I had the privilege to attend our annual meeting in Brighton as delegate representing Broomhill, Shilbottle, Warkworth and Acklington WIs.
Beginning with that iconic moment as NFWI chairman, Janice Langley opened proceedings by inviting almost 5,000 in the vast auditorium of the Brighton Centre to join in singing Jerusalem, the programme continued with the chairman’s address, in which she looked back at the centenary events of the past year, which had been “a year to remember”.
The roots of WI lay in the promotion of education, to feed the nation, and not to let food go to waste, and this is reflected in our aims today.
She highlighted the importance of Denman College in this, with several new projects soon to be accessible through the media, such as The Food Club and textile and crafts to download.
Rising costs necessitated the current fund-raising campaign for Denman.
However, the organisation overall continues to grow, with a membership of 222,402 to date.
The two Resolutions took up the main part of the meeting, firstly ‘Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia’, followed by ‘Avoid food waste, address food poverty’.
Speakers expressed a range of views before votes were taken, resulting in each resolution being passed, the first by a majority of 79 per cent and the second by 83 per cent.
There were two guest speakers.
Rona Fairhead, BBC Trust Chairman, saw much in common between the two organisations in wanting to make a difference and campaigning to do so.
The second guest speaker, Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza, gave an illuminating insight into the work of the House of Lords.
After an entertaining, though controversial, rendition of singing and flag waving in the style of ‘Last Night of the Proms’, followed by the anthems, we dispersed with what seemed in general a feeling of encouragement, together with the benefit of meeting up with members from other institutes and sharing our ideas and experiences.
Meanwhile, for our group meeting, we enjoyed a garden party at the home of our president.
The weather was kind enough to allow us to spend a very pleasant afternoon relaxing and conversing in the garden over Pimms and an elegant party spread.
Thanks to all who provided the food, and to Sylvia and Don for making their home and garden available.