Smisby Women's Institute
Smisby WI was founded in 1934 and we celebrated our 80th anniversary in 2015. A short history is available via the history page. The national WI organisation celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2015. Smisby is a member of the Derbyshire Federation, and the DFWI celebrated its centenary in 2018.
Smisby WI are a very friendly institute and meet on the third Thursday in the month in various locations.
Currently membership has risen to 60, so at the moment new membership is restricted to Smisby residents. We have a varied programme with a speaker at most meetings.
Tea Gowns and Tea Time with the History Wardrobe.
After a long postponement, due to Covid resrtrictions, Smisby WI finally welcomed Lucy Adlington from the History Wardrobe to afternoon tea.
Julie, the Chairman, welcomed the 44 Smisby WI members and 30 guests from neighbouring WIs. They all enjoyed the scrumptious tea provided by the WI committee under the direction of Secretary, Suzanne. Menus for each table had been designed and made by Hazel.
Lucy, owner of History Wardrobe, specialises in dress history, with a particular interest in Edwardiana and the 1940s. She gave a very amusing, expert and entertaining talk about 1940's ladies fashions.
She is also an author and was very excited to tell members that her latest book, "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz", had made it onto the New York Times best sellers list. Information about her other presentations and books can be found on the History wardrobe web site.
Some pictures of the events can be seen below
Owls at Rosliston Thursday 23rd September 2021
What an experience we had with the Owls at the Rosliston ARD Birds of prey.
Alice who has worked at the centre with the owls for many years and has now taken over the running of the business gave a wonderful display with owls flying across the room. We were allowed to have the owls on our gloved hands, hold the owls and even touch and stroke them.
Alices's father talked for the whole two hours telling us everything about the birds we were holding where they came from, their habitats, how they can hear a mouse's heartbeat, so much information!
A wonderful night and I'm sure we all ended the night a bit wiser about owls.
Tutbury Castle meeting Mary, Queen of Scots
On 4th September, thirty-four members met Mary Queen of Scots at Tutbury Castle, aka Lesley Smith. What a fantastic afternoon it was!
The surroundings of the castle and hall where we sat, plus the talk about Mary's childhood, marriages, and ultimate be-heading had us all riveted to our seats. Lesley's talk transported us back to the time of Mary's often tragic life, not a sound was heard until the applause at the end.
Because everyone who attended enjoyed the afternoon so much the committee are looking at inviting Lesley back to Smisby to do another one of her characters in the New Year, and later we will pay another visit to the castle.
85th Birthday Celebrations Thursday 15th July 2021.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic we like others were unable to celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and to have a family wake for loved ones who had passed away. This also applied to our 85th birthday celebrations which we would have had in July last year.
Lesley Smith the Chatelain of Tutbury Castle and historian was booked to give a talk on Peggy Knight a WW11 SOE spy in 2020. Lesley appreciated that everything had to be cancelled so with a heavy heart we decided to re-arrange the party for 2021 and hoped that it would be able to go ahead.
Restrictions were starting to be relaxed with more people being able to meet indoors as well as outdoors, the date was fixed, food arranged emails sent out and thirty-three members enjoyed a fantastic night with Lesley as Peggy Knight.
The evening started with Pimm’s or Bucks Fizz, and then Julie introduced our speaker for the evening.
Lesley, dressed in a green suite, snood and curled hair told us about the life of Peggy, who was born in Paris to a Polish mother and French father. Her first language was French and then English. The family moved to England where she worked for the Asea Electric Company as a shorthand typist. In the early spring of 1944, she was in a café and was overheard speaking French, she was immediately recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She was rushed through a two-week training course, during which she did one practise parachute jump from a static balloon and was then sent behind enemy lines in Vichy France to establish herself as a secret British courier with code name of Nicole. She crossed back and forth between battle lines several times carrying intelligence messages and information. She also participated directly in an attack by the French resistance upon a German military convoy. Peggy narrowly escaped capture and execution later in 1944 when she and a group of resistance fighters were betrayed by one of their number to the Nazis.
After the war for her wartime activities Peggy was awarded many British, French, and American honours, including and OBE the Croix de Guerre and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by the United States.
During the talk you could have heard a pin drop we were all so wrapped up in Peggy’s story, Lesley was emotional as was many of our members, a fabulous talk, finishing by singing happy birthday to ourselves and enjoyed sandwiches, and cupcakes that were made especially for our birthday.
A superb birthday meeting with many requests to have Lesley back to give another talk one day.