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Fovant Independent Ladies Group

Originally we were a small W.I. group however we became independent in 2015 in order to reduce running costs and work towards becoming a more informal get together of friends and newcomers.


The meetings take place once a month on a Thursday evening in Fovant Village Hall and are accompanied by various interesting speakers or organised craft workshops.


Twice a year there are what have become very popular annual events; the garden party and a summer outing. Past visits have included days out in Wells and Winchester and the Bombay Sapphire gin factory.


Each year a local charity is chosen by the members and supported by raffles and donations.


Everyone is welcome, membership is £25 for the year and non-members £5 per visit.


For more information, email


Autumn/Winter 2023 Programme
All meetings take place on a Thursday at 2.30pm in the Village Hall.


Thursday 14th September - 'How secure is your Home?'


‘Bobby Van’ Visit by the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust; specialists in home security for the over 60’s in Wiltshire. Come & find out how to stay secure in your own home!

Thursday 12th October -‘Autumn Pleasure’


Flower arranging with an autumn theme! Come along & enjoy a relaxing afternoon watching the creation of an Autumn display by expert Maureen Hinton. One could be yours if you spend a £1 to buy a raffle ticket!

Saturday 14th October JUMBLE SALE!


A welcome return after 3 years! AM only.

Thursday 9th November ‘The Cake Forge’

A welcome return visit by Dan! He is a very talented cake design artist so a chance to learn a skill ready for that Christmas cake.

Thursday 7th December ‘Christmas Event”


Exciting Christmas event details to follow!

For more information about any of our events, please contact or telephone 714900 or 714654.


The Girls at Chawton House - Summer Outing 2022

LATEST FILGroup Reports


Summer Garden Party - 6 July


After a few days of unsettled weather it was a relief to see the sun shine on the evening of July 6th as members and friends gathered in the garden of Gervase House for FILGroup’s annual garden party.  There was plenty of Prosecco and Pimms to wash down the selection of nibbles and canapés provided by the committee and plenty of friendly banter and conversation to enjoy as people sat in groups in the garden or chatted on the decking.  A raffle was held with the proceeds going to FILGroup’s charity The Trussell Trust.  

FILGroup takes a break during August but will be present at the village fete on 19th August serving delicious cream teas and selling homemade cakes in the tea tent.  Hope to see you all there!  We have an exciting list of events  being planned for September to Christmas with fun workshops and guest speakers.  















Summer Outing - 8 June Whitchurch Silk Mill

The annual June outing this year was a sunny trip to the Whitchurch Silk Mill stopping first at Rosebourne (now Hilliers) garden centre for coffee and shopping.  15 members produced a lot of convivial chatter over the coffees but finally people broke away to discover the delights of the various departments of the garden centre before we were back on the road heading to Whitchurch and the oldest working silk mill in the UK.   A lunch of sandwiches, cake and refreshment awaited us in one of the upstairs rooms of the mill, after which we were introduced to our guide who gave us a very informative tour of the Georgian building including the recently restored water wheel and a working demonstration of one of the Victorian looms.   The story of silk from worm to thread to finished article was not only quite amazing but explained clearly why it remains so expensive.  The little gift shop produced a lot of interest as did a cooling wander outside to admire the very pretty location of the mill and the River Test.  We arrived back in Fovant about 4.30 having had a very enjoyable day.

May Meeting 'Dorset Buttons' with Anna McDowell

If, like me you always thought that a button was just a button, then Anna McDowell’s informative talk about the cottage industry “Dorset Buttons” would quickly change your mind. Currently the Chair of the Gold Hill Museum where many of the buttons are on display, Anna explained how the industry originated in Shaftesbury in the 1620’s, becoming a major feature throughout east Dorset producing traditional thread buttons for both practical and decorative wear and creating employment for many families for 200 years. With the invention of the button machine in the 1830’s and the popularity of pearl buttons the industry began to decline, reviving briefly until the first world war when the industry died out completely. Now the traditional sheep’s horn, thread and fabric buttons are not only becoming more collectable but are also being used in big costume dramas such as for Carey Mulligan’s wardrobe in 'Far from the Madding Crowd'. To complete her talk, Anna showed us some of her own artistic work demonstrating the contemporary use of Dorset Buttons. Many thanks Anna for a most interesting afternoon.

April Meeting 'Living in an AONB & our Dark Sky Status'

Although we are all very fortunate to live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, I’m sure for many of us there have been times we’ve cursed the lack of street lights in our villages!  For all the members and friends of FILGroup I would suspect they will think twice before doing so again after Steve Tonkin’s interesting and informative talk about our Dark Skies, the reasons they are so good in our area and the dreadful effects excess artificial lighting in our towns and cities has on the planet’s ecosystems, nocturnal wildlife and human health.   More than 90% of the UK population cannot experience the Milky Way due to bad lighting shining upwards and causing ‘skyglow’ which hides the stars. Billions of birds die each year not just from lack of habitat but through exhaustion as their days become longer, or through migrating too early. Declining insect populations, fatally attracted to artificial lights, negatively impact all species that rely on them for food or pollination.  Perhaps we should all take the time to get out at night and do some stargazing to help us appreciate not only where we live but also what the AONB is daily trying to preserve and improve for everybody, namely our dark skies.  £30 was raised for this year’s charity the Trussell Trust.

March Meeting 'Reflexology' 

The guest speaker for FILGroup’s March meeting was local reflexologist Pip Zingg who gave a fascinating insight into the art of reflexology.  In her warm and easy manner she explained how she first became interested in reflexology when her mother was very ill, then proceeded to show us with the aid of a special map how the eleven body systems are mapped out on the soles of the feet so that the treatment is not only deeply relaxing but can be beneficial in relieving tension and stress, increasing circulation, improving sleep and boosting the immune system.  Now fully qualified and insured in Reflexology and `Reflexology Lymph Drainage, she practises from her own charming clinic at her home in Fovant.  Pip concluded her talk with a demonstration of her expertise on committee member Jane Hallett explaining her technique to the audience as she worked. Jane loved it and was so relaxed she found it hard not to fall asleep!  Our thanks to Pip for giving up her time and sharing with us her knowledge of such an interesting subject.


(I can personally now vouch for the fact that it is a wonderful experience)



February meeting “PTSD - the Hidden Menace”


Professor Nigel North, Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist at Salisbury District Hospital, very kindly gave up his time to talk to FILGroup members and guests about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - dubbed ‘the hidden menace’ because of its ability to affect anyone of us at any given time. Tea and biscuits were served on arrival and everyone had time for a catch up with friends before the start of the talk.  Addressing a full hall Nigel proceeded to deliver his lecture with a mixture of humour and sobriety, full of interesting facts and figures to help us understand the complex nature of this condition and everyone left with a lot more knowledge of the situation than when they went in.  The afternoon  ended with questions from the audience and a raffle in aid of Nigel’s chosen charity The Stars Appeal, to which everyone gave generously and £50 was raised.  Our sincere thanks to NIgel (and able assistant Viv) for giving us such an interesting afternoon.


January Meeting 'Welcome to 2023 & Jewellery Workshop'


January saw us back in the village hall but still in good cheer, despite a very wet and miserable day.  To celebrate a new time for the New Year (meeting between 2.30 and 4.30 instead of in the evenings for at least the next three months) we offered a convivial afternoon of tea and cakes and a glass of prosecco with the option of learning how to make a beaded necklace.  Everyone took up the workshop and there were some very impressive results.  Thanks to Linda Bailey for doing such a great job as our teacher.

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The very talented Karen Lockyer, professional beauty therapist and businesswoman, joined us for the November meeting and wowed us with her knowledge and experience of all things make-up.   She told us how after moving  to London at 17 she eventually met a make-up  artist who offered to help get her on her way.  By her own admittance, she was thrown in at the deep end doing many different celebrity shoots, the first of which was Boy George!  She gained experiences in the theatrical, photographic and fashion show sides of the industry, before taking off in her late 20’s to go travelling.  This enabled her to work with different people and skin types.  On returning to England she took up teaching before finally moving back to Wiltshire and setting up her own successful business running make-up and massage workshops for the pro age woman.  A very friendly and natural speaker, she demonstrated her art on one of our members, showing us all how it should be done.  Consequently, I think Boots may run out of brushes by the end of the week!  Thank you Karen for a fascinating and fun filled evening




After Covid forced the cancellation of Filgroup’s annual garden party in July followed by the summer break, members and friends were finally welcomed back with a glass of prosecco and another interesting talk by Elizabeth Green about her latest challenge raising money for the Salisbury Hospice.  As if cycling all around Sri Lanka during political unrest and on anything but smooth terrain wasn’t enough to cope with, simply getting out of Heathrow proved quite a headache due to a three day delay.  At least whilst holed up in a hotel the small group were able to bond and once they were on their way the rest of the trip went without a hitch.  Despite the protests and riots going on in the country, Elizabeth spoke enthusiastically about the warmth and friendliness of the local people, their poverty and generosity, the country’s corruption and the  beautiful scenery.  Having raised an impressive £3,000 for the Hospice, she is now preparing for her next challenge, cycling from Ho Chi Minh to Angkor Wat.


October’s meeting, “Behind the scenes at Waitrose”, developed into a most enlightening afternoon.  We gathered in the cafe for a natter over tea and cakes before meeting our guide, manager Richard Meaburn who proceeded to take us behind the scenes.  During the next hour he explained in detail how the largest Waitrose outside of London functions, from time  charts and communication systems, to deliveries, night shifts, walk in freezers and fridges, handling of stock, including Click and Collect items and the disposing of the cardboard, plastic and waste water. We were all fascinated by the small room upstairs that is Security and whilst on our tour we witnessed first hand how being a fast runner is a high priority!   Currently operating with 450 staff, they are hoping to fill 50 vacancies before Christmas to allow them to continue to provide an efficient service.  It would certainly seem that all staff are very well looked after with many benefits available to them.   Our thanks to Richard for such an interesting afternoon and to Waitrose for accommodating us.  I am sure our future in store shopping will seem a very different experience!




Outing to 'Chawton House & Jane Austen's Home'

A very interesting day out was enjoyed by all when the group visited the quintessentially English Elizabethan Chawton House, once owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward, after he inherited the estate from his wealthy benefactors.  Due to this inheritance he was able to provide his spinster sisters (Jane and Cassandra) and his widowed mother with the pretty cottage on the estate where Jane wrote most of her famous novels.  After a detailed tour of the house with its wonderful original old floors and panelling, interesting but complicated history of succession, and famous library with its unique collection of women’s writing between 1600 and 1830, the group made their way up to the village for lunch.  Before heading home there was time to visit Jane’s cottage, small and neat and preserved as it would have been in her time but in stark contrast to the “Big House”.


Events coming up are a return visit by Elizabeth Green to tell us about her most recent challenge - cycling through Sri Lanka in aid of the Salisbury Hospice - an evening of Reflexology and a make up demo.


On a lovely sunny May afternoon, Celia and David Haselgrove very kindly opened their beautiful garden to Filgroup members and friends.  David began by welcoming us all to Foxhill and explaining how when he and Celia decided to move to the area, they eventually chose Foxhill because the garden had just the right soil, and confessing that gardening was his absolute passion, he knew this because he always carried a spade when house hunting so he could do a soil test!  We were all invited to browse at our leisure and David was never far away to answer all of our questions and to point out his favourites, in particular the amazing Lady Slipper Orchids.  The afternoon ended very socially with everyone chatting and enjoying a glass or two of Pimms in the sunshine.  Our thanks to David and Celia for a very enjoyable afternoon.



It was maybe a little messy and perhaps frustrating at times, but lots of fun was had at Filgroup’s April meeting when members were encouraged to not only decorate a chocolate Easter egg but also cut out and make a box for the egg to stand in, then wrap it in pretty cellophane ready for presentation.  Filgroup provided all the essentials plus edible flowers, Easter chicks, chocolate, ribbons and cellophane and Linda did a wonderful template for the box with simple instructions for everyone to follow.  The results were impressive, especially after a slight icing nozzle ‘crisis’ and everyone turned out some very pretty eggs.  Anne Mallalieu provided wonderful spring flower arrangements which were later included in the raffle of a large boxed Easter egg, helping to raise £50 towards the Air Ambulance charity.


Fred Swift alias The Wiltshire Beekeeper - or simply the bee man - was Filgroup’s guest speaker for the March meeting, and what an interesting talk he gave us.  With his years of experience tending his many hives stretching across the whole of Wiltshire and into Hampshire he was able to regale us with many fascinating facts about bees, their different personalities, the care they need, the things they don’t like and the complicated infrastructure of their hives.   Perhaps the stories of how he collected swarms captured most of our imaginations and the photographs he passed around as he talked gave us close up shots not only of the different bees, swarms and bee attracting competitions but also of a bee stinging his own arm, the barb piercing his flesh and the bees stomach attached to it like a piece of string as it tries to fly away.   Of course it would be difficult to talk about bees without impressing how very important they are to our very existence and the many dangers they face including the reintroduction of neonicotinoids on sugar beet.  However, a real surprise was the problems beekeepers face from woodpeckers, mice, deer, badgers, moles, wasps and the wax moth, plus the theft of whole hives!  Fred and his partner have built their successful company to include the selling of all sorts of honey products (available on the evening), attending the big shows like Chelsea Flower Show, collecting swarms, and giving talks.  They have also been called upon to supply suitable candles on set for many films and series including Game of Thrones.  Thanks to ‘the bee man’ for such an interesting and entertaining evening.


Beauty consultant Janet Pegrum joined us for our February meeting to talk about Neal’s Yard Remedies and how their products can help us all look after our skin without absorbing any unhealthy properties.  We learnt how the company was founded in a small corner of Covent Garden in 1981 and has slowly grown over the years to become the global leader it is today, initially helped by a Daily Mail survey which placed their moisturiser as the top ten best buy. Still privately owned, the company follows the same guidelines and beliefs that Romy Fraser originally intended, that the products should be chemical free and animal friendly, using only natural, organic ingredients sourced from all around the world.  Many of the Neal’s Yard products were on display for purchase and Janet had kindly donated a raffle prize, proceeds of which will go to the Air Ambulance service.




The ever wonderful Roz Liddington bounced back into the village hall for Filgroup’s first meeting of the year and instantly lit up an otherwise cold and miserable January evening.  With her vast collection of old clothes, accessories and historical artefacts, plus her energy and enthusiasm, she transported us all back in time through old portraits and posters, referring to them as  ‘a blink in time’.  Her collection is remarkable and very nostalgic.  A lot of the items we could worryingly remember our mothers and grandmothers wearing or using. Various knitting and sewing patterns, beautiful lace and real furs, non pc now but a definite part of our history, and corsets!  The highlight of the evening was seeing two of our members dressed in garments from the late Tudor and Victorian eras.  Jane  ‘swished’ about well in a beautiful Tudor gown, unfortunately open at the bodice and waist as it was so tiny.  Due to the large hooped petticoat worn underneath, Roz demonstrated how she should sit without the skirt flipping up into her face.  Meanwhile Celia donned split drawers, a bustle, over skirt, lace cuffs, lace collar and headdress topped by a magnificent opera cape. How lucky we are today with our easy-care, easy wear clothes.  Our thanks go to Roz for such an entertaining and highly amusing evening enjoyed by everyone.





Elizabeth Green from Total Foot Health in Salisbury, made a second visit to Filgroup, this time to talk about her life changing experience walking 45 miles along part of the Great Wall of China in aid of the Stars Appeal.  Having decided to join the group after attending a meeting on the proposed walk in 2018, there followed months of training, gradually building up their walking distances and getting to know each other.  There were 50 in their group of all ages and from all walks of life, with 80% women and the oldest being 72.  Everyone had their own problems and as time went on and they all bonded, people gradually began to open up and share their personal stories and reasons for doing the walk.   After a fun filled flight to Beijing, then a cold and miserable first night fuelled by jet lag and very basic accommodation, they awoke to their first amazing views of China and a morning full of promise of what was to come.  Throughout their challenge the scenery was obviously wonderful but the wall in parts less so.  Her photographs showed how so much of the wall has fallen away to just rubble, the original steps are high, broken and uneven, and sometimes they had to negotiate a single track path with dramatic drops on either side.  Before returning home they were given a sightseeing trip in Beijing, then half of the group went on to Xian, but Elizabeth emphasised that despite the wonderful sights and delicious food, what she will never forget is how a group of strangers came together in the midst of their own troubles, bonded and supported each other and in so doing raised £30,000 for the Stars Appeal.  Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your experiences with us and we hope you will return and tell us about your future challenge cycling from Ho Chi Minh to Angkor Wat for Salisbury Hospice.



FILgroup members and friends enjoyed a visit to the JHG jigsaw factory in Ashmore. Originally planned for last year and cancelled due to Covid, the visit proved well worth waiting for. Julie was an excellent tour guide, explaining how 27 years ago she and her husband sank all their savings into setting up the business, finding the premises and buying  the huge second hand machinery which they then had to learn to operate.  The business has gradually built over the years but really took off during the lockdowns when they were obliged to take on more staff to  keep up with demand.  They are one of only four companies in the UK whose product is completely British made, despite competition from China and the increasing difficulties of keeping costs down.  After the tour Julie provided a very welcome cup of tea and homemade cakes before we all left for home clutching our jigsaw purchases.


On Thursday 9th December the FILGroup welcomed 25 guests to a Christmas buffet in the village hall.  The evening kicked off at 7pm as the committee members greeted guests with a glass of Prosecco and a mouth-watering selection of handmade canapes, which everyone agreed were delicious.  The guests then sat down at the festive tables to enjoy a hot and cold buffet which included turkey, ham, coronation cauliflower, lentil loaf, potato and celeriac gratin, plus a selection of salads, bread, pickles and sausage rolls, washed down with wine, beer and soft drinks.  If anyone had any room left after all that there was then a choice of amazing desserts followed by coffee and warm mince pies.  Much fun was had by everyone with Christmas crackers and a couple of picture quizzes.  We hope that all the guests left feeling very well fed and full of Christmas spirit.  The attendees were full of praise for the wonderful spread which was all home-cooked and prepared by committee member Marilyn Willoughby with assistance from her daughter Tara.  Details of upcoming events for the next 4 months were handed round and the FILGroup look forward to welcoming old friends and new in 2022 and wish everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year.




December brought a most memorable evening for FILGroup members and their partners at 'The Greater Good Inn', Fovant, to celebrate the start of Christmas.  Alex, the Chef Patron, served up a delicious three course meal followed by mince pies and coffee and the staff looked after us all exceedingly well allowing everyone to relax and chatter and enjoy the crackers, jokes, wine and food.  A bottle of Prosecco was awarded to the person with a lucky number on their ticket.  Our sincere thanks to Alex and his team for giving us such an enjoyable evening.

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Jane Austen's writing Desk

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'The ' shirt worn by Colin Firth

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