2018 Chairmans Speech
Good morning and once again welcome to the Lighthouse Theatre.
This day has been a long time in the planning and as I wrote this only two or three weeks ago my mind at that point was playing the most amazing tricks – waking up in the middle of the night having dreamt that this room was either overflowing or completely empty – or we were all out in the pouring rain – etc. However I have made it and thank you to you all for being here.
And I have stopped eating cheese at night!
I am going to focus on the past year and say that some times in the year I don’t think there was a Board member who knew where she was going, what she was doing or what part of the County she was in.
In May, I personally went as a WI Adviser to seven WI Resolution meetings, and then as Chairman to the Darts & Skittles final, the AGM in Cardiff then at the end of May and into June with our Trustees on Tour, from Brigstock in the North to Brackley in the South and it seemed like everywhere else in between.
Finally, at the end of June we had that incredible day at Althorp – over 1,000 members and their families – for months before I had been asked “what if it rains” and then we had probably the hottest day of the year. The banner parade was one of those emotional times that could not be repeated – the band played Jerusalem so many times – but the sight of WI members coming to the Gates of the House carrying their banners was just wonderful. Many of the banners are here today hanging around the public areas of the theatre – please do go and admire the work that has gone into them. I would like to make a special mention of Earls Barton WI who when I was at their Resolution tea and in full flow I suddenly realised that I was looking at my bedroom curtains.
You will see from the back of your souvenir programme how much support we have had from local companies – without a great deal of their help I feel Cate, who probably couldn’t go any whiter – would have been bald!!!!
Having managed to find ingredients for the cakes we then had to find cake makers so my thanks to Jane Cooke, Cate Purcell and Carolyn Stone who sprang into action – I am afraid my only contribution was three small bottles of brandy hidden at the back of the cupboard!!!
The Trustees on Tour came from a suggestion from Vice Chairman, Anne Seckington – that we couldn’t just go to WIs, eat cake, drink fizz and then disappear. Chris Farmer then came up with another great idea (I think) of asking former chairman Shirley Corke to write us some sketches!!!!
Well the rehearsals were hilarious, but it was whether the WIs would approve – I can only say that Margaret and Cate were asked to perform their piece at a WI’s birthday party – and are available for further performances!!!!
We were asked if we could do something today – but the general consensus amongst the board was a definite NO!
So a big thank you to Shirley for her writing skills
During the year, apart from the Centenary celebrations, all the committees have been working hard putting on events for you, the members – it is very difficult to know whether something will work or not – and all the enthusiasm from the committee members comes to nothing if they do not receive support from the members. If there is something that you feel they should be doing then please let them know – unlike in your WI when something can be talked about one month and then done the next there are hoops to be gone through to arrange an outing, an event or workshops. First of all a budget which will sort out the price of the ticket – we have to work in the admin costs and then come up with a price that is reasonable and will give something towards our running costs. It then has to be advertised for three months in the newsletter – and if you, the members, don’t read your newsletter – then you don’t come!!!!!
I am been very enthused by Walking Netball which with help from Netball England and National we have started in Wellingborough. We were all assessed by students from Loughborough University before the start and they will be coming again at the end to test how we have improved with our flexibility, movement etc. I didn’t know that I could get up from a chair without using the arms – but I wasn’t going to let some young student think I couldn’t do it. It is great fun and a way of keeping moving without too much effort. The core of those taking part have such a laugh and are becoming quite competitive. I’m not sure whether anyone watches Care homes for 4 year olds – but does feel a bit like that!!!!
I have realised over the last two or three years how much support I have had from the members – messages of support and last week a note from a WI Adviser (who unfortunately could not be here today) who reminded me of my first AGM when I spoke of a former Prime Minister who said that behind every great woman was a Dennis – and that my Dennis would surely be looking down on me today
I confirmed to the Board when elected last year that this would definitely be my last year – both as Chairman and on the Board of Trustees – it has been an incredible journey and one day I think I may put it all in writing – after I’ve been on a writing course at Denman!!
So finally, many many thanks to this group of wonderful Trustees – they, together with Jackie our Federation Secretary, Laura our Events Secretary and Tina our Accounts administrator have been with me all the way – and I thank them all.
And remember again without you there would be no WI and no Federation and no Centenary – you are all the inspiring women making the WI what you want it to be.
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