I didn’t seem to find enough time around the AGM to do a report of the year and felt that now would be good time for a reflection on the past twelve months of the EEWI. This will be the third term that I have been President of the EEWI after setting the branch up with Sorella Le Var in 2007 when we really had no idea what was going to happen and how the group was going to pan out. In 2009 the EEWI really began to grow and currently we have around 300 people on our mailing list , over 50 members and consistently have around 35 people at our evening meetings. At the most recent coffee morning we actually had over 20 people which is a triumph in itself.
Sorella and I decided some time ago that as well as evening meetings we needed to put on a coffee morning for those women who, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t want to go out in the evenings. After a very difficult start where we met at Chisenhale Art gallery and….. well, drank coffee, we realised we needed to venture out to the cafes of our local community. It turned out to be a wonderful idea taking us to a number of venues that we might not have visited before, some that we might not go to again and others that some of us have since been back to more than once. In 2009 we visited The Tower of London, Whitechapel Art Gallery , the Museum of Docklands , St Margaret’s House Gallery Café, La Bouche in Broadway Market, Hackney City Farm, the Museum of Childhood and the Geffrye Museum . I love the coffee mornings as its a really great way to meet each other in a more relaxed way than in the evenings and to meet new people who prefer the daytime events. The tough part of the coffee mornings of course is having to eat lots of cake and coming up with ideas for future coffee venues .
In the evenings this year we have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people and try out some really interesting skills. Since January we have done DIY with Home Jane, we’ve met Moira Cameron, the first female Beefeater at the Tower of London (who has since become a member of EEWI), we’ve tried life drawing with Kate Hardy, learnt about Homeopathy with Tracy Karkut-Law, discovered knitting with Prick Your Finger, made some Morsbags, met the charming Richard Reynolds and learnt about his Guerilla Gardening campaign, welcomed Neil Walker of the London Organisational Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympics Games (LOCOG), knitted Christmas decorations, made chocolate Florentines, created origami boxes and taken part in some Christmas flower arranging. On top of this at our resolutions meeting in May we voted to take on a campaign to save honey bees and pollenators and have incorporated bees into our AGM in November where some of you took the opportunity to showcase how very talented you all are in the arts and crafts world – baking, sewing, poetry, art, knitting and more, all on a bee theme. We’ve had quizzes and raffles, jewellery stalls and a number of charity speakers.
Its been a packed year in terms of our evening meetings but it doesn’t stop there. We have run really successful tea and cake stalls at Paradise Gardens , the St Barnabas Community Fete, Sportsjam, Friend’s of Mile End Park ’s Park Life, the Mayor’s story of London festival at Three Mills as well as supporting smaller events by donating our refreshment equipment or baking. We’ve performed in a dance festival, marched to stop violence against women, taken part in Earth Hour, walked for charity, been to see Calendar Girls and Hairspray in the West End and represented Essex Federation at the Annual General Meeting of the National Federation of Women’s Institute at the Royal Albert Hall.
Through the group’s commitment and generosity we have raised money, awareness and support for a number of charities, not least the U-Turn Women’s Centre, a charity very close to my heart. The idea that a group of local women support a charity run by women to support women in crisis seems to make perfect sense to me and I hope we are able to continue our support in the coming years especially the Christmas present project which once again in 2009 was overwhelmingly supported meaning that Rio was able to take a huge bag of presents back to the women’s centre for their Christmas party.
There is so much more, some that I have forgotten but far too much to include here. We have been extremely busy and have had brushes with TV and radio as well as being invited to take part in all sorts of projects, but for me personally the best part of being involved in the EEWI is that I have met so many wonderful, interesting and inspirational women. I’ve heard some amazing life stories, seen friendships form and, I hope, made some new friends myself. I have seen the EEWI as a real support for some and know that it has made an impact on the local community. I could not feel more proud to be involved in this group and am extremely excited about 2010. This will be my last term as President and I am looking forward to the next twelve months and to supporting the next person in any way I can.
Thanks to everyone who has been involved in the last twelve months, especially the committee who I consider to be some of my dearest friends, but also to all of those people who joined, came along, tried something new, baked, enjoyed themselves, helped out, or in fact did anything at all because all of you are what makes the group what it is.
Here’s to 2010
Niki Stevens, President EEWI