Thropton WI, January meeting

January’s meeting at Thropton WI reminds us that, far from being just a group of women in a Northumbrian village, we are in fact members of a national organisation whose motto is Inspiring Women.

The task was to vote on the national resolutions. The chosen resolution will become the National Federation of WIs’ next campaign.

Interestingly, in 1954 the resolution called for a campaign to ‘preserve the countryside against desecration by litter’ and the result was the creation of Keep Britain Tidy (KBT). KBT is now an independent charity which this year will celebrate its 60th birthday with Diamond Jubilee Awards.

It was with huge pleasure that we heard that our nomination of Ursula Mavin in the WI category has been successful. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Liverpool next month.

We all have our fingers crossed for Ursula who, with her small team, is regularly out litter-picking in Rothbury.

Hatches, Matches and Dispatches – the Humanist View was the intriguing title of our talk. The speaker was our very own member Chris Butterworth who, aside from being a past president of our WI, has been a past chair of the British Humanist Association.

Simply put, Humanism has no belief in the supernatural or in an afterlife. This life is it.

Humanists believe that we humans can work out our own codes for living and that many of the major world faiths’ codes are similar in many ways.

There is what is called the golden rule to treat others as you would wish to be treated (which exists in many faiths too). This rule can apply both within the family and between nations.

There is an emphasis on working things out, consequently Humanist views are not fixed, they can be changed in the light of new evidence and scientific discovery.

Humanists hold people centred ceremonies, namely baby namings, weddings and funerals.

Celebrants trained by the British Humanist Association will adhere to a scripted ceremony prepared in advance with the family. Chris is a humanist celebrant for baby namings and weddings and she takes funerals for family and friends.

In contrast to church and register office celebrations, Humanist hatches and matches can take place in gardens, village halls, beside the sea, in fact almost anywhere.

At weddings, the couple make their promises facing family and friends, thereby involving everyone.

Humanist weddings are not currently recognised in England and Wales, but Scotland has recognised them for a number of years. Funerals are usually a celebration of the life of the individual.

Chris finished with the words of the humanist novelist, George Eliot: ‘Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles. What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other.” The last line essentially summarizes the practice of humanists.

We all learned a great deal from Chris’s talk and judging from the questions many wanted to know much more.

Our next meeting is at 7pm on Wednesday, February 4, in Thropton War Memorial Hall. Mike Gowland’s talk will be A Slightly Unusual Childhood. New members are very welcome.