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It’s Coco not cocoa for Stokes Bay WI

By Pam Marsden
AT OUR meeting this month we enjoyed the welcome return of Steve Herra who had been purser on the QE2.
Later he joined the Royal Naval Reserve and served aboard HMS President.
This time Steve talked to us about the life, loves and lies of French fashion designer Coco Chanel… and there were quite a few lies!
Born into poverty, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was brought up in an orphanage and fabricated different stories about her childhood.
She learnt about the garment industry and, for a short time, was a shopgirl before working for a few years as a café singer and sang, some would say, like a crow. That is
where she became known as Coco and the name stuck.
Coco was the founder of the Chanel brand and who can forget her ‘little black dress’ or the iconic No 5 perfume? As she said herself: “Fashion changes but style endures.”
As President of Stokes Bay WI, Angela MacCallum said: “Coco’s complicated romantic life, her liaisons with the Germans during World War Two and the introduction of bell-bottom
trousers are all associated with her name.
“And members were fascinated to hear all about her. Books, films, plays and a musical all recall the unique person who was Coco Chanel and we enjoyed all the tales of intrigue from Steve.”
Stokes Bay WI, a registered charity, has a varied programme on offer each month with something to appeal to everyone. If you are interested in membership, please email
to obtain further details or check us out on social media.
We meet on the third Tuesday of the month in St Mary’s Parish Centre, Green Road, Alverstoke, from 10am to 12 noon and also have outings and interest groups. We enjoy friendship and fun at our meetings and make our new members very welcome.
PICTURED: Stokes Bay WI guest speaker Steve Herra during his talk on Coco Chanel