Sad News

Sadly, our President, Marjorie Norrell, has passed away after a short illness. We all have very fond memories of Marjorie and her contributions to our branch. Below is the lovely and moving tribute that our Chairman, Susan Fletcher, read at her funeral :-

Marjorie Norrell (10th July 1924 – 17th October 2016)


Marjorie was one of the founder members of the Chichester branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild. She was introduced to it by Mrs Bonsey who was looking for involvement from members of local WI branches. It was she who started the tradition of the Summer Parties, which Marjorie continued.

After her long and loyal membership, it was my honour and pleasure to invite Marjorie to be our president. Her response was “Why are you asking me, I haven’t done anything?”

Maybe we could just spend a moment and look back at what “I haven’t done anything” meant.

She organised making a set of kneelers for this Church, she felt it needed colour and set about getting the whole village involved either sewing the kneelers or helping to fund the materials so now these kneelers are made by…. or in memory of…. so many people in the village.

She told me that when the branch first formed, they couldn’t afford speakers so they learnt from one another. Nevertheless she helped fundraise by organising a sales table.

“I’ve learnt such a lot”, she told me “…. and I have taken from that and gone my own way”. And what she did can be seen in the exquisite examples of her work, all finely executed and beautifully presented.

She loved making lace and some of the more traditional techniques of needlework but was always keen to learn and experiment.

Miniature embroidery for her dolls house was a special love. She was also eager to take part in the group projects, for example the Four Seasons embroideries which can be seen hanging in St Richard’s Hospital

This lovely work is very different from some of her early experiences of needlework when during the war she worked in the New Forest making leather seat cushions for bombers using huge industrial sewing machines!

These were things that Marjorie told me, but what other people told me was about her enthusiasm, how willing she was to share and help others with their needlework, how welcoming and helpful she was to new members, all the sort of things that are so important in a core member of any organisation.

Just as learning from others was important for her, so was passing on her knowledge, whether that was kneelers for the church, helping and advising through the Guild or teaching lace making to the girls and boys at the local school.

Then there were the summer parties when Marjorie would invite us to spend time in her garden which she loved so much, to sew or sketch and then join in a shared lunch, so we could appreciate colour, inspiration, companionship – so much of what the Guild is about.

Health problems kept her away from recent meetings but she was able to join us for the party in August when the branch celebrated its 30th birthday.

A lovely occasion, leaving all of us who were there with very very happy memories.


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