Prizes Galore!

We have been very lucky to receive so many generous donations from local businesses for our raffle and auctions in order to raise as much money as possible for Demelza Children's Hospice!   Raffle tickets are still available to purchase prior to the evening draw at 50p per ticket, books of 10 for £5 so you can help us raise money even if you are't attending the ball itself and be in with a chance of winning one of these awesome prizes:

Anno Distiller – Gin tasting session for 2 adults
Bathstore – Waterproof Bluetooth speakers x2
Blackberry Farm – Free entry for a family of 4
Buxted Park Hotel – Champagne afternoon tea for 4
Carol Burgess – Neal’s Yard – Basket of products
Cole’s - Gentleman’s handkerchiefs
Cowburn Cutting Company – Cut and blow dry
De La Warr Pavilion - Family ticket for 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' - 2pm - Thursday 13th April
Flamingo Trends - £20 gift voucher
Fun Abounds – Fun ‘n’ Bound gift voucher
Heavenly Soles Reflexology – Gift voucher
Helen Coates – Arbonne Independent – Ultra Premium Health & Wellbeing Gift Basket
Holmes Hill Furniture – Mirror
Innocence Photography – Photoshoot and images
Kids Stuff – Stuffed toys
Lashtique – Eyelash extensions
Llama Park – Free entry for family of 4
Lodge Dental Practice – Electric toothbrush
Luscious Lampshades –Handmade lampshade voucher
Mandy’s Beauty – Gel manicure
Nat Turner Body Shop at Home – Almond milk & honey gift set
Oasis Dental Practice – Teeth whitening
Oast Farm - £10 voucher
Pig and Butcher - £20 food voucher
Tesco Uckfield – Food hamper
Uckfield Hardware Store – Oil & vinegar gift set
Wilderness Wood Café – Tea & cake for 4 up to the value of £25
Wyevale Garden Centre - £30 gift card



Belles' Ball appeal for Donations

We're so grateful to so many local people and businesses for supporting us in our fundraising efforts for Demelza Hospice Care For Children at our Belles' Ball!  So far we have over £2000 worth of amazing raffle and/or auction prizes donated by:

Alex Hill
Amy Robbs - Stella & Dot Independent Stylist
Anno Distillers
Bathstore Sevenoaks
Blackberry Farm
Bright Move Property
Carol Burgess
Cowburn Cutting Company
Drusillas Park
East Sussex National Golf Resort & Spa
The Girlie Company
Hanna's Bakery
Heavenly Souls
Helen Coates
Holmes Hill Furniture
Holtye Golf Club
Innocence Photography
Jaques of London
Lashtique Eyelash Extensions
The Lodge Dental Practice
Luscious Lampshades
Mandy's Beauty Room
Nat Turner
Oasis Dental Care Uckfield
Oast Farm Shop and Cafe
The New Pig and Butcher
Rick Mudie
Tasmia Trinkets and Charms
Turning Tide Pilates
Wilderness Wood

Thank you so much to everyone for donating, it's such a great cause! Please do get in touch if your business can help in any way! All businesses who donate will get a mention in our programme and on our website. If you don't have merchandise or services you can offer, we have alternative ideas of how you can donate too ;)

And don't forget to buy your tickets to the ball, it's going to be a great night at East Sussex National Golf Resort & Spa! Information can be found on our website:

The Belles' Ball

Happy New Year Belles!

We hope you've enjoyed the Christmas and New Year celebrations but now they're over, we thought you'd like to have something fun to look forward to....

The Belles' Ball in aid of Demelza Children’s Hospice will be taking place on the evening of Saturday 18th March 2017 at the East Sussex National resort.  It's our 1st anniversary in March so we're celebrating with a fantastic night out and tickets are now available to all, whether you are an Uckfield Belle or not, and there is no limit to the number of tickets you can buy - do invite your friends and please spread the word!  

Tickets are priced at £50 each and include a glass of Prosecco, three course meal, half a bottle of wine, coffee and entertainment.  There will also be an amazing auction and raffle with all proceeds going to Demelza.

In order to reserve your ticket, please register at and make sure you pay by 1st February.  Details of how to pay are on the Eventbrite page.  We are limiting our tickets at 250, so even if you can't pay for your ticket now, please do register on the Eventbrite site to reserve your ticket as soon as possible.  You don't want to miss out on the best night out in East Sussex in 2017!

Please contact Sophia Hill at if you have any queries or can donate any prizes.  Thank you and we hope to see you there!

Wreath Making

We had such a brilliant time at December's meeting, making wreaths/table decorations as well as being treated to another rendition of carols by our very own choir.  We also had our Festival of Trees Christmas tree on display with all of our members' hand decorated hearts.  This was auctioned off at the end of the night to raise some more money for Demelza and is now safely tucked in Laura's snug.

Leasa welcomed everybody and thanked us all for a brilliant first year as a WI.  We're all so excited about next year with so many great meetings planned and our Belles' Ball in March to celebrate our birthday!

As for our wreaths, everyone brought in plenty of foliage and we had some added extras to include such as orange slices, ribbon, raffia and cinnamon sticks.  We were given a quick demonstration by Hazel and Charlotte Wilkinson who then circulated the room with their assistant, Lorraine, helping us all individually on our tables.

Our members all added something of their personalities in to their designs and we ended up with a huge range of beautiful decorations to adorn our doors/tables.

We started off with moss covered rings and ended up with gorgeous wreaths covered in evergreen, ivy, holly, thistles, rosemary, eucalyptus, crab apples, pine cones, cinnamon, orange slices, bows, baubles and some even added lights once they got home!

Thank you to all our members yet again for making it such a brilliant night and a fun and successful first year as Uckfield WI!  Have a wonderful Christmas and we'll see you all in the new year for more fun and frolics!

Uckfield's Late Night Shopping

Our first stall at Uckfield's Late Night Shopping event was a huge success!  We are so delighted so many people came along to support us, thank you to everyone who baked, made something or donated something as well as those who gave up their time to help out on the night and of course to those who bought our wares!  We managed to raise a significant amount towards our target for Demelza, £184!!

Our Mulled Wine tasters went down a treat and our stall was kept busy throughout the night, I could barely get in there to take any photos!


We were also lucky to be treated to the first ever performance by our brand new Belles' Choir led by Laura Dobson.  They went down a storm, especially with my twins who were mesmerised.  In between each song, my little girl turned to shout "Mummy, MORE SINGING!", she was so excited!

We can't wait until next year, we have some really exciting plans which you'll be hearing about soon!

Uckfield Baking Club

Our baking sub-group (not just for WI members) has been busy over the last few months as well.  You can follow their events on their Facebook page and on the Uckfield Baking Club Blog which gives details on how you can join them if you're interested in baking/eating!

A summary of recent Uckfield Baking Club events include the themes Yellow, Boozy Bakes, GBBO inspired and Vegetables.  See below for examples of the delicious bakes they've been sharing.

14 vegetable themed bakes at November's meeting

14 vegetable themed bakes at November's meeting

It's an entirely non-competitive group with no judging, just bring along a bake based on the theme and share it with the others.  You get to try lots of different bakes, meet like-minded people and have some fun socialising.  They also swap recipes and discuss baking tips and tricks as well as having a couple of practical tutorials planned in the new year. 

Cheese & Wine Tasting

Our November meeting was a real treat with local cheese & wine experts Martin and Charles joining forces to guide us through some delicious flavours!  

Before we started though, Julie from our chosen charity, Demelza, introduced herself and told us all a bit more about the Hospice and what they do for families in need of their help.  She also explained exactly how our fundraising would make a difference, what the money buys and encouraged everyone to support our fundraising Belles' Birthday Ball in March.

Martin joined us from his new shop on Uckfield High Street, Cheese Etc..., with a wonderful and varied selection of cheeses.  We had a hard cheese, a goats cheese, a cheddar, a brie style cheese, a blue cheese and .  We also had a small taste of "Sheese", vegan cheese, for our dairy free members to join in too.  

Charles from Noble Wines, chose a selection of red and white wines as well as a mulled cider and a beer to go with the cheeses chosen by Martin.

We started with Vacherin Mont D'or paired with a Pinot Grigio which costs just £4 per bottle!  This was a brie style cheese which is pasteurised and made with traditional rennet and very mild and creamy.  I really liked it and despite not being a white wine drinker, I enjoyed the Pinot Grigio too.  The wine was light and easy to drink with fruity notes to compliment the buttery notes of the cheese.

Our second cheese was  Lord of the Hundreds, a local hard cheese which is made from Sheep milk in East Sussex.  This was a Manchego style with a natural rind, it had flavours of burnt caramel and nuttiness and a grassy sweet aroma.  It reminded me of a milder parmesan and was very enjoyable.  This cheese was paired with Nine Tails Beer (£2.70).  I missed Charles' comments on this one as I was busy taking pictures and preparing the next cheese but I was not a fan.  It was very bitter and just not to my taste.

Our third cheese was Rosary, the mildest, creamiest soft goats cheese I've ever tasted.  It's pasteurised and was very light and fluffy, I would definitely buy some of this for a different addition to a cheese board.  This one was paired with Montepulciano, another bargain at £4 per bottle and a nice light, fruity Sicilian red with low tannins.

The fourth cheese was another local one from the same makers in East Sussex, Broadoak Cheddar.  This is an unpasteurised one but is vegetarian.  It was a lovely strong cheddar which I wouldn't have thought of pairing with a white wine but it was delicious with the Marsanne chosen by Charles.  Surprisingly, this was one of my favourite wines, it was very fruity like a Chardonnay but with the acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc and slightly sweeter.  It has 3 months on Oak and is from Le Forge in South West France, a relatively new label using only the very best of their grapes.  Apparently it's very hard to find Marsanne on its own so I for one will certainly be buying a bottle or two despite it being one of the pricier ones at £9.99.

Cheese no.5 was Bowland, a very unusual Christmas Cake cheese!  Another unpasteurised one, this was very sweet and reminded me of mince pies with a cheesy twist.  It was nice to taste a tiny bit but I couldn't imagine eating any more, although it did go well with the hot mulled spiced Monk's Delight Cider.

Our 6th and final cheese was a Stilton, a nice strong blue cheese, I'm afraid I didn't catch much of Martin's chat about this one other than maggots being mentioned a few times!?  (I believe he was talking about Stilton back in the day and not the one we were eating, I hope!)  The final wine was another favourite of mine, a big heavy red which spends 6 months on old Oak and 1 month on new Oak.  Governo was also the most expensive at £19.99 although is currently on offer with Buy One Get One Free!  

All in all, it was a very informative, very tasty and very fun evening with wonderful hosts in Martin and Charles, keeping us both entertained and informed.  They are both incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their respective fields and I would highly recommend both of their well stocked and friendly shops.

Festival of Christmas Trees 2016

We decorated our Christmas tree today ready for the Festival of Christmas Trees at Holy Cross Church!  The place was looking so festive with a hubbub of people all excitedly decorating their trees!

The festival is on over 3 days as usual, commencing on Friday 2nd December, ready for Uckfield's Late Night Shopping extravaganza.  The trees will be on display in the church until Sunday afternoon and is a magnificent sight to behold, do try to make it along if you can!

Our tree has been decorated with hearts individually decorated by all of our members and looks so beautiful and full of colour!  I took a few photos of the decorating in progress (my twins came along to help) and a few of my personal favourite hearts.

I hope you make it along to see our and all of the other gorgeous trees on display, it's always such a lovely festival with trees from so many in the local community.

Health & Well Being - a panel

In September we were lucky enough to be joined by a whole panel of alternative therapy specialists.  Each was there to tell us a bit about their background and explain what their chosen specialty was all about, how it could help us and what people tend to gain from it.  We had speakers about Hypnotherapy, Accupuncture, Nutrition, Reflexology and Reiki and they were all very informative.  We shall include their bios below with links to further information if you are interested in learning more or booking a session with any of the speakers.  A few of them also offered our members a discount which will soon be updated on to our Discounts page in the Members' Only area of the website.

Uckfield WI supports Demelza

We held a vote in July on which local charities we'd like to support and Demelza won by a landslide to be our main focus.  We will be sharing more news soon on how we hope to support them alongside monetary donations and if you have any ideas for fundraising, we'd love to hear them!

We will be welcoming Julie from Demelza at our November meeting and there is lots of planning going on in the background for our birthday Belles' Ball in March which will be our first big fundraiser for them.

We have also selected a second charity to support and we'll also give more information soon regarding Friends of Uckfield Hospital.

Fashion & Pamper evening with Flamingo Trends

In August we were treated to a pamper evening organised by Louise and Julie from Flamingo Trends boutique in Mayfield.  

Unfortunately I was unable to make this meeting but I believe they laid on a brilliant evening with pamper sessions ranging from facials to reiki along with a few boutique stalls showing their wares.

If anyone has any photos from the evening, please do send them in to us and we'll publish them on the blog.

Lindy Hop with Brighton Boogie

This is a long overdue blog post following our amazing Lindy Hop evening back in June!

Brighton Boogie

Brighton Boogie

We were introduced to Helen and Nick from Brighton Boogie who entertained us with a proper boogie around the hall before getting up on stage to teach us a few moves.

Helen & Nick showing us their dance skills.

Helen & Nick showing us their dance skills.

They were a great pair of teachers who made it so much fun and pretty easy too!  I only struggled when it got to the Charleston - coordination is not my strong point and trying to get feet and hands going in different directions in time with the faster music ended up being rather comical, although quite a few members looked like naturals!  

It was, in fact, such a fun evening that Helen received lots of requests for further Charleston classes so she has started running a local 5 week course in Isfield which a few of our members have joined.  Term two is starting on 1st November if you'd like to join them!


Women's Institute 2016 AGM

The Women’s Institute - Is what you make of it, everything you want it to be and to inspire you.  Three key messages that came from this years AGM.

Today I was fortunate enough to go and observe the WI's AGM, held at the Brighton Centre.  I took my seat along with over 4500 women, ready to watch the resolution process in action (as a new WI we haven't been involved in voting), listen to some great speakers and meet other WI Members.

The entire NFWI committee sat on stage, i imagine in much the same way as thousands of WI’s sit across the country, behind tables adorned with the traditional tablecloth and floral displays.

We stood and sang a rousing chorus of Jerusalem.

Janice Langley, the National Chair welcomed us all, she talked about the importance of the WI, it’s role in education and described the members as Inspiring women who want to learn new skills, make new friends but above all make a difference.

She spoke in depth about Denman, it’s currently struggling financially due to the increasing costs of maintaining a large grade II listed building, more people need to attend courses and there are various campaigns to raise money to keep the facility open.  Only 3% of members currently use Denman which seemed staggeringly low.

Since January 2015 60,194 women have joined the WI taking the total to 226,402 members.  

The Treasurer stood and spoke of the WI finances, we seemed to have made significant losses (-£450k) with Denman a large chunk of the deficit, whist Denman was a real concern this years losses had been planned for and covered by previous rebates and VAT refund.

We moved onto the resolutions, having spoken to Shirley our advisor in advance she had  prepared me for some passionate discussions and she wasn’t wrong. I won’t go into the detail of the resolutions as we will hear lots about them over the next few months, the first proposed that 'people those with dementia having been admitted into hospital are allowed to have their carers stay and support them’ we heard people talk in support and against, those against arguing that the resolution just didn’t go far enough.  The votes were cast and the first resolution passed with 79.4% voting FOR.

Rona Fairhead, is introduced as the first guest speaker, she is Chair of the BBC Trust the first women to hold the post.  “As a business women, mother, cancer survivor your work has made a difference to me, the WI’s work has made a difference to thousands of women, of all ages, from all walks of life”.  

She then gave a talk about the BBC, it’s role to inform, educate and entertain and that whilst it couldn’t campaign like the WI it could put a spotlight on issues either through documentaries  or through storylines, the domestic violence one in the Archers being an example.

She summed up with a story of her son keeping her grounded, when she was promoted to the role he changed her screensaver to a picture of a tractor on a flagpole with the words “just because you are at the top doesn’t mean you are useful”.  

We broke for lunch, the sun was shining so en masse we headed to the beach,  I met some wonderful ladies from WI’s around the country, given lots of ideas for future meetings and had a few giggles about the idiosyncrasies of the WI.

We returned from our break to hear the second resolution, 'calling on supermarkets to reduce food waste and address food poverty' Again we heard arguments for and against, it was interesting to hear that of the 270k tonnes of food waste each year only around 2% of food waste came from supermarkets and 70% from the home it made me wonder if the resolution whilst well meaning might have been better aimed elsewhere.  I agreed with a member who argued we could be better placed in our 'educate' role within our community helping people reduce food waste by teaching them to cook.  

A member stood and said that the whole thing was a shambolic, the resolutions were badly worded and the whole process needed an overhaul, she received some backing from the floor but asked to keep to the point by the chair (I was later told that last year was a bit of a fiasco so they were keen to keep it on track this year).  

We had counter arguments that supermarkets were being disengenious with the 2% as that was post farm -  they actually cause huge waste for farmers by rejecting ugly/damaged/wonky food that is perfectly edible. In the end I think those who voted FOR felt you just had to start somewhere.

The votes were counted and the second resolution passed with 82.7% for.

Baroness D’Souza was our second guest, leader of the house of lords she gave an informative talk on the role of the House of Lords within the legislative process. She summed up its position with a quote from colleague Lord Michael Dobbs (writer of House of Cards) “We are really parliamentary worms, we take all this rubbish that comes from the other end of the building [the commons], and it disappears inside the House of Lords, in darkness, because nobody knows what it is we do, it reappears six month later.  It might not be perfect, but it is always more fragrant and more fertile than what went in” 

Janice returned to the stand to talk of the WI of the future, as women working together we have a collective voice; women influencing society and women’s roles in society…One person can make a difference; as WI Members we can make a difference, for example by putting forward a resolution.  A census of all members will be coming soon and we are urged to complete to make the WI representative of it’s members.  She ended with the messages "members are the WI, we all shape the organisation and its future is dependent on all of us"

We then wished the Queen a very happy 90th birthday.

The meeting was closed with music from the Uckfield Concert Brass Band accompanied by singer Sidonie Winter.

In all it was a fascinating day, some inspirational speakers, a lot of traditions (some good some not so much) and a heated, passionate debate.  I will be interested to see how individual WI’s are expected to campaign and get involved in the coming months. As for the key messages, I think our WI Is what you make of it, I hope it becomes everything you want it to be and you are inspired.

Leasa X 

Quiz Night

In May we had a fantastic quiz night organised by Tiffany and Heather, two of our committee members.  We had a lot of laughs and thoroughly enjoyed our first meeting with wine!  We heard about a few of our sub-groups which you can find more information about here.


As for the quiz, we had a great range of varied questions and some fantastic team names!  The winners on the night were the Snackless Belles and the wooden spoon prize went to the JarJas.  Congratulations to both teams!  ;)

Thanks again to Tiffany and Heather for such a funny and interesting quiz!

How the Uckfield WI began...

Our president and founder, Leasa, has written an article all about how our wonderful new group came about.

13 years ago… Fulham WI, the first of the new wave WI’s, was formed and reading the articles I instantly felt connected to the idea, the seed had been sown.  Fast forward to 2015 and ‘Cake Makers and Trouble Makers’ a documentary into the background and ethos of the WI
aired on BBC.  Here was a bunch of feisty, opinionated, passionate women ready to stand up
and be counted whilst also having fun… and I wanted to be part of it.

I sent an email to a few friends…  I’d looked into the local WI and it wasn’t for me, would
anyone join me if I started one up…  Surprisingly my friends seemed as keen as me!!

The new year dawned and I wanted to get started, first stop was the East Sussex Federation,
i was put into contact with Shirley Kirby a WI Advisor, we discussed the idea of starting a new
group for Uckfield and the Surrounding area and a few hours later we had a plan to create a
group for around 30-40 local women.

On the 21st January I published the Facebook page ‘Uckfield and Surrounding Area Women’s
Institute’ and forwarded the link to a few friends.  A date of the 29th February was set for the
exploratory meeting.

What followed was honestly quite extraordinary, after a week and through word of mouth alone there were 75 attendees, an article appeared in Uckfield Talk a few days later and the number shot up to 150.

The Kent and Sussex Courier picked up the story, following some lengthy interviews with
myself and Shirley an article was published, now we had over 220 people interested.

On the night just over 230 women came along.  I was supported by some amazing friends
answering questions, making tea and taking copious, detailed notes.  It was hot, we ran out
of seats and I really needed a bit more practice with a microphone.  BUT, its was clear there
was a huge demand for a group like this in the area.

Explaining that the number of members would have to be capped at 150 was hard, there just wasn’t a venue in Uckfield big enough to take everyone.  Shirley and I knew that we may
need to form a second group and thankfully we had a lady offer to start the ball rolling, they
have since gone onto form the Uckfield Divas.

Registration for the Uckfield WI opened at 8pm on the 8th March coinciding with
International Women’s Day.  

9 minutes and 53 seconds later we were full and there was a long waiting list.

There have been some extremely long nights, copious amounts of chocolate and wine and I
sometimes wonder what the hell I am doing, BUT, 8 weeks after publishing the Facebook site
we opened the doors on March 22nd to our first Uckfield WI meeting.  150 fabulous women
call themselves members and I am incredibly proud to be their president.

Gin Tasting

Thanks to Tiffany for taking some great notes at the gin tasting evening.  Sadly I was unable to attend at the last minute so I'm afraid I don't have anything to add nor any photos other than these I have downloaded.

1) William Chase, 40% (£26.99) - A Straight Cider gin from Hereford.  It has a citrus scent with a hint of floral & berry and has a sweetness.

2) Anno, 43% (£34.95) - A Straight Gin from Marden, Kent.  It is heavy on citrus and has Kentish botanicals, samphire being one of the main ones along with hops, lavender & elderflower among others).

3) Gordon Castle, 43% (£36.99) - A sipping Gin from Scotland (nothing to do with Gordon's Gin!).  It has heather & citrus as well as juniper, orange, berry & anise.


4) Voortrekker, 40% (£29.99) - A sipping Gin from Holland.  This one is macerated in oranges which gives it it's orange colour.  Great with tonic!

5) Anno Sloe Gin, 43% (£34.95) - This liquor begins as Anno premium gin (60%).  Anno Sloe Gin is beautifully balanced, deep and rich, with a distinctive almond nose and a big berry burst of flavour.  This can be lovely mixed with Prosecco.

Thank you to Charles from Noble Wines for all his expertise - if you'd like your own bottle of any of the gins we tried (or one of the other 55 he stocks!), he is offering WI Uckfield Belles 10% off until the end of April.  I know I'm heading down to grab a Voortrekker and some Fever Tree for the sunny spring evenings!

From what I heard, the Voortrekker and Sloe Gins were the most popular, which was your favourite?

Inaugural Meeting

Welcome to the new Uckfield WI blog!

Here you will find lots more information about what we as a group get up to including photos from our events and information about some of the wonderful businesses supporting our WI.

At our very first meeting, we participated in a fun workshop by Caroline Hart, a life and laughter coach, who told us a little about how she got into her line of work as well as getting us all up and moving around, mingling and chuckling, laughing and even ho ho ho-ing!  It was a great ice breaker and a lot of fun with most of us still giggling as we left.

Caroline Hart

Caroline Hart

Since we officially formed on the 22nd March there's been a lot going on behind the scenes too, Uckfield Baking Club became our new baking sub-group and a few of our members went along to their Yellow themed evening.  You can read more about it on the Uckfield Baking Club blog but a great deal of delicious cakes and biscuits were consumed during some great conversations about not just baking (including some biscuit troubleshooting tips), but also books, films, series and generally getting to know one another.  It was a great success with many cups of tea drunk.  If you're interested in joining in with the baking group, just visit the website for more information on how it works and how to join.

A few bakes from our Yellow themed event.

A few bakes from our Yellow themed event.

Plans for our next meeting are well under way with the planned gin tasting which will be run by Uckfield's very own Charles from  Noble Wines.  You may remember Leasa mentioned a few discounts we've managed to arrange for our members around town and Charles' Noble Wines is one such business who very kindly offered us 10% off.  Just show your membership card to receive the discount!

You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram or follow our Uckfield WI Pinterest page too if you like!  Pinterest is where I'll be pinning lots of ideas for meetings, sub-groups and just general bits and bobs our members might be interested in.  If you haven't been on Pinterest before, beware - it is addictive!

See you on the 19th, don't forget to book your taxi home if you can't walk to the gin tasting!  ;)