At our February meeting, the ladies of Snitterfield WI found themselves enveloped in clouds of perfume, strains of romantic music and the seductive voice of Frank Sinatra. Not your usual monthly meeting, you might say, but eminently suitable as St Valentine’s Day was drawing near.

Our committee had found a true artist in Barbara Shepherd, florist and flower arranger extraordinaire. She took as her theme ‘Flowers with Style’, a reflection of her own elegance as she guided her audience through the construction of her masterpieces. Starting with a small shopping bag and using a plethora of garden greenery – curled laurel leaves, fatsia and phormium – she cunningly added cerise carnations and pink rosebuds to create her tribute to ‘Pretty Woman’.

Her training began at 14 with an apprenticeship, then City & Guilds and a position in Birmingham’s Grand Hotel, creating two bouquets a day – everyone different – as she discovered her inspiration in music.

Effortlessly, she passed on tips and suggestions for our own arrangements as she teased eucalyptus leaves, blue/grey ivy, freesias, white rosebuds and sprays of carnations into a crescent moon, in an appreciation of the American Smooth dance in ‘Strictly’. Then, before our very eyes, she changed mood completely, with hyacinths, pussy willow, tulips, paper white narcissi and small tufts of skimmia, to the tune of ‘Country Gardens’, bringing Barbara’s inspiring demonstration to a beautiful conclusion.

Sadly, the meeting had started with the news that our WI notice board had again been vandalised. A pity, as our social secretary had a full programme of events to advertise throughout the year: cookery demonstrations, visits to festivals, celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday, bridge and skittles evenings, the annual barbecue and, rounding off the year, the popular Christmas Dinner.

However, the evening concluded with four lucky ladies (one of whom was about to celebrate her birthday) humming ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ as they carried away raffle prizes of expertly assembled floral arrangements.

Barbara Alcock