St Joseph's Ladies Circle, Gilesgate Moor; LAURA Farmer, leader of the Ladies' Circle, opened the monthly meeting with prayers and welcomed members.

Apologies were taken, minutes were read and the financial report was given by Lilian Taylor.

Final arrangements were made for the eighth birthday dinner at Bowburn Hall in February.

Members are to host the Women's World Day of Prayer at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church on Friday, March 7, at 1.45pm.

Events for the rest of the year were planned. The winner of the raffle was Vera Rooke. Members celebrated the first meeting of the new year with tea, wine and mine pies served by Jennie O'Hare and Elizabeth Wilson.

A very relaxed atmosphere pervaded the remainder of the evening as the ladies chatted informally, the business of the evening being concluded.

New Brandon WI

PRESIDENT Linda Griffiths welcomed members to the January meeting. The speaker for the evening was Rosie Biddlecombe from the Durham Portage Service, who gave an interesting talk about the Storysacks Project which aims to stimulate reading activities for young disabled children.

Some members expressed an interest in becoming involved in the project and this will be discussed at the next meeting of the craft group.

The competition for a spectacle case was won by Mrs Lynch. Members then enjoyed a picture quiz of Durham landmarks and concluded with a beetle drive.

The next meeting will be Tuesday 11 February in Silver Courts Hall Brandon, visitors welcome.

Belmont WI

AT the January meeting, president Marjorie Oates opened the meeting and wished everyone a happy New Year. Secretary Jean Morgan read the minutes of the last meeting. The president reported that we had an enjoyable Christmas dinner.

After tea and biscuits the speaker for the evening was Tony Elliott, who gave an informative talk and slide show on the history of Durham Cathedral. Jean Morgan gave the vote of thanks

Following the speaker members had a short Millionaire quiz. The competition, a cross and chain, was won by Ann Bowman, Elizabeth Anderson was second and joint third were Vera Holloway and Elsie Lofthouse.

The birthday girl for January was Sally Carr. Eileen Cairns, Hilda Cadwell and Irene Ledger won raffle prizes. Marjorie reminded members of our forthcoming outing to see Peter Pan at the Gala Theatre.

Marjorie closed the meeting with the National Anthem. The date of the next meeting is February 7 at 6.45pm in Belmont Comprehensive School gym.

Belmont TG

THE group held its first meeting of 2003 in Belmont Comprehensive School on Wednesday, January 8.

The chairman, Mrs Parker, opened the meeting, Mrs Harrison read the minutes of the previous meeting and Mrs Stobart gave the financial report.

After the business of the evening the speaker was Janet Thackray, who gave a very interesting slide show entitled Durham Old and New. Members thoroughly enjoyed the show seeing the many changes in the city over the years. Mrs Parker gave the vote of thanks.

The competition for a pretty shell was won by Mrs V Dixon, with Mrs B Bowman second, and Mrs E Scott third. Raffle prize was won by Irene Ruddick.

Esh Leaves WI

PRESIDENT Sylvia Green welcomed members to the meeting on January 13, and introduced new member Tina Naples.

Formal business was dealt with by secretary Sheila Vear before a discussion about the branch's financial position. In order to raise funds the president had put together a cryptic quiz, with a £1 entry fee, which members were asked to distribute among friends .

Another fundraising event will be held in March when Gillian Wesson will host a book sale and gift stall evening at her home.

Guest speaker Norman Kelly, always a firm favourite with members, gave an entertaining and informative talk entitled Paint your house with powdered milk and was thanked by the vice-president.

Gillian Wesson won the powder compact competition, which was judged by Mr Kelly. Doreen Densham and Edna Lucas were second and third. The monthly raffle was won by Sheila Vear.

As the traditional Christmas dinner evening out in December was cancelled, members decided to dine out in February instead so there will be no meeting that month.

The next meeting will be held on March 10 at 7.30pm in the Church of England School in Esh. Visitors very welcome.

Gilesgate Evening TG

THE guild held its meeting on Monday, January 6, at 7pm in the St John Ambulance Hall. Before business began members enjoyed pie and pies.

Chairman Jennie O'Hare welcomed all and wished everyone a very happy and healthy New Year.

The minutes were read by secretary Jean Tilly. The Federation Carol Service on December 7 at Hartlepool had been very enjoyable. The Salvation Army Songsters were wonderful. The guild Christmas dinner on December 9 at the Gretna Green Inn at Aycliffe had been enjoyed by all.

The financial report was given by the treasurer Sandra Mitchelson. Further business was discussed then Mrs O'Hare introduced member Shirley Whiteley, who organised a quiz about Durham. It proved very interesting and informative. The winner was Pat Doublett who also gave the vote of thanks to Shirley. The £2 surprise parcel draw was then done.

The competition, a bookmark, which was judged by Shirley, was won by Jean Tilly. The snowy and icy road conditions had prevented several members from attending the meeting. The next one will be on Monday, February 3. The speaker is to be Linda McDonna on make-up and body lotions.

Merry Oaks WI

MARGARET Thornhill, president, opened the meeting and welcomed members. She then introduced the speaker for the evening David Butler, who entertained us with several spine-shilling tales of the Ghosts of Durham.

The business followed where the use of a new microphone proved an asset. Nominations were requested for next year's committee. A coffee morning during the last year had raised an appreciable amount for favourite charities and will continue. A quiz ended the meeting.

The raffle winner was Irene Pollard, the competition winners Eira Evans and Edith Smith.

Next month is the AGM with a faith supper and a paperback book stall. The talk will be on wildlife.

Witton Gilbert WI

A VERY jovial and busy January meeting was attended by 45 members and guests. After the usual business meeting, Jean Geddes gave the Golden Thread entitled The Advantages of Being Over Fifty.

Rosemary Biddlecomb from Durham Portage Service introduced members to Storysacks and their benefits to young special needs children. Several members showed interest in assisting the project.

Members then enjoyed a supper of home-made soup, the sale of which raised £24 towards St Cuthbert's Hospice.

The Rev Paul Wood was the speaker for the evening giving a light-hearted illustrated account which covered his careers through catering, teaching and into the Methodist ministry. The competition for the largest button was won by Sheila Browbank.

The February meeting will be on Monday, February 11, at 7pm in the Cooper Hall when the speaker will be local businessman Norman Kelly. Visitors and prospective members are most welcome.