Sunday, 27 June 2010

NFWI AGM Cardiff

This is how I thought I should have looked when I set off for the NFWI AGM lat the beginning of June - that's what happens when you spend weeks looking through the WI archives.  Alas, gone are the days when women turned up in hats and gloves and looked like they'd just stepped out of a Barbara Pym novel.  Nor was there any booing either.  It was a relaxed, civilised affair, though not without its moments of passion - I was teary eyed more than once through the day and it was not all hay fever.

My journey started at Epping when I joined one of the coaches carrying delegates from the Essex Federation.  I'm glad I decided not to drive, because it gave me a chance to meet our Essex WI neighbours, including Angela from Stoke Newington WI ( hello, Stokey!)  and hear about what the WI meant to them, different in so very many ways to the East End WI, but at the same time underpinned by many of the same values - sharing knowledge and skills, supporting other women and building communities.  Sheena and Barbara from the Essex Federation did a great job in organising us and getting us to Cardiff safely - well done, them.  (Warning - if you find yourself anywhere near the Swindon Outlet Retail Park, accelerate out of there. My idea of hell on earth.)

Here are the highlights of a long day.

:: for starters,  hundreds of women singing Jerusalem, even if unlike them I didn't know it by heart ( oh, the shame) brings tears to the eyes.  It was recorded too this time, so you may be able to hear it yourself soon.

:: OK, I'm a nerd, but Honorary Treasurer Aleathia Mann gave a really competent presentation on WI finances, though  the news we heard later about the use of the WI brand on selected food products is something that will need careful monitoring.

::Speakers:  Gwen Parry Jones, the only woman Director of a nuclear power station. Tim Smit from the Eden Project, exhorting us to participate in the Big Lunch - round of applause for him for saying that we actually don't live in a broken society, though it is a little bit bruised in places, and promoting the contribution that events like the Big Lunch can make to communities.  Speaker John Bercow direct from the House of Commons via video link. And the lovely Lee Durrell talking about the work done in Jersey at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.  (More lumps in the throat for the saving of the small species they have saved.)

:: the perplexing sight of Only Men Aloud gyrating their hips and the standing ovation they received from thousands of women.  Even more perplexing - I joined in by belting out the chorus to Delilah at the top of my voice.  Hmm.  Something weird going on there.

:: hearing briefly about the Mums Matter campaign to improve maternal health in poor countries - do follow the link to read more and sign the petition.

The resolution for clear and mandatory labelling of country of origin on all meat, poultry and fish products got through with a massive majority so you'll be hearing more about that - you can read more about it in WI Life.  And there was a reminder to make best use of the residential and day courses and Denman College.

So, all in all a great to have represented you all and to experience what the WI means to all sorts of women from across the country.  Thank you so much for letting me go.

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