WI Meeting 2nd February 2020

Katherine Renton – Northumberland Artist and Our Tribute to Judi Hill

WI Business

  • Janis Crook welcomed everyone, including Linda Davy, who joined us a visitor.
  • Janis confirmed that the Minutes from our December Christmas Party and with no corrections, are agreed and filed.
  • Janis asked for volunteer bakers for our Daffodil Tea on April 8th,
  • Thanks were given to Lesley Long for her time and expertise in updating her website and to Margaret Mayfield and Judy Woodford for their donations to the Seamen’s Mission.


  • Janis advised that there are still places available for the trip to York (March 27-30). 3 nights bed, breakfast and evening meal with a visit to Castle Howard, visit to ’Van Gogh Immersive’ art exhibition, a day in York to visit the Minster/Jorvik/ shopping (perhaps finishing off in a smart cocktail bar) and a trip into Bronte Country.  The cost will be approx £365 for a single occupancy room at a Premier Inn in York – to include dinner, bed and breakfast and all trips.
  • Thurs 14th May – Alnmouth WI outing to Howick Gardens, the Earl Grey Tea Room and the Kneelers in St. Michael’s Church.  Anyone wishing to sign up should contact Kathryn Archibald.
  • Sat 12th September – visit to Rosslyn Chapel

Upcoming Local WI and Federation Events 

  • Informal coffee morning is on February 20th from 10 am at The Old School Gallery.
  • The Northumberland Federation AGM is on April 4th
  • An invitation to a Domino Drive on March 30th with Lesbury WI
  • Please NOTE our Birthday dinner has been moved to March 16th to enable us to fit everyone in.  If you have not signed up or paid for your ticket (£20) please contact Kathryn.

Birthday Flowers 

  • Birthday flowers were presented to Larraine Jobson

Speaker & Topic: My Family & My Art – Katherine Renton

Katherine Renton Artist - Alnmouth BeachJanis introduced Katherine Renton, who spoke eloquently about her passion for art, for her home county of Northumberland, and for the importance of education, which was pivotal in securing the fortunes of her artistic family.

Katherine illustrated her Northumbrian roots by beginning with her great, great, great grandmother – Eleanor Heron (born 1813), a formidable woman who tragically died during a blizzard in 1863 while walking from Alnham to her home at Hartside in the Ingram Valley. The women of each generation that succeeded her were Northumbrian farm servants, until Katherine’s mother, Eleanor Tully, managed to pass the 11+ exam in 1945, enabling her to study at the Duchess’s Grammar School in Alnwick.

Eleanor went on to study Fine Art at Newcastle University, under the tutelage of the famous artists, Sir Lawrence Gowing, Victor Pasmore, and the Pop Artist Richard Hamilton. Subsequently Eleanor embarked on a range of careers, considered unusual for a woman in the 1960s and 70s, including working as a self-employed picture framer. Eleanor continued to work as an artist, and eventually married the renowned local artist Arthur Young, settled in Amble, and had three children.

Katherine followed in her mother’s footsteps by studying Fine Art at Newcastle University and then embarked on a successful career as an art teacher.  She continued to practise her art, alongside her teaching, and like her father before her, she has chosen the Northumbrian coastline for her subject matter. In 2014 she was selected as the poster artist for the Alnmouth Arts Festival with her oil painting entitled ‘Dune Walkway – Alnmouth’. Further exhibitions followed, and in 2016 Katherine was finally able to leave teaching and focus on a career as an artist.  Janis thanked Katherine for sharing her fascinating story, her family history and some of her beautiful paintings with us.

A Tribute to Judi Hill

Sadly, last year saw the death of Judi Hill, a long standing and much-loved member. This evening we paid tribute to Judi.

Judith Williams recollected Judi’s amazing kindness to friends and neighbours alike; highlighting how she generously gave Judith’s family the use of her flat in Cannes, at a particularly challenging and sad time in their lives, ten years ago.

Isobel Chalmers recalled Judi, initially as a teenager, and again they reconnected years later. She described Judi  as a force of nature and a tremendous character.  She told of Judi’s unflinching commitment to the village and its residents. She was the first female Chair of the Alnmouth Parish Council and championed the needs of the village, often securing grants for village improvements and sometimes having to challenge the Council and others to fight for what was needed.

Judi was always doing things, always helping people and embarking on new initiatives. She ran workshops in the Hindmarsh Hall for those who wanted to paint, she drew cartoons, she delivered Christmas lunches to those who could not get to the Hall, she wrote poems – in fact it is difficult to know what she did not do. She had every kitchen gadget known to man and sometimes multiple versions of them.  If she thought you could do with a gadget you were given one – it might have been an avocado slicer or an egg boiler or something that you never knew you needed.  Fittingly, Isobel finished her tribute by reading one of Judi’s poems: ‘Love Affairs’ ,which chronicled her one true love – Northumberland.

Caroline Martin shared the story of how Judi (almost) single-handedly saved the Ferry Hut from ruin.  Judi got a grant and supervised the renovation and filled the hut with photos and memorabilia.  She was even interviewed on the BBC in 2008 about how she had managed to make the restoration possible.

Janis thanked Judith, Isobel and Caroline for their heartfelt tributes. And if that wasn’t enough –  would you believe it our speaker’s father knew Judi too. It really is a small world.

Supper & Raffle Thanks 

  • Thank you to Ethel Cook, Judith Williams, Margaret Reece and Kris Rogerson for an excellent supper of pizza, sandwiches, cakes and treats.  Thanks to Tina Stroud for baking gluten free pizza and treats.
  • Thank you also to Ann Coyne for doing the raffle .   Janis made a special presentation and we sang Happy Birthday to Anne Coyne to say thank you for all her hard work on the Committee.
  • Thanks also to Kris Rogerson and everyone who helped with the tables and chairs.

Next Meeting Date

  • The next meeting will be on March 2nd when Karen Carr will talk about the History of Beads and Bead Making.
  • The Competition will be a Beaded Necklace.
      Report by Kathryn Archibald