Gloucester Road WI

The WI for Bristol's most interesting and independent high street. Meeting the 3rd Tues monthly.



Review November: Christmas Patchwork Baubles

Review October: AGM & LinkAge

Review September: 100 Women Workshop & Make/Bake/Grow Off

Review August: Organ Donation Nurses and Blood Bikers

We were really pleased to welcome two lots of speakers to our August meeting.

First we heard from Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation, Sylvia Crump,  Izzy Derrick and Rachel Stone.

I think we all knew that transplantation of an organ or tissue can be life changing, however we do not really talk openly about death in this country and about our own wishes if we were to die.

If there was one thing we all took away it was the importance to have the conversation with your family and close friends so they are aware of what you would want.

Sylvia, Izzy and Rachael work for NHS Blood and Transplant and are based at Southmead. They explained the very specific circumstances in which a person needs to pass away in order to donate organs: in a hospital on the intensive care ward.

Age is not a barrier. There may be a reduced likelihood that organs can be used but if they are working then the organ donation team will try to find a matching recipient.

Here is some of the information they gave us about organs that are donated:

The Heart – a life-saving transplant for the recipient. The organ can be donated as a whole organ OR heart valves can be transplanted, often to help newborn babies.

The Lungs – a life-saving transplant for the recipient which, for example, it transforms the lives of young Cystic Fibrosis patients.

The Liver – there are two lobes to the liver and the small lobe can be donated by a live donor. It is also possible to take cells from the liver to help regenerate the liver in the recipient. This process has a very high success rate in children – around 88% – and can mean that they do not need to go on to have full transplant. As if that wasn’t brilliant enough, the cells can also be frozen and used for 7 years!

The Kidneys – a life-changing transplantation. For patients on kidney dialysis life is very restrictive. They need to attend dialysis sessions 3-4 times a week, must closely monitor their fluid intake and follow a specific diet. Those waiting for a kidney make up the biggest proportion of the waiting list.

The Pancreas – a life-changing transplantation. It may be the whole organ or islet cells from within it. Often used for patients who have very unstable diabetes.

It is also possible to donate tissue and the donors do not need to be on the ITU ward. Here is the information we heard about that:

Corneas – one donor could help between 2 and 5 people.

Bone/Tendon/Skin – all types of tissue transplant. Tends not to be so frequent but can be stored for some time and be used when there is a spike in demand, for example when there are traumatic events like the Manchester bombing.

Our second speaker was Edward Shephard who volunteers with Freewheelers EVS.

As a registered charity they are reliant on donations to run the out of hours service that they provide to the NHS.

Edward explained that like many of the riders, controllers, mechanics and fundraisers, he got involved because he wanted to give something back to NHS.  There are around 120 volunteers in Freewheelers EVS, with approximately 80 of those riding the bikes providing the medical courier service in our region. Now part of a national network, they were one of first blood bike groups to set up.

The very first emergency volunteer service (EVS) was established in 1962 after Margaret Ryerson organised a courier service for small pox vaccines during the postal strike. Initially in London it extended to the South of England, although did not remain in place beyond the strike.

Nowadays Freewheelers EVS saves the NHS approximately 400,000 each year transporting blood, fresh frozen plasma, pathology samples, medication, x-rays/scans, patient notes, equipment, surgical tools and breast milk. In addition to this they also promote safe motorcycle riding.

The courier jobs are called through to the controller who allocates it to the volunteer courier on standby. The exception is a daily job supplying the air ambulance with the blood and fresh frozen plasma when their shift change takes place out of hours.

With a fleet of 11 motorbikes, there are 4 in operation every evening in the patch covered by the Freewheelers with volunteers undertaking 12 hour shifts (7pm-7am) Monday to Thursday or making themselves available from 7pm on Friday to 7am on Monday, unless of course it is a bank holiday in which case they carry on until 7am on Tuesday morning.

If you’d like to know more about the service there is a fantastic video you can watch explaining the difference they make every day.

Thank you to Edward, Sylvia, Izzy and Rachel for a very interesting evening and to the members who attended and asked lots of interesting questions.

Review July: Bowling and Pimms

July was something a bit different – an open meeting where we also welcomed male visitors to enjoy our summer party.

The Pimms was poured and the men from the bowling club got us practicing our bowling technique before incentivising us with sweets and miniature bottles of wine.

Close inspection was required, particularly once wine was at stake, and there were definitely some natural bowlers amongst us. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Review June: Beer Tasting with Wiper & True

At June’s meeting our speaker was Vicky Helsby from Bristol brewers Wiper & True.

Drawn to work at Wiper & True by their simple and elegant branding Vicky has been part of the team for the last 3 years and can be found in the Tap Room most Saturdays talking all things brewing.

In the past 5 years Wiper & True has gone from being home-brewed and sold at local Bristol markets to being stocked in Waitrose nationally. During that time they have collaborated with lots of other brewers by renting equipment and sharing space, all the while tweaking their processes and recipes to achieve the ultimate goal: great tasting beer! The recipes still vary slightly with each brew and for that reason the batch number is always printed on their labels.

Alewives were the original brewers who brewed for their household. When they had an excess they would sell it on. Broomsticks indicated they had beer to sell but unfortunately played a part in driving them out of the industry because of links made to witchcraft. With brewing carried out in cauldrons, cats kept to keep mice off their grains, pointy hats worn so they could easily be spotted when selling at markets and the side effects of the botanicals used in their brews said to be bewitching, brewing became man’s work.

Wiper & True currently employ equal numbers of men and women and are actively encouraging women into the industry and to drink beer. Every bottle of their beer demonstrates this as the branding is intentionally kept simple, accessible and gender neutral. This year the brewery also marked International Women’s Day by releasing XX, a beer created by the women at Wiper & True.

Vicky talked about the 4 key ingredients: water, malt, hops, yeast. We nibbled grains of malt and had a good sniff of some hops then tested our pallets on two different beers. First up was best selling tropical pale ale Bristol Crush, inspired by grapefruit flavours of the Caribbean drink Ting. The second was milk stout called Milk Shake since the idea for it came from that very thing and you can definitely taste the vanilla and cacao shining through.

There are a selection of photos from the evening below.

Review May: Suffolk Puffs

Review April: Store Cupboard Spa Night

Review March: Celebrating International Women’s Day with Bethan Evans & Jane Duffus

We were very pleased to welcome two speakers to our March meeting.

First up was Bethan Evans who came to Bristol to study law and stayed in the area and built up 35 years of experience, specialising in local government.

Bethan’s talk focused on women in the law and began by looking back at the history of women in the profession. In 1843 The Solictors Act defined the persons who could enter the profession, however at that time the definition of persons did not include women.
It was just over 100 years ago that Gwyneth Bebb brought a case against the Law Society to challenge this and it wasn’t until 1919 that the Sexual Discrimination (Removal) Act meant that women could become lawyers.

When Bethan herself graduated and took up a role as an article clerk in 1983 it was noteworthy that the three new article clerks at that firm were all female. The male-domination of the profession was further demonstrated by the fact that when law firms sent their article clerks to collect their post from Bristol’s Commercial Rooms only men were allowed in. When Bethan and her fellow article clerks undertook this task a special area was cordoned off for female clerks.

She went on to look at how the situation has and continues to change. She herself went on to become senior partner at Bevan Brittan LLP.

When it comes to recent figures:

  • 67% of those studying law are women
  • 48% of those entering the profession as solicitors are women
  • 33% of partners in law firms are women
  • 28% of judges are women
  • 22% of high court judges are women
  • 2 out of 12 Supreme Court judges are women

Finishing on a positive note, she highlighted some of the things that the law society and judiciary are working on to improve these statistics and also look to address the gender pay gap.


Our second speaker was Jane Duffus. Having trained as a journalist and worked on Fleet Street Jane come to Bristol around 10 years ago and became involved in women’s issues. She set up What The Frock, the all female comedy event to address the fact that comedy clubs were not booking women, is currently a Trustee of Bristol Women’s Voice and author of the recently published book The Women Who Built Bristol.

Jane wanted to write a book about some of the incredible women of Bristol, tell their stories and document their contributions to the city.
She went on to tell us about a few of the incredible women in the book. There was the first female solicitor Angela Tuckett in 1929, who was also followed into the profession shortly afterwards by her sister Joan. They were also international hockey players, held pilots licences, worked to build the membership of the communist party and in their later years busked to raise money for striking miners.

There was Frances Power Cobbe, a social reformer, anti-vivisection activist, women’s suffrage campaigner and lobbyist on education for women who arrived in Bristol aged 15 and found herself on the Leigh Woods side of the Avon gorge before the Clifton Suspension Bridge was completed. She and her brother bribed someone to use the basket and pulley system to winch them across the gorge to Clifton!

There were Emily & Mary Blathwayt, a mother and daughter who were actively involved in the Women’s Suffrage Society and Women’s Social and Political Union. They opened their house as a retreat for suffragettes who had been imprisoned and force-fed. They not only gave them a place to recuperate but also planted an arboretum. The suffragettes who stayed there were encouraged to plant a tree or bush in the grounds of the house.

Jane spoke about many other fantastic women and we learnt that the women’s police force & Red Cross boxes also came about because of some amazing Bristolian ladies. If you want to read about these women and many more you can buy Jane’s book, plus if you make your purchase from Bristol Women’s Voice then they will receive 100% of the profits.

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