September 2013 WI meeting

Edington and Tinhead W.I Visitors and new members welcome.

Contact Helen ODonoghue 830501

Our September meeting started with a moment of silence in memory of Joy Byatt who died recently. Joy was a member of our W.I. for many years and a former President, as well as being an active member of other groups in the village.

We were pleased to welcome a new member, Tracy Miller and Laura, a visitor fromSan Francisco.

Our speaker this month was Hilary Reed from Guide Dogs For The Blind, who has been a puppy walker for 31 years and in that time had 39 dogs for their initial training. This training starts when a dog is seven weeks old and continues for its first year. In that time a dog learns to obey basic commands and becomes accustomed to the different environments it may experience in the future. Hilary gave us answers to questions a sighted person would never think to ask; for example: .How does a blind person manage to “poop scoop” ? The answer is the dog is trained “to go” before and after a walk! Look out for Hilary walking her dog up and down the open backed staircase at Angel Mill ; she told us how scary that type of stair can be for a dog at first. The modern guide dog story has its origins in the aftermath of the First World War when so many men returned from the Front blind from the effects of poison gas. A German doctor Gerhard Stalling started to explore the idea of training dogs to help the men. The first guide dog schools in the modern sense were set up inSwitzerlandin 1928.  In 1931 the first four British dogs completed their training and three years later The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association was founded. Today the organisation has its headquarters at Leamington Spa, where about 1900 puppies a year are bred. Dogs go here at about one year old for their final training. The centre is now the leading trainer and breeder of dogs in the world. If a dog is not suitable for working with the blind, for example it may be too quick; it may be trained for other work such as a police sniffer dog or working as a medical detector dog; with someone who has epilepsy or diabetes. The most common breeds of dog used are:Labrador, German shepherd and retrievers. Currently there are about 4,700 working dogs in theU.K.It was clear to see how enthusiastic and committed Hilary is and we thanked her for an interesting and lively talk.

During the break we had the opportunity to admire our winning entry from the Village Group category at The Produce Show, held on September7th. The theme was Fairy Tales and our combination of cake, handicraft and flowers was an ethereally beautiful concoction; we thanked its creators: Sarah Killian, Sarah Marshall and Karen Wright for their hours of hard work.

Forthcoming events include lunch at The Daggers on October 15th; a fund raising lunch with raffle and sale at The Parish Hall on November13th and a trip to the Christmas Market and theatre inBath in late November [to be confirmed]

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday October 8th when the speaker will be Win Quincey from Bat Rescue. Do come along if the topic interests you.

Helen ODonoghue