‘A Second Bite of the Cherry!’ With such a title for a talk one might be forgiven for being a little confused: whatever could it mean? Chris Sidgwick, friend and sometime colleague of Ann Farr, came to tell us of her career as a midwife, first in her youth and then as a mature and highly experienced advisor.

Born in the north-east of England, this tomboy with a good singing voice always wanted to be a nurse – fascinated by the gory medical books she read. Her father, however, had different ideas and she found herself making tea in a solicitor’s office and learning shorthand and typing three nights a week. It was a wonderful accomplishment but it was short-lived for, by the age of sixteen, she was able to become a nursing cadet and was on the ladder which resulted in her success by the age of twenty-one.

The serious business of nursing was unable to dampen her sense of fun and we were treated to reports of a number of hilarious incidents, particularly the discovery of a fire in a hospital bathroom. The result was a visit from the fire brigade which was not allowed to interrupt the doctor’s rounds of the wards. Doctor in the House was no exaggeration!

Marriage, the birth of children and the upheavals of moving house brought Chris to Leamington in 1974, where she was at last able to train as a midwife, with Ann as her tutor. By 2003 she had held a number of senior posts and was about to retire gracefully when she was persuaded that Scotland needed her to review the midwifery services and produce a DVD as part of a project advising teenage mothers. This ‘second bite of the cherry’ proved intensely satisfying and her work for the NHS Care Quality Commission will be not only professional but laced with humour, as WI members discovered.

Over tea and, yes, those delicious cakes, we heard that, in a ballot, Pauline Brace has been invited to a Royal Garden Party, so we shall look forward to receiving her impressions. Also, Tom Shepherd is to run a painting course for watercolours and acrylics on Tuesday mornings in the village hall. More details to be published as soon as they are finalised.

Barbara Alcock