THE first meeting of the year, and what a night! Torrential rain kept some away but sixteen members were welcomed by President Jan Dampney, apologies were taken, and the meeting began.

Members cheered themselves up with the announcement that the summer cream tea and walk had been booked for Wednesday, August 20, and that an educational outing to Blenheim Palace had been booked for December 3. This visit would be subsidised and the cost to members will be approximately £11 to include coach, house guided tour and tea and biscuits.

The recent Book Club meeting, hosted by Linda Handley, had been very well attended with some lively discussion. The next read is The Teardrop Island by Cherry Briggs – following in the footsteps of a Victorian eccentric on his travels in Sri Lanka.

Each year members have a post-Christmas Skittles match against their friends from Mathon WI. It was Cradley's turn to host this year and as ever what an enjoyable event. An excellent buffet was on offer and after an extremely close match, Mathon ran out the winners. Well done to them.

Details were given of a County outing to the National Opera & Philharmonic on April 5, where La Bohème was being performed at St David’s Hall, Cardiff.

2015 celebrates the Centenary of the WI and there is a baton relay passing from county to county. The baton is in Herefordshire fromSeptember 2-9. It will be received from Gwent and it will be passed to Worcestershire. There will be a meeting to discuss the route on March 11at Hampton Bishop Hall and Ros Rowberry will be attending.

The Lady Denman Cup Competition is a national competition and this year members are invited to write a poem What my WI means to me. Entries to be received by August 8.

The annual meeting of the Herefordshire Federation to include discussing the adoption of the new Articles of Association will be on May 19 and Jan will be attending.

Bosbury WI had invited members to attend their pancake lunch on March 4 - £5 a head beginning at 1pm. Please let Heather Hunaban know if you wish to attend.

The Treasurer reported that the stall held at the Christmas Fair had raised £131 and the amount raised at the Wine & Wassail was a very healthy £250. As members had done so well at the Wine & Wassail event Jan asked for a show of hands to ascertain if they would like to repeat this event in 2014. There was an overwhelming majority who supported this proposal.

February being birthday month, the lunch club would be meeting at Holloways on Thursday , February 13.

The annual Cradley Fete would be held on 12 July 12 and members were asked to sign up if they were willing to help.

A walk is being arranged, by Jan and Terry Hackling in memory of Jill Hackling on April 25. Any money raised would go between research into ovarian cancer and the Hospice that had helped Jill in her final days.

There is to be an outreach Post Office in Cradley Village hall two half days a week, hopefully starting at Easter. Members will be serving tea and coffee to any customers and members were asked if they would be willing to volunteer.

The speaker for the evening was Roger Pugh on the Life and Times of a Jester. Roger, aka Sylvester the Jester from Leicester, entertained members with jokes, and anecdotes about how he became a Jester. He told us how he became the official Jester for Leicester, of his travels busking his way around Europe and about the history of jesters. To complete the evening he led members in a number of songs from Medieval Ballads to Bob Dylan. Very enjoyable

The next meeting will be on March 6 when the speaker will be Dave Cole-Parsons - Changes in the Modern Police Force.