IF YOU’RE going to a talk entitled “benefits, brass and the girtest, grandest day” and you haven’t been told of the subject matter, please don’t read on.

However, the members of Chipping Sodbury WI now have the knowledge.

Mr Philip Hoyland gave an enthusiastic talk on individual, local, friendly, or benefit, societies which were formed from the end of the 18th century.

By the beginning of the 20th century there were six million members countrywide, with assets of over £40 million.

Mr Hoyland’s description of the celebratory annual meetings and processions throughout villages was enhanced with his collection of brasses which were issued to members and displayed atop of coloured poles, denoting individual groups.

The ladies of Chipping Sodbury established their Friendly Society of Females on May 31, 1814 and met on the first Wednesday of the month in the Royal Oak pub.

Joint President Pauline Winterbottom had welcomed members and visitors to the March meeting and a number of members received birthday buttonholes; two were celebrating “milestone” birthdays and received plants to mark the occasion.

Both our skittles and darts teams are now out of the Avon competitions but there’s always next year.

Names were taken for our skittles social evening and buffet on March 16 and there were still spaces on the coach to Oxford on May 15. Activities in April will include our first craft group meeting on the Thursday 20 and a visit to the Emersons Green Treatment Centre on the Wednesday 26.

Tickets were on sale for the group meeting on April 4 at Hawkesbury Upton, and there’s to be a home produce stall at our next meeting on Thursday, April 6, when members take to the catwalk for a fashion show organised by M & Co.

Visitors are warmly welcomed; we meet at 7.30pm on the first Thursday of the month in Chipping Sodbury Town Hall.