Women's Institute Stalwart Reveals Her Life Experiences and Beliefs (and She Makes Jam!); Valerie Wood-Gaiger Has Been Declared an Ultimate Member of the WI after a Search by Television Channel Sky. the 67-Year-Old, from Myddfai, near Llandovery, Gives Us Her Verdict on the Credit Crunch, Racy Calendars and Sex Advice for the Over-50s
Byline: Valerie Wood-Gaiger
Q: How well has the credit crunch been handled by the Government?
A: I think Gordon Brown has been quite clever with his strategy - he's not just giving banks money to get rid of the problems, the money is a loan and it must be paid back. I think getting rid of the 10p tax was a mistake, but this recent move is good. I think it is an investment in the banks.
Generally, I think it is upsetting to think of the difficulties and worries some people will face, but I think there are things we can do to be a little more economical. Children of my time were brought up by the generation who survived the war. I can remember the end of rationing and eating my first peach and banana. I was taught never to waste.
There are also other things people can do.
Turn televisions off rather than leave them on standby. Making your own foods can also help. I do little things like eating dark rather than rich chocolate. You eat less, and being a little more economical helps your personal finances.
Q: Aren't we too busy worrying about the economic slump to care about green issues?
A: Being green goes back to the credit crunch. I have just had my home insulated - it is nice and cosy and I spend less money keeping it that way.
Q: The American presidential elections are less than three weeks away. Do you prefer the Democrats' Barack Obama or Republican John McCain?
A: I was one of those people who marched in London about George Bush going into Iraq. I was one of those people who stood up to be counted and politicians ignored us, but history proved us right.
I wouldn't like to say which candidate I prefer but what I can say is that I am glad that part of history is over and I hope the new president will make moves to ease the suffering of people in Iraq.
Q: Having met Prince Charles shortly after he purchased a house in Carmarthenshire, what do you think of the Royals?
A: The WI put on a tea for the visit and made Welsh foods like parsley cakes which originated in Gower. We also met Camilla who came along to our branch in Myddfai as a visiting member of the WI, and not in her capacity as the Duchess of Cornwall.
She had coffee with us and spoke to everyone, I think she is a very nice lady.
I'd say one of the great things about the British monarchy is that the Queen sits as head of the Armed Forces, Head of State and head of the Church of England.
While she does this we cannot have the dictatorships we see in some countries.
I also think the Royal Family are great value for money in terms of the revenue they bring in through tourism.
Q: What do you think of theWIimage as an organisation for middle-class, middle-aged women?
A: I first joined the WI as a young woman, then became a lapsed member until I reached the age of 61. I live alone and need networks and I think it's important to reach out to women nearing retirement as their lives will soon change.
We are also running campaigns to encourage younger people to join. In the last year, the Myddfai branch membership has doubled from seven to 14, which I think is rather impressive for the size of the town (415 residents according to the 2001 census).
Q: Why did the WI decide to create sexual health advice booklets for the over-50s as part of the Sky Learning series? …