of Proof of the Pudding and her side kick Carolyn, who presented us with an excellent evening.

Susan, a local girl and the daughter of the late councillor Hughie Philipson, started making puddings in her farmhouse kitchen at Heckley. As the mother of three boys plus running a busy farmhouse and holiday cottages, it was a huge undertaking. It was not a good time for farming then as this was during the awful foot-and-mouth disease period.

So it was that her pudding making company was launched. She started selling them on the farm stall at Alnwick Market.

She then began selling to local shops and businesses, delivered by whoever happened to be going in the direction of the order, including her father who was a willing helper. Now she is firmly established, selling puddings to quite a few well known food emporiums, her friends’ cars will not be smelling of delicious sticky toffee puddings any more.

She did have a slight problem at the start of her business, discovering she was pregnant and after already raising her first son, it was quite a shock, but like most unexpected additions to families it worked out and this now unexpected baby is 15 years old and has been a great asset in advertising, sitting in his high chair when a toddler, eating chocolate puddings.

Another big event in her life was Prince Charles arriving to see her ‘country business’ and as it all had to be kept a big secret, even from her staff, it was very difficult indeed as they did wonder when suddenly all this decorating and landscaping went on in the middle of continuing to make puddings.

His visit was a great success and he managed to have a good look round her kitchen, taste the puddings and chat to the staff.

It really was a good evening, especially when we all had large helpings of her delicious puddings, just to taste of course. Susan Ellis thanked her on our behalf for all the effort both Susan and Carolyn put in.

It was good to hear how she got started and made it the success it is today. Judging by the buzz around her sales table, I think many of us will be indulging in the lnwick Rum Christmas pudding on Christmas Day and perhaps dabbling in the sticky toffee and ginger puddings in between times.

Don’t forget our Winter Warmer will be on the October 28, from noon to 2pm in Hindmarsh Hall when we will be serving a choice of hearty soups and homemade crumbles for £5. We really look forward to seeing you then.