Local Groups

High Ham Ladies

The Ladies Group meet on the first Wednesday of the month, 10.30 in High Ham Village Hall. New members are always welcome - if you are interested in joining us, please phone Margaret Cox 01458 250861 for further information. Our group was formed after the closure of the Women's Institute. We all felt it would be good to continue meeting. Less formal than the WI, we welcome suggestions from members for speakers, visits or other activities, so that everyone has a say in the year's programme. 

July 3rd  An excellent turnout of Ladies were entertained with a quiz organised by guest Ann March. Anne brought along 44 vintage domestic articles for the Ladies to see how many they could guess their function.   In groups, the Ladies were much engrossed in some wild guessing, some immediate decisions, and all accompanied by much talk and laughter! Usually, Anne uses the collection  with  dementia groups and a stimulus for memories and conversation. Another enjoyable gathering of HH Ladies.


June 5th. A presentation on the Prevention of Fraud was given by a representative of Somerset and Avon Police.

May 1st -  High Ham Ladies gathered this morning for the excellent presentation by Tony Brown on the work of the RNLI. Tony came with 3 'hats' on: RNLI  Water Safety Education presenter; RNLI Community Engagement Officer; and a member of Langport and Somerton RNLI Fund Raising Committee. His presentation was, at times, very moving with film footage, an audio recording, photos, and statistics, which brought vividly to life the heroic work of the volunteers, past and present. The moment when the audio recording of the call from the coastguard to the Penlee Lifeboat was not answered,  except for silence, was powerful and poignant. Many thanks were given to Tony,  and a donation to the RNLI. 



3rd April '24: Mike Kennet entertained the Ladies with an enjoyable film all about the year 1966.

6th March '24: This morning, 33 members of HH Ladies learned how all of us should have the WHAT 3 WORDS app on our mobile phones -  a plea from DORSET and SOMERSET AIR AMBULANCE. Why? It is the most accurate way of giving your location to the emergency services, in particular for Air Ambulance. Do you know the 3 Words for your house? Debbie Birtwhisle gave an excellent presentation that revealed what an amazing charity she is an ambassador for. £9 million is needed every year to fund this essential rescue service - April '22 to March '23 there were 2,424 rescue missions within Somerset and Dorset manned by 10 pilots/co-pilots, 12 Critical Care Doctors, 19 Specialist Practitioners, 5 patient/family liaison nurses.


February '24: Our speaker was a representative from BIBIC British Institute for Brain Injured Children BIBIC.

6th December Local Group 'Take Note' entertained us with seasonal and popular songs - refreshments afterwards were provided by all The Ladies. A very enjoyable event. 

November 1st Steve Davies and the Swans of Abbotsbury - Steve, a volunteer at the swannery, gave us a fascinating and entertaining talk about a year in the lives of the swans, and of the volunteers - often immersed in water, mud and enjoying every minute of feeding, ringing, counting, health checking, and much more! Another excellent turn-out of members and visitors. Thanks to Siggy and Juliet for refreshments.


October 4th 20 Ladies gathered to share memories, the stories behind treasured possessions, and craft skills. It was a fascinating insight in to the lives of some of our members. Margaret Cox gave out some information regarding refreshment arrangements for 2024 meetings, and Ladies signed up for the January 10th Lunch at Hurds Hill. 


September 6th Sally Roy, High Ham resident and travel writer, gave a fascinating portrayal of Venice: a romp through its history, and a vivid, informative and entertaining account of Venice today. Sally has known Venice for many years, and it was this close knowledge of the city that brought the city alive to us in the village hall. Thank you Sally.


August 2nd '23 Boat trip - CANCELLED due to poor weather
July 5th: Gillian Gibson - Feet! From Gillian's website " I care about people, their feet, and their skin. Whether you have problems with your feet, nails, skin or debilitating foot pain. I'll carry out a full assessment and find the right treatment to get you back on your feet and mobile again." Gillian gave us a fascinating talk that offered down-to-earth advice on matters that went beyond caring for our feet, and with a sense of humour. After general health advice that, if there had been more time, the Ladies would have asked for more! After answering questions, Gillian gave out some goody bags with a range of foot care cream samples. Another excellent Ladies Meeting, very well attended with some new faces.


June 7th '23 Hosted by the wonderful David and Lee, the owners of Hurds Hill, this afternoon members of High Ham Ladies were given a tour of the house and all its glorious rooms, particularly the bedrooms! Each room is filled with an eclectic mix of furniture, books, paintings and more, and everything comes with a story, some of which we were told. The afternoon began with tea and cake, ‘cake’ underselling the exquisite array that were made in-house. Delicious. Thank you to Cynthia and Margaret for arranging the visit.  

May 3rd '23 This morning Chris Sperring MBE, the professional wildlife Conservationist working for the Hawk and Owl Trust, gave an excellent illustrated talk to High Ham Ladies and visitors - the hall was full! Chris talked of his first-hand experience working with farmers, conservation groups, schools to help them provide habitats to support the owls he introduced us to: barn, short-eared, long-eared, tawny, eagle owl. Thank you Chris for your inspring and entertaining talk.

In the afternoon in Millennium Wood, Nick Fear assisted by 14 members of High Ham Ladies, planted a Horse Chestnut tree to commemorate the Coronation of Charles 111. The tree was donated by HH Ladies, the guard and stakes by Nick, the temporary plaque by Margaret and Mike Cox. Nick will be installing the tree guard later today. A gift of thanks was presented to Nick.

April 5th '23 The Blood Bikers! John Taylor from the Freewheelers Emegency Voluntary Service gave a fascinating and, at times, humorous account of his life as a Freewheeler. The Freewheelers provide a FREE, comprehensive, out-of-hours motorcycle courier service to hospitals in Bristol and much of the the west of England. All 28 listening were amazed and impressed by the commitment of all the volunteers who enable this service to work 365 days of the year - funded solely by fundraising. The Freewheelers deliver/collect from/to hospitals, clinics, air ambulance and patient-homes: breast milk, patient records, x-rays and scans, medication, blood samples, medical equipment, blood and blood products. John Taylor accepted a donation from HH Ladies Group, with further donations from individuals. If you want to know more, take a look at their website:  https://freewheelers.org.uk/   



March '23   Somerset’s Road Safety Officer, Martin Surrey, gave a very useful, and entertaining presentation to 30 members of High Ham Ladies. As well as reminders on how to stay safe on the road, time was spent on the NEW Highway Code, and how to stay safe when driving behind, in front and alongside cyclists and horseriders - a  real issue in our part of Somerset! The Ladies went home with high viz jackets and, hopefully, even safer behind the wheel. https://www.somerset.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/somerset-road-safety/

February '23 Thanks must go to Jenny Whitfield for stepping and giving a talk with only a few minutes notice - Pets for Therapy.

January '23 Ladies January Meal at Jimmy's Shack, Bere Cider. A delicious meal was enjoyed by all, with lots of conversation - meanwhile, outside the rain never stopped!


7th December '22: The Ladies and guests were entertained by the musical group "Take Note" who, as always always, were excellent. The Ladies each  brought a plate of seasonal food that was enjoyed at the end of the entertainment.

2nd NOVEMBER '22: The talk revealed how Somerset Sight the charity has worked since 1919 years to support Somerset people whose lives have been affected by deterioration in their sight: from simple aids to make daily life easier, to emotional support. Their aim is to 'provide services, training and leisure activities that will help maintain independence and improve the quality of life of anyone who is affected by sight loss.'

13th October '22: the coach was full for the visit to the Hinckley C site, and what a difference there was since our last visit! We had a tour of the site in the coach, with a fascinating explanation of all that we were seeing. The site is complex, with hundreds of workers bust 24 hours a day. Thank you MARGARET for organising the visit to Europe's largest building site! 

5th October '22: At today’s  HIGH HAM LADIES meeting, the speaker was Luke Simon, survivor of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and founder of the charity 'SCHOOL IN A Bag’ in memory of his brother who did not survive. Luke described how School in a Bag send SCHOOLBAGS filled with educational resources to vulnerable, disadvantaged and disaster affected children. The SchoolBags can provide vastly improved learning capabilities and a lifeline to a future out of poverty. Luke was inspiring in his description of the charity’s work and its success in improving the future of so many children in simple and powerfully effective way. https://www.schoolinabag.org/  Many thanks to Sally for her enthusiastic intoroduction to Luke, and to the  Ladies who provided the cakes - Luke enjoyed the cakes!


Updates from MARGARET Cox: The Hinkley Point visit on Thursday 13th October - all have been informed of the details - (meet at 9.20 at the Cannington  Park and Ride car park - most importantly DO NOT FORGET your identification document -  a valid passport or photo driving licence -  without this your visit will end at the car park!!!!
January meal -  enquiries have been made and provisionally booked for Wednesday 11th January 2023. (12.30 for  1.00) at  Lockyers, (Bere Functions) at the bottom of Turn Hill. We have been quoted £22.50 for a traditional roast either beef or pork with all the trimmings, roast potatoes and a good selection of seasonal vegetables. Vegetarian and special dietary requirements catered for. There will be a choice of three desserts and coffee. The quote is for a minimum of 20 attending. We need to have a commitment to enable a booking to be made. We  look forward to a good meeting on Wednesday,  as always visitors are very welcome

5th Sept '22 talk by Mel Horsfield - Support given by a Village Agent


Mel explained her role as a Somerset Village Agent and described the many ways in which she can help people who need help, advice, support but do not know who or where or how to access it. As one of the Ladies said, she across as a 'walking directory'. She can be contacted by email: melanieh@somersetrcc.org.uk   Or visit the Somerset Village Agent website: https://somersetagents.org/

August 3rd '22 The Ladies gathered at Hurds Hill on the outskirts of Langport to meet the owners Davis and Cifford, have coffee and cake, and  explore the gardens. It was a delightful opportunity to also explore some of the rooms of Hurds Hill and their fascinating contents. Thanks to Mary Scriven for organising.

July 6th '22 The History and Work of the Thames River Police

June 1st '22 Sue Applegate, the tenant vine grower of Stocklands Vineyard, Bawdrip, gave an excellent talk on English Wines and Vineyards, and the story of how she became the tenant of and manager of a vineyard. The talk ended with a tasting of 2 of her wines, and bottles went home with some Ladies.


May '22 15 Ladies visited Glenda Spooner Horse Welfare Centre, Kingsdon. After a welcome coffee, 2 volunteers took the group round the centre explaining how horses end up requiring the care of the centre, how they are cared for, and how they find a new home. Lots of questions were asked, lots learned - a fascinating morning that, for some, ended with a walk around the paddocks to see more horses and the lake.


April '22 High Ham artist, Kate Lynch, gave a fascinating illustrated talk all about her project of since 2019: Craft - Somerset Portraits and Voices. Kate introduced us to the Somerset craftsmen and women who she portrays in her book of the same name in word and her paintings and drawings - Nigel Bunce, thatcher; Lisa Collins,farrier; Paul Lambe, hedge layer and peg maker; Kate Semple, stone carver; Becky Dunnett*, Church bell rope maker; Steve Overthrow, sievewright...and lots more. There was another excellent attendance from the members, as well as some guests.

*Becky made the new, recently installed, bell ropes for St Andrew's Church, High Ham.



March '22   Today’s gathering of High Ham Ladies saw 23 of us meet to catch-up, have a hot drink, and hear the latest HHL’s news from Margaret Cox. It was good to see new Ladies, and especially to see Val Wells-King. There was a ‘Show and Tell’ session where we were were shown a wide range of interesting objects, and heard their fascinating/entertaining stories.
Next month’s meeting, 6th April 10.30, will have a speaker - High Ham artist Kate Lynch talking about her latest project, book and paintings: Craft - Somerset Portraits and Voices. You are welcome to come along, and despite the Group’s name, men are always welcome!

December '21 'Take Note', the musical group, entertained us with traditional carols, modern popular songs, poems and jokes - all on a festive theme. A great performance from them. The event was well supported by members and some husbands. Thanks to the plates of food brought by the  Ladies, the morning ended with delicious refreshments


November '21 Our speaker was Ian Williamson who spends his retirement on expeditions around the world. He entertained us with tales of his exciting experiences - a fascinating talk. Funds raised by Ian are given to St Margaret's Hospice.

October '21 Another well attended gathering with more new faces for Liz Daniel's 'life-saving' talk on how to resuscitate in the home setting, and how to use the High Ham Defibrillator/AED -  if instructed by the 999 emergency call-handler. 

September '21 

After 16 months of no meetings, on September 1st, 29 ‘High Ham Ladies’ gathered in the village hall. It was good to see such a good turn-out from many familar faces, and some new. Following a welcome from Margaret Cox, we were told of Val Wells-King's illness and that she was handing over the organising of the monthly meetings to Margaret and others. Juliet Greathead, a good friend of Val's, told us some of her story and how it brought her to High Ham and to co-founding High Ham Ladies following the demise of the WI. Mary Scriven demonstrated the making of a lovely arrangement of flowers and foliage that will be presented to Val. Another arrangement will be presented to Margaret Porter who is recovering well from an operation. Thanks must go to Margaret Cox for making sure that High Ham Ladies will continue, and to Mary Scriven for her demonstration.

COVID LOCKDOWNS no meetings April 2020-August 2021

March '20 A very useful talk by Trudy Zimmer, our Nat West Community Banker.  Trudi gave all of us a lot to think about to ensure our protection from fraud by phone, email, websites, doorstep etc. Those who thought they knew it all and were a step ahead of the criminals, found they didn't and were taking close notice of the advice given. Trudy can offer you advice, whether you are a Nat West customer or not: 07920 414030  or Trudy.henderson@NatWest.com. If there is one thing you can do to protect yourself -  visit the website Have I Been Pwned  (a safe site)  if your email address/passwords have been compromised - you may decide then to reset the passwords/change your email address.

February 2020 We had a talk about Dementia support  by Jane Dalrymple. It was very interesting, and pertinent to some of us who are caring for, or know, someone with this distressing condition.  We are all living longer, so it seems, so this might be something we should be aware.

December 2019 Mary Scriven arrived at the village hall laden with winter greenery and everything that the 20 Ladies might need to create their Christmas arrangement. By noon the hall was full of lovely arrangements and the remnants of the festive refreshments. Thanks Mary for a productive and enjoyable morning. Thanks to Margaret Cox for the photos.


November 2019  Mike Brown, someone many know as the first owner of The Smokery at Hambridge and authority on all things eel-related, entertained the Ladies with his story of how, in his early 20s, he trod the pilgrim route Camino de Santiago. Mike held his audience from start to finish with his evocative descriptions of the landscape he travelled through which, unlike today, was not signposted and with few places to stay overnight. Mike conjured up the sights, sounds, smells of his journey, punctuated with scraps of Spanish and French as he retold some of his conversations he had with the locals. Thanks Mike for an entertaining morning.

September 2019  Ian Wilkinson returned to the Ladies Group to give an illustrated report of his latest fundraising for St. Margaret’s Hospice - a 3-day trek through the tea plantations of Kerala, India. Ian described, with humour, the highs and lows of travelling in rural and urban India - an informative and entertaining talk. Prior to the trek, 2 days were spent volunteering in a children’s cancer centre, and after, a visit to the Taj Mahal, followed by the cities of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra. Ian and his fellow trekkers raised a net total of £66,000 for the hospice. October 3rd meeting is an Open Meeting with entertainment from the Somerton Ukele Group.

August 2019  Wednesday 7th. Despite the forecast for rain, High Ham Ladies had the pleasure of cruising on the River Parrett onboard the Duchess of Cocklemoor. With so many wanting to join the cruise, two trips were offered and filled. Thanks to Margaret Cox for organising. Thanks also to the 2 members of crew and Skipper Ian Macnab. It was a pleasure cruising in near silence as the boat is solar powered, and seeing Langport from a different viewpoint, and stretches of bank that some of us walk  frequently on the Langport Monday Health Walks.


April 2019 There was a very good turnout for Mike Kennett’s Informative and very entertaining illustrated talk ‘Advertising - Changing Social Attitudes’. The images of adverts and product packaging, that all of us recalled from tv, magazines, street hoardings, raised many memories, much laughter, and singing the Fairy Liquid advert... the now inappropriate car ads such as ‘Some day you’ll settle down with a nice, sensible girl’; ‘If it were a lady, it would get its bottom pinched’; and the OXO ad ‘Gives a meal man-appeal’, and the cigarette ad ‘Cigarettes are like women- the best ones are thin and rich’, reminded us how attitudes have thankfully changed!  Thanks Mike, and thanks to Cynthia for booking him.

February 2019  Ginny Smith gave a fascinating illustrated talk of the work of the 2 charities that distribute shoe boxes to a deprived community in Romania. Ginny has been helping the work of Blythswood Care and it Shoe Box Project, by collecting items that will go in the boxes that will be given to children: toiletries, gloves, hat and scarf, a cuddly toy, picture book, notebook, crayons, sweets etc. In 2018, after hundreds of filled boxes were clollectecollected at the Ilminster depot, Ginny and other volunteers, travelled to Vulcan in Romania to meet staff from the charity Aurora who distribute the boxes, and to discover the impact the Shoe Box Project has. Ginny was reassured to discover that the efforts of all involved in creating the boxes, is well worthwhile, that the boxes make a difference to the lives of so many. The High Ham knitters will be pleased to know their teddies, pencil cases, purses have reached Vulcan and being enjoyed.    

December 5th: 'Take Note' - musical entertainment

Nov ‘18 Sue Russell and 23 Ladies produced 23 Christmas gift boxes in this month’s craft session. The hall was, at times, unusually quiet as the Ladies concentrated on following Sue’s instructions to fold, squirt glue and press. Thanks to Sue for an enjoyable morning. 

Oct18 The Ladies were joined by husbands and friends at EDF Visitors’ Centre in Bridgwater for a security check and introductory presentation that gave astounding facts and figures that announced that Hinckley Point C Project (HPC) as the largest building site and project in Europe. Once at the site, and following another security check, the coach followed an intricate route through numerous self-contained building projects, each with its own workforce and machinery. It was almost too much to absorb as we heard more facts that described how the project uses: local businesses; a huge local workforce; offers new apprenticeships; provides new courses at Bridgwater College ... A fascinating visit that allowed us to see for ourselves what a mammoth project HPC is! Thanks to Margaret Cox for organising the trip.

Sept ‘18 Maggie Franklin, Somerton-based vet, gave a fascinating and entertaining talk about her  30+ years as a vet. She drew vivid pictures of her childhood experiences living on a farm, her training at Bristol, and some of her many ‘adventures’ when visiting farms in the depths of the Somerset countryside. Thank you Maggie - we all enjoyed listening to your story.

July '18 Janet Cook and Eileen Williams, old friends of Val, travelled to Somerset to show the Ladies their beautiful collection of quilts that they have made over many years. They explained how the quilts were pieced together and quilted - most by hand, rarely by machine. The designs are complex and exquisite. Some of the Ladies recalled their efforts to make patchwork quilts - some of them never finished! Maybe, inspired by the quilts shown, some might finally finish them, or even start a new one!


June '18 The Ladies gathered at Furlong Farm, Henley on a beautiful summer morning, guests of Joan and Frank Gibbs. Frank created a display of domestic, farming and military bygones for us to examine before having home-made cakes and coffee in the orchard. We then followed Frank on a walk through past ponds, woodland and a meadow rich in orchids, ragged robin and clover. We were introduced to Frank and Joan's calves and their mothers  -  a fascinating morning with lots of conversation in idyllic surroundings. Thank you Frank and Joan.


May '18 

ps. MAY 2nd visit to Carymoor Environmental Centre, Dimmer had to be cancelled due to circumstances at Dimmer. many thanks to Chris Cox for stepping in and giving a talk aboutfurther experiences in Jamaica.

April '18

Janet Seaton, Kelways official historian, and chair of Langport History Society, described the how the Kelways family started their business in 1851 and grew into a highly successful nursery selling plants, bulbs, seeds in the UK, USA, and the Empire. It was interesting to discover how the business became adept at promoting themselves using a trademark coat of arms (of dubious origin), catalogues that referred to royal patronage (again, dubious), that the many show medals awarded for their plants, articles...Kelways became justifiably famous for their new flower and vegetable varieties and, of course, their paeony, iris, delphinium varieties that are well regarded by gardeners today. Thanks to Janet's wide ranging researches, her illustrated talk of the history of Kelways encouraged many of us to think of our gardens, despite the never-ending rain!

March '18

Rupert Farthing from Carymoor Environmental Trust gave a fascinating illustrated talk about the Trust's work in encouraging young people to interact with wildlife and countryside, and how to live sustainably. We learned how the Trust's 100 acres started life 22 years ago as a landfill site, and how they have, with the help of volunteers and school children, created areas of wetland, woodland, meadows, hedgerows and scrub. The site is now a haven for wildlife and receives visits from schools and other educational and community groups. We were given a number of troubling facts about the how long it takes for man-made materials to degrade in landfill eg. cardboard 5yrs; disposable nappies, it has been estimated, 500yrs! We learned a lot, and left thinking we can do more to avoid adding to landfill. May 2nd we will be visiting environmental centre. VIridor, who sponsor the Trust and lease the site to them, awarded High Ham Millennium Wood £500 in 2016, funding the purchase of tree identification lables, 500 native bluebell bulbs, insect hotels, and lots more.

February '18

Ian Wilkinson's excellent talk about his expedition to Peru was both informative and entertaining: his photographs illustrated the story of the journey, conveying the mountainous landscape, the heat and, at times, the exhaustion experienced by Ian and his fellow travellers, and of the 2-day project painting a rural village school.

January '18  The Christmas Lunch at The Black Swan, Langport, was very enjoyable with delicious food accompanied by non-stop conversation. Thanks must go to Margaret Cox for arranging the lunch, and for organising the 2018 meeting programme which was issued at the lunch.