MARCH MEETING OF THE STRADBROKE W.I.
As usual we opened with an excellent rendering of Jerusalem followed by some general business. Gill announced that Pat Marlow had been a winner of £50 in the 200 club draw and that Prue had won first prize of a £100 M&S gift voucher at the AGM at Trinity Park , lucky us .Dorothy then gave a full report on that meeting which had several excellent speakers the main one being Graham Walton father of the Liverpool sextuplets . Graham told us of his life in a house with 7 women, the trials the joys and the downright hard work involved in bringing up such an extraordinary family.
Next Gill felt it was a good time, as we have several new members, to have a quick update on the various clubs that run within our W.I. Rose Tomson told us about the book club, Dorothy Readman enthused over the joys of circle dancing ,well we all go round in circles at times but the W.I do it to music, Pat Marlow explained about the lunch club and the fun trips to the pub for some lovely grub and finally Gill Bird invited all to come and try the Kurling club where stones may be thrown to help release stress, well stones can be slid if that is correct grammar but the effect is the same . All are welcome to try or join these groups so join the W.I there is a lot on offer.
On display was a beautiful cot quilt made by Dorothy Readman as an entry for the Suffolk Show, we were all impressed and congratulated Dorothy on her lovely work . Good luck it should do well. Our hostesses were thanked, birthday buttonholes presented then we settled down to listen to our speaker for the evening.
Ruth Miller had come to talk to us about the Foundling Hospital which was founded by Thomas Coram in the early 18th century for the care of babies born into impossible poverty to mothers of previously good reputation but who would be unable to care for their babies in the society that ruled at the time. Ruth ,herself a Foundling gave us a graphic description of the severity of the regime that the Foundlings were subjected to which although by her time was more enlightened than at its genesis was still very sparse and strict , very clean but completely segregated from the boys and most of the time from the public. Initially the children were taught to read but not write but it was soon realised that the ability to do both would help them in future employment and not necessarily make them think of themselves above their station in life!! We cringe to think of it now. The Hospital had many famous sponsors such as the artists William Hogarth and Thomas Gainsborough who were repaid by having their works displayed for public view in a gallery at the Hospital. Charles Dickens was also a sponsor and governor of the Hospital and it is thought that Oliver Twist was based on the Hospital and characters found there. Famously G.F. Handel was also a governor and introduced music for the foundlings particularly the boys who frequently went as musicians into the army .The second ever performance of the Messiah was performed at the Hospital Chapel and has been a classic ever since then. As finances became tighter the Hospital moved out of London into Redhill in Surrey, plenty of open spaces for the children to exercise in. No children were admitted after 1950 and the last foundling left in 1954. There is a book that can and probably should be written about this place for the good intentions but harsh ways of caring for these children, but I have squeezed just a little of the history into this report, there is so much more to this story and we thank Ruth for her honesty and congratulate her on finding her way through to become a qualified nurse and health visitor and raising her own family in her happy home, they must have done something right.
A vote of thanks from Joan and we retired to the refreshment table for a good chat about all that we had learned ,thanking our lucky stars for our own good fortune.
Our next meeting will be on April 12th when Don Darling will speak to us about ice cream making, watch out for the refreshments that night !! Do come and try us for size ladies, all very welcome.