Talking with Pearl Evans, President of the Rochford WI (January 20th 2011)
For a lady in her late seventies, Pearl Evans must put many a younger woman to shame! Here’s a lady who doesn’t like sitting around but whose house abounds with patchwork, crochet, cooking and goodness knows what other craft-work (as well as cooking for forth coming competitions!) She’s a lady with an alert mind and apparently an amazing memory who is constantly on the go. Here is the first of two interviews with her - you’ll find the other one on the Fuchsia Society page)
Rochford Life: Pearl, you are a local person, I understand.
Pearl: Yes, I have lived in this area the whole of my life. I was born in Rochford hospital and we lived in Pagglesham until the day before the war broke out, and we moved to Gore Corner and we lived there until 1945 and then moved to Ashingdon Road and then in 1953 we moved into a Council house and that’s the first time we had water, electrics, gas everything. I was married in 1955 and then we moved here in Stambridge Road and eventually we were able to buy it. After my husband passed away I wanted things to do so joined Stambridge WI and that was about twenty five years ago, but that has now closed and so I joined Rochford WI and have been here since, and this year I was made president. I feel I’m really a bit too old to take it on but I thought I’d give it a year.
RL: So what does being President entail? What do you have to do?
Pearl: Well you have to run the hall, because the hall belongs to us, and you have to chair the meetings. We’ve got about thirty eight ladies at the moment. Once we had over a hundred but numbers go down over time and we’re mostly older ladies now. We’ve been going since 1922 so next year is our ninetieth year.
RL: I picked this up with the other group. Why is it do you think that there are few younger women?
Pearl: Well I think it is because so many younger women are working, though they have opened one at Westcliff and they have 170 members, of all ages. We have what is called a Spring Group meeting when all the local groups come together, which includes Pagglesham, Canewdon, Barling, Wakering, Shoebury. Different people host it every year. It’s our turn to host it this year and we’re going up to Ashingdon Memorial Hall and that is on the 14th April this year.
RL: Would you welcome lots of young people do you think?
Pearl: Oh yes, because we’ve got to keep it going. We own that Hall and if we fold up it goes to the Council
RL: So what do you, as a group of ladies, do as the WI?
Pearl: We have a programme of meetings –
we meet on the second Wednesday afternoon of the month at 2.15pm, with speakers, and we have a competition every month,
we have a craft afternoon on the 1st Wednesday of the month,
and we hold coffee mornings in the hall on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, plus the other Tuesdays if they haven’t been let for something else.
and we do some collecting for charities.
RL: And any ladies are welcome to all these?
Pearl: Oh yes, they can just come and pay a visitor’s fee and then if they want to join, they can join. Apart from the WI itself, we let out the hall to a large number of users. At the moment that includes folk dancing, Recycled Teenagers, an exercise group, the Allotment Society have got a quiz evening coming up, and people do their wedding parties and such like there.
RL: Well thank you, Pearl. Let me put your information on Rochford Life and who knows, it may generate some interest in the younger generation. Thank you again
Below is the Rochford W.I. 2011 Programme: