Eastleigh Hedgehog Rescue

Tonight we were delighted to have Chrissy Russell from Eastleigh Hedgehog Rescue talk to us about her work with ingured hedgehogs.

Chrissy started by talking to us generally about the life of a hedgehog; starting from how they are born without prickles (and how quickly they come through!) to the many miles that they walk in an evening. Until tonight we had no idea that hedgehogs could swim!

We were all gobsmacked to hear just how much the hedgehog population has declined in the UK from around 35 million in the 1950s to just 0.5 million today! The most major decline has been between 2001 and 2011. Clearly there is a need for people to help this threatened species and Chrissy gave us a list of ways in which we can all help:

  1. plant a wild flower corner
  2. make ponds safe by providing a ramp so that they can get out again
  3. make a hole in fences to allow for a hedgehog highway through the garden
  4. remove litter and make rubbish safe before throwing it away e.g. crushing the opening of tin cans
  5. put out food and water (cat or dog food is good but bread, milk and mealworms must be avoided!)
  6. stop using chemicals in the garden especially slug pellets
  7. build a log pile or hedgehog house
  8. check areas before strimming
  9. check bonfires before lighting
  10. register with Hedgehog Street to become a hedgehog champion and find more information

Finally Chrissy finished by introducing us to some of the adorable hedgehogs that have been rescued and are making a full recovery thanks to the hard work of Eastleigh Hedgehog Rescue.

Thank you Chrissy for a lovely Zoom evening!


Zoom Family Quiz

As social distancing continues, this month the DHWI reached out to its members and their families by hosting a Zoom quiz night!

Tonight 18 households logged in and enlisted the help of their families (young, young at heart and four legged) to tackle a series of quiz questions whilst others set up new WhatsApp groups to confer with other DHWI members and form a socially distant team.

A huge thank you to our wonderful committee who kept us all entertained and our brains working hard with their large variety of questions. Lots of fun was had by all and the winners are looking forward to collecting their bottle of fizz when we can finally meet again!

Toni Kent – Poet

Having had to cancel our meeting last month due to the start of the COVID-19 lockdown we are back with a bang holding a laughter filled evening via Zoom! Despite the change to our usual “venue” and day our members were out in force to enjoy an uplifting evening together. It was great to see so many of our members embrace our Zoom event tonight! I think you will agree that it was a huge success and very enjoyable too.

Toni was a hoot and delighted us with entertaining stories from her life and made us giggle with her original poetry. Poet, author and profressionally funny compare, Toni brought us honesty and humor at a time we all needed it. Performing bits from her collection of poems I need a wife she had us laughing out loud despite us being sat home alone. After her unexpected rap I won’t be able to shop in Waitrose without tittering to myself!

Thank you for bringing us together and brightening our evening! We would love to have you back to entertain us in person once we’re allowed and lots of us are already looking into purchasing your book to get us through the rest of lockdown…

Toni has been described by June Sarpong MBE as “A phenomenal MC” and the Henley Standard as “Wickedly Funny” and now by us, the DHWI, as the antidote to social distancing!


Life as a Celebrant

Tonight we were lucky enough to yet again be entertained by one of our very own members, Jan, who shared with us her experiences as a celebrant.

We were delighted to welcome Jan and hear how she ended up becoming a celebrant, a little bit about her role, the sort of ceremonies that she can perform and of course the legal bit (or surprising lack of in some cases!). Having gained confidence to improve the public speaking roles that she needed in her job, she feel into working as a celebrant; now officiating over weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies. It was fascinating to hear about a wide variety of wedding services (including a fastening) and how she has even managed to hold a joint wedding and naming ceremony. We were all shocked to hear that there are no legal requirements for funerals and if you’re ever thinking of what song you want as your parting tune… well anything goes…!

Thank you very much Jan for a thoughly enjoyable and incredibly interesting evening.


What a way to start the year! Tonight we kicked off 2020 with a bang with a session of Zumba Gold! Silvia from Salsa y Sol visited us back in 2009 when our WI first started and gave us a terrific Salsa session. It seemed only right that we invite her back now, having celebrated our 10th birthday, for some Zumba.

We may not have all been in time, going in the same direction or on the correct foot but Silvia kept us all going with her infectious smile and a lot of fun was had by all. So much so that lots of us left with her Zumba leaflet and I even heard talk of some members starting a WhatsApp group to organise impromptu Zumba sessions. So lovely to hear! Our WI has always been great for forging friendships.

If Zumba wasn’t a healthy enough start to the year our members running the pop-up café this evening got us in the Veganuary spirit with Vegan milk and cake options too. Delicious thank you!

Festive Florals – with a twist!

Twas the night of WI and all through the hall was candles and foliage and we were having a ball!

It’s that time of year again; time to enjoy our usual Festive Florals… with a twist! Tonight our members were busy not only producing a glorious array of festive floral centrepieces but some impressive decorative candles too. Everyone who attended had a great time and left with something beautiful that they had created.

Thanks to an excellent suggestion from one of our members we had some added fun with a Christmas sock raffle as well. Members filled festive socks with treats that were then raffled off so that everyone went home with a little extra treat! Lots of fun was had by all!

Merry Christmas everyone!



10th Birthday Party: Hula Hooping

Happy Birthday DHWI!

On Wednesday we all had a lot of fun celebrating our 10th birthday by hula-hooping the night away! Claire Saunders from Globe Fit got us all up and moving around regardless of our experience, ability or mobility. She started by showing us how to hula-hoop using our arms before moving on to our waists. None of us realised that there were so many different ways to spin a hula-hoop and we all enjoyed trying out our new moves!
Claire then treated us to a demo of her hula-hooping tricks and skills to music before we all had a chance to practice our own expertise. Laughter ensued and despite lots of out of control hoops we went home beaming but not bruised. This all went very nicely with a delicious sponge birthday cake and the Prosecco certainly helped too!
An extra special thank you goes out to our founding members; Jane, Louise, Ros, Beverly, Katy and Jackie, without whom we would not be able to celebrate a decade of the Disparate Housewives WI. It made the evening having you cut the cake for us. Thank you.
Here’s to the next 10 years!

Sandra Simmonds – Life after Iran

This evening we were delighted to welcome back Sandra Simmonds who has been telling us all about her life as the wife of an Iranian.

Sandra last visited us in 2014 and so she started by giving us a quick recap of her previous talk, and then went on to tell us about the experiences she has had since then. What a rollercoaster life she has had! Unable to return to Iran as the situation had become too perilous she struggled to make the relationship with her husband work and so she eventually made the hard decision to divorce her first husband and start life again as a ‘normal’ western lady.

Boy has she had to overcome some challenges with relationships, bereavements and other crises but she was an inspiration explaining that sometimes things had pulled her down to rock bottom, but she always managed to get back up again. She explained how her family were vital in her recovery, her father even training her for a marathon! It was fascinating to hear that she more recently has been working with a bereavement charity to help others and will soon be doing her talks on the cruise ships.

What a lovely lady; a real inspiration!

Denise Ryan; Stunt Woman

Tonight we had a fantastic evening listening to Denise Ryan tell us all about her life as a female stunt woman. From a simple beginning as a high board diver and excellent swimmer she has blazed a trail (quite literally at times having been set on fire!) through cinema and TV screens.

Denise has had a very varied career from performing as part of a circus, stunts on huge blockbuster films and doubling for some famous faces on well loved TV shows such as Vera. It was great to hear how the UK was paving the way globally in protecting its stunt artists by using Stunt Co-ordinators on every set to look after its performers; a role that Denise is also now proud to do.

We learnt about how much training stunt artists have to do in the UK before they are allowed onto the British Stunt Register and all about how some of the stunts are done. Having heard about some of her daring stunts we were also treated to her list of injuries and brakes!

Thank you Denise for a thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Women of Winchester Tour – part 2

After the success of our Women in Winchester Tour last year we ventured out of our usual village in to begin where we left off! Tonight we met outside Winchester Cathedral and were treated yet again to over 2000 years of fascinating history on a guided tour from our Winchester tour guide Kate.

We learnt all about the remarkable origins or Alcoholics Anonymous as well as The Square in Winchester and where the Eclipse Inn got it’s name. Just like last year Kate tailored her tour to include a few women from Winchester and so we heard of the demise of Alice de Lisle and how the Manor of God Begot was gifted to Queen Emma.

We finished our tour up at the castle and so of course had to end with a little history of the round table! A huge thank you to Kate for another wonderful tour. Before the curfew clock could chime it was time for us to sally forth and head home; cooled by the warm summer rain.