Year 2 of Living with Covid

At the start of 2021 things were looking slightly more positive. The vaccination programme was in full swing and it was hoped that life would return to normal within a few months. Unfortunately, that’s not how things quite worked out.

For the next few months, we continued to be entertained by excellent speakers at our monthly meetings via Zoom.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on the 8th March with a Zoom coffee morning and quiz and, at the March meeting, we were entertained by local artist, Kate O’Brien. Other speakers at our monthly meetings included the first female governor of Manchester’s Strangeways prison and a mental health social worker who led us through a meditation session. We were also entertained with the history of gin and a talk by members of the Garrick Theatre.

With the successful roll out of the vaccination programme and the lifting of some restrictions, the final Zoom monthly meeting was held in July and, in August 2021, we were able to hold our first face-to-face monthly meeting in eighteen months. This was a purely social event, attended by 33 of our members.

Our September speakers were Mel and Amanda from The Heatons Post, two inspiring women who are working to bring a sense of community to the area. The Heatons WI will continue to participate in events they organise as we endeavour to keep a high profile in the area.

Adrian Palmer, who joined us at our October meeting, entertained us with a Hilaire Belloc poem and an Arthur Conan Doyle short story entitled The New Catacomb.

November brought us our Annual Meeting.

We were very fortunate to be able to hold our Christmas lunch at the Wycliffe Hotel in early December as, shortly afterwards, a rise in cases of Covid began to hit the headlines and the Government introduced its Plan B, bringing further restrictions into force.

The Committee took the difficult decision to cancel the Christmas party and to revert to Zoom meetings until the early Spring. Quizzes and a bumper raffle were held at a Zoom party and, although we missed the Spanish evening arranged by the Programme Team, we had an entertaining evening.

Our various interest groups have done their best to keep going in various forms throughout the last year and a half, both through Zoom meetings and face-to-face meetings.

Despite the restrictions we have faced, we have been able to maintain a presence in the community and were proud to learn that at least two members of our WI had helped at Covid vaccination centres.

We continued to support Handy Ladies by baking goods on a weekly basis for those in self-isolation, the elderly, vulnerable and low/no income households within the Stockport area and a monthly collection of groceries for St. Martin’s Foodbank continued, which was supplemented by a collection of Easter eggs.

We joined the Friends of Heaton Moor Park at a small community event in August with a cake sale, raising £210 for our chosen charity, Henshaws and, in early September, we joined an eco-event at St. Paul’s church. Despite torrential rain, we had an enjoyable afternoon showing visitors to the stall how to make various crafts to highlight climate change awareness. Visitors were impressed to learn that the WI has always been in the forefront of environmental issues, including the Keep Britain Tidy resolution dating back to 1954.

A coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Support, organised with the help of members of the WI, was held in October at which £722 was raised.

Three of our members joined in the COP26 march in Manchester in early November to highlight environmental issues.

Wreaths were laid at St. John’s Church and at St. Paul’s Church on Remembrance Sunday.

It is now the start of February 2022 and national restrictions have been eased. The Omicron variant of the virus spread rapidly but appeared to be less severe than previous variants. The Committee will meet later this week to discuss how face-to-face meetings can be resumed in a safe and reassuring way. Other activities will start once again and, hopefully, we will be able to enjoy our enthusiastic and vibrant WI once more.

Sally S., Secretary, The Heatons WI, February 2022