Member Profiles

Find out more about our members here!

Kara Luscombe

Why did you join the WI? 
I moved to the area in 2013 and saw an article about Cam City in a magazine. I thought they sounded like something that I’d like, but found that they were full. A few weeks later I got an email about starting a new WI – and the rest as they say, is history!

Where were you born? 
Elizabeth, in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia.

What’s your greatest extravagance?

Probably nice bath things (REN and Aromatherapy Associates are my favourites) and Liberty print fabric, accessories etc.

What are your favourite books? 

The Anne of Green Gables series and Jane Eyre

Where do you like to go on holiday and why? 

Since moving to the UK I’ve learnt to ski, and so my annual trip with friends is always a highlight. I’ve skied in France, Austria and Italy so far – beautiful scenery, great food and lots of laughs (mostly at the falls and mishaps!).

Lucy Gonzalez

Why did you join the WI?
I moved to Cambridge in January 2013 for work and didn’t know a soul – I wanted to make friends, but didn’t want to rely on work for that. I had tried to join a couple of WI groups in London (where I lived before Cambridge) but they were full, I was very happy to find that new groups were forming in Cambridge so put my name down on the wait list. 

What do you do for work?
I’m a project and funding manager at the British Antarctic Survey. I advise scientists on how to go about finding funding for their ideas and projects, and once they get it I make sure they spend it wisely and that they don’t have to worry about administrative issues. 

What is your claim to fame?
I’m in one of the smaller photos that Waitrose Kitchen used on their story about the WI! I was “famous” before then, though: when I was studying in London I worked as a waitress in special events and I appeared (in the background and in the title sequence) on a Gordon Ramsey show.

Who would play you in a film about your life?
I want to say Zooey Deschanel but only because I love her style and covet her hair and wardrobe. 

What’s your favourite building?

The Natural History Museum in London. I love all things historical and museum-y, but that building is so interesting and beautiful on its own. Have you ever noticed all the animals and plants carved on its walls and columns? Amazing.


Laura Petchey

Why did you join the WI? 
After I had rekindled my love of knitting, I wanted to be part of something bigger, I looked into the WI and saw how it was so much more then craft. I loved the basic principles that every woman is equal and that not only are we looking at women’s rights but the rights of everyone. (E.g. care not custody) 

What’s your greatest extravagance?
Probably my iPad it terms of dosh, but in relation to product I did once spend £15 on one skein of yarn, it was very very awesome though. 
Who would you most like to meet and why? 
Hampshire Women’s Institutes! I saw the documentary that was produced around Working Girls Welfare, and realised that the WI really can make a difference! 
How do you relax? 
Video Games (self confessed geek) A good book, Dungeons & Dragons, singing and knitting keeps me from unraveling. 
How would your friends describe you in three words?
‘Cool, classy & normal’…I’m just pulling your leg… Loyal, Geeky, Eccentric. 


Alice Pinches

What’s your greatest extravagance?
This would probably have to be yarn. I love to crochet and I have a naughty habit of buying yarn just because I love it, even though I haven’t got anything in mind to make with it. 

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Fitzbillies. I have a friend who’s a real foodie and gets greeted by name in Fitzbillies. He introduced me to this local institution before I actually moved to Cambridge last year and I love going there. Every time, I have to ask for an explanation of some of the things on the menu that I’ve never heard of, so it feels like I’m learning something new as well as supporting local producers and having a delicious meal.

How would your friends describe you in three words?
Sleepy. Busy. Silly. I sound like some kind of eighth dwarf!

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
There’s a great quote from Winnie the Pooh that I find to be very true: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

What’s your biggest fashion disaster?
There are photos of me at a non-school-uniform day in about 1993 wearing thick tights, psychedelic cycling shorts, a baggy teeshirt and a great big baggy cardigan that must have been borrowed from my mum by the looks of it!


Joanne Croxford

Why did you join the WI?After learning about how the WI helped the country during WWII, I too wanted to do my bit to help empower and inspire women to carry on the tradition of the movement.

What’s your greatest extravagance?Everything from the late 30’s/40’s! The clothes, the re-enactments, Lindyhop lessons, everything and all that holds a vintage glow!

What makes you happy?Being able to lead the Belles and the priviledge of being a WI President. I also relish in early to bed, early to rise, wholefoods, mother nature and the general feeling of oneness inspired by the universe and love.

Where would you most like to visit?Bletchley Park circa 1939-when Alan Turing was helping to establish Station X! Without his genius, who knows where we would be now. With that in mind, its with a long-overdue congratulations that the Government are looking to give him a post-human pardon. Apparently they are beginning to realise that one’s sexuality is as exclusive to each as the other. Alan is a beacon of inspiration in the LGBT community and I would have loved to have been a WREN cracking the Enigma at his side!

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?That love really is THE most important ingredient in all of life’s recipes. Overall, loving yourself should be the first brick to establish an unbreakable foundation.


Jo Elliott

Why did you join the WI? To meet new people and get involved with a local group.
How do you relax?
I really enjoy reading, and am on book 80 of the BBC Big Read Top 100 book challenge!

What makes you happy?
Being with friends and family.

Where would you most like to visit?
I’d love to go to Christmas Island when the crabs are out.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Don’t think too much!


Kelly Phillips

Why did you join the WI?
To meet some new people with similar interest.

What’s your greatest extravagance?
Hmmm…craft magazines and knitting supplies? 

If you could be granted one wish what would it be?
That my family would continue to be happy and healthy.

What would be your favourite three course meal?
My husband’s Spicy Lentil Bake and a dessert involving chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.
Who would you most like to meet and why?
The characters from Pride & Prejudice particularly Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. I want to know what happened next.

Fiona McArthur

Where are you from?
Lasswade, 7 miles south of Edinburgh
How would your friends describe you in three words?
 reliable and hard working. 
What is your claim to fame?
Appearing on Chanel 4 news (commenting after the budget announcement on how the government increasing employers national insurance was detrimental to business expansion).
Where do you like to go on holiday and why?
India – when I was in Girl Guides I did a project on the country so this sparked an interest, or Morocco.
What makes you happy? Watching my daughter when she is asleep (peace at last!) 

Laura Spencer

Why did you join the WI?To get to know more people living in and around Cambridge, to get involved with the WI’s campaigning, to learn some new skills… and eat delicious cake!
Where were you born?
Just up the road, at the Rosie Hospital at Addenbrooke’s

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Not strictly a restaurant, but the roof-top bar at the Varsity hotel is my favourite place in Cambridge. It has wonderful 360 degree views of Cambridge and seems to be a fairly well-kept secret.
What films do you like to watch?
I have a terrible taste in films and love a cheesy rom-com, but my all time favourite is probably Robin Hood Prince of Thieves – if only to chuckle at Kevin Costner’s terrible English accent!
What are your favourite books?Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini; Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian. 

Laura Pryke

Why did you join the WI?
I relocated to Cambridge from London last October, and so was looking make new friends and maybe learn some new skills along the way. Succeeding on both counts so far!
What is your claim to fame?
My hand-embroidered knitwear (insert shamelesss plug here: has been featured in Grazia magazine and, perhaps less illustriously, photographed on Cher Lloyd from X Factor…
Where do you like to go on holiday and why?
Well as I’ve been there for the last 3 years running I guess I’ll have to say Wales. It has such a variety of beautiful landscapes, but the Pembrokeshire coast is a particular favourite.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? 
I’m loathe to roll out such a cliche but “Happiness is a journey not a destination” does sum it up. I try my best to be content in the moment, not always chasing rainbows.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
I’m going to say Ruth Wilson because I love her, despite her bearing no resemblance physical or otherwise to myself. She’s extremely talented, I’m sure she’ll cope…