Whitley WI visit the Amazon Fulfilment Centre

Manchester Airport, October 7th

19 members gathered in the car park and were met by a group of Amazon staff. Security was very tight. Once inside the building, one of 20 in the UK, we assembled in an upstairs reception room where we were introduced to our guide and his team.

We were each issued with a hi-viz waistcoat emblazoned with VISITOR and an individual intercom system. The intercom system was a very efficient way of each of us being able to hear what the guide was saying. 

We set off into the working part of the enormous building the size of 3 football pitches.  We were shown how the 1000s of items were sorted onto Tote, or black boxes, ready for packing. Every step of the way the extraordinarily complicated computer system kept track of all the items. If one of the humans omitted a step in the chain the computer pointed out their mistake and the process could not continue until it was put right.  We were shown how the robots moved the stacks round the warehouse. Silently, hundreds of tall yellow stacks loaded with people’s orders were moving without colliding with not a human to be seen from where we were standing although we had been told that there were 600 employees per shift.  Passing through the “Learning area” we learnt that employees are encouraged to follow further education and apprenticeships. Next was the packing department – once again computers giving the instructions. After being shown how it was done Chris Jones and Janet Patterson had a go with great efficiency.  It was then off to the dispatch department where the labels to destinations round the world were applied by machines using compressed air. Throughout the process every parcel reaching its correct destination depended on machines reading the bar code labels. Conveyer belts whirred quietly all through our visit as they moved the items along. There were a lot of questions from the fascinated members ranging from being an employee to the company carbon footprint. Each year they have a chosen charity which they support and some unfulfilled orders are sent to charity shops – two of our members have experience of this.   On our way out we all passed through a security camera as do all employees each time they finish their shift.   Our guide made our visit fascinating, informative and fun and gave us plenty to think about.

Member’s night meeting – 3rd October

This year’s member’s evening had a very “woolly” theme.

Our speaker Rosie Lee, the “Reluctant Shepherdess”, gave us a wonderfully energetic and humorous talk.

Many years ago her parents had bought a dairy farm which, after her dad died, had been tenanted out. When the tenants left, her mother challenged her to do something with the farm, and so her sheep farming adventure began; so different from her former banking career.

This involved a four year agricultural degree course in Countryside Management at Reaseheath College and the purchase of 20 shearling Shropshire sheep plus one ram. A good ram, she had heard, is worth paying a lot for; so this she did. It has to have a good physique with good strong back legs and apparently testicles with a circumference of 40cms would you believe!

With the many ups and downs of this new vocation, her family saw very little of her, starting in September with the breeding season and continuing right through to the weaning the following June.

With conservation and wildlife in mind she has grown an orchard of trees for the sheep to graze around. She specifically chose Shropshire sheep because they don’t eat the bark of trees.

Students from Reaseheath on work experience have built fences for her, and she very much enjoys having groups of schoolchildren visit her farm. Over the years her flock has increased and she never fails to be fascinated by the personalities and behaviours of her sheep. She now wonders if her son will follow in her footsteps.

After her talk we had tea and a quiz about wool. The quiz winner was Liz.

The competition “Something made of wool” was won by Jen with her “Lambs in a photo frame”. Second was Janet with her jumper and third was Mary with a pair of slippers.

Many thanks was given by Chris to Anne, Sue and the rest of this year’s member’s committee for a fantastic evening.

Much Ado about Nothing


Groups are important to WIs as it means members are part of an extended family. With this in mind Margaret Halstead, Chairman of Village Group organised a coach trip to Stratford on Avon at the end of September.
Arriving in Stratford members and friends set off in smaller groups “to do their own thing in their own time”, as there is so much to do in this beautiful Warwickshire Market Town, and we avoided the persistant rain which was falling up north.
Many headed straight for the Hop on Hop off bus, which gives easy access to all the attractions.

A Shakespeare Experience was enjoyed by most, with visits to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, William’s Birthplace, his New Place, Mary Arden’s farm, as well as a short cruise on the Avon, and of course a bit of retail therapy.

A great day out, with all looking forward to another joint experience…

Was it just a “Midsummer Nights Dream”?

However All’s Well that Ends Well!


Mind Blowing was the only way to describe the talk on quilted patchwork by Pat Rugg from Norley WI to Whitley WI craft group.
Pat has won First Prizes at The Royal Cheshire Show many times….and looking at her skilful patchwork it was obvious to see the reason. She expressed her disappointment at ‘only’ achieving 19 ½ out of 20 this year…. Why? One loose thread! That’s how precise a winning entry has to be.
Pat showed us many pieces of her work, ranging from the offending loose thread, to quilted bags, cushions, wall hangings.

This week’s work was a quilt to welcome a new family baby.
The high light was a quilt made especially for her granddaughter who was having a stressful time studying for her University Finals…. A quilt looking like a bookcase, with books and pictures featuring her whole life….brilliant and beautiful.
So thanks to Pat, members of craft group felt inspired but also daunted…where do we start? New terms were learnt… Whatever is “a Fat Quarter”,“Stack and Whack”, “Log Cabin”, and “Disappearing Nine”?
So equipped with our newly learnt knowledge, let’s see what talent is revealed by our group over the winter.

A Walk on the Wild Side

The Boyd walk around Antrobus is part of a historical byway system, which was mapped out by Major A W Boyd, a local old style naturalist, who opened this route up for all to enjoy.

Whitley WI walking group’s September walk took them along this unique, scenic, slightly over grown route. There were several very squelchy parts, but we had been forewarned so came appropriately dressed.

The beautiful Cheshire Countryside never disappoints.

Our main high-light was being met by some interested Antrobus residents, all sporting intriguing fluffy haircuts, some with pom-pom tails.

Happily the natives were friendly.

These beautiful Alpacas were so welcoming, didn’t run away and escorted us through their field.

We could have taken them home or at least on the rest of the walk.

This walk was full of animals, a couple of toads scarpered away, sheep were abundant, and the resident emus also came to greet us.

(Or did they regard humans as a source of food?)

So continuing the route and passing the Quaker Meeting House in Frandley, many of us headed to the Antrobus Arms for a much needed lunch and continued friendly chatter… We were definitely the loudest group in the pub!

Thanks go to Ann for using her newly acquired phone-map-ap, and giving her time doing the initial reconnaissance… Time is valuable.

ps…I can’t believe we used Zero Calories!