Leicestershire and Rutland Federation of Women’s Institutes
Annual Council Meeting
Hangar 42, Bruntingthorpe, Lutterworth, Leics.
Saturday 10 March 2018
Attended: Janet Bilby, Barbara Burnish, Lindsey Cleggett, Pat Lake, Marion Lawrie, Jo-Ann Millington, Rosemary Raymond, Helen Roberts, Ann Rushton, Jean Parkes, Gill Pavitt and Jean Penny (delegate)
NFWI Chairman’s address: Lynne Stubbngs welcomed 1400 ladies to the ACM and congratulated us on the centenary of the Leicestershire and Rutland Federation. She told of her WI journey from her intention of joining her local branch 38 year ago for just ‘a couple of months’ in order ‘to get to know a few people’ to being elected as chair to the NFWI (National Federation of WIs) in 2017.
Chairman’s address: The Centenary celebration will be held on 19th August at Beaumanor Hall Woodhouse Eaves Leicestershire. This is the actual day the federation was formed 100 years ago. She spoke of how the L&R Federation started in the same year as women got the vote, and the changes that have happened in the last 100 years to women’s lives.
Treasurer’s report: There is a surplus of £22,000. This is due to the subscriptions and the fund raising events held during the past year.
Lady Gretton, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire: Lady Gretton explained that the role of the Lord Lieutenancy, formed in the reign of Henry 8th, was being responsible to uphold the dignity of the Crown. She was appointed in 1975 as the first lady Lord Lieutenant of Leicester and Leicestershire and must retire this year at the age of 75 after 15 years’ service. The tasks of the Lord Lieutenant are to support the visits of the Royal family to the city and county, present medals and honours, participate in community, civic and voluntary activities in the county and liaise with the uniformed services. Her talk was illustrated with stories and photos of her work of Leicester and Leicestershire.
Mandy Hickson: Mandy addressed the ACM with great enthusiasm and spoke of her journey and determination to fly: from a 13 year old in the ATC, to gaining her private pilot’s license aged 17, even before she passed her driving test to becoming one of the few Tornedo pilots in the RAF. She spoke of how women think differently to men and how the male oriented RAF took her as a test case and ultimately adapted the computer generated RAF pitot tests. When she attended a reunion of Tornedo pilots she was one of only three women in a room of 400 men! Her talk was illustrated with amazing photographs and tales such as flying as low as 100ft above the ground with no GPS, the skills involved in refuelling in mid-air, her experiences on duty in Iraq and flying home over the Atlantic, having just left exercises in the USA, on the day of 9/11 and receiving the message that America was shut without knowing why. Her reflections on leadership and the importance of team work were related to the WI of today. She got and truly deserved a standing ovation.
Pennies for friendship: £3,700 has been collected by and will be donated to the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW).
Edwina Curry: Edwina started by saying she would donate her fee to a small North West England based charity she supports called Partners in Education Swaziland (PIES), a charity that provides a meal a day and basic education for vulnerable children there. She spoke with humour of her experiences and lessons learnt from becoming an MP for the newly formed constituency of South Derbyshire in 1983 and her time as a Minister for Health working with Margaret Thatcher. She left government in 1988 over the food poisoning crisis (salmonella and eggs) but said there actually was a real problem with salmonella killing ‘one person a week’ at that time.
Questions form the floor elicited her opinions about Brexit, the ‘me too campaign’, her favourite MP in opposition, the effects of Jo Cox’s death, thoughts on the NHS and her experiences on Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Pat Lake told the conference that during the ‘egg crisis’ her students at catering college made their favourite egg dish using powdered eggs and called it an ‘Edwina’.
General: Another great day which started with the singing of Jerusalem to a taped accompaniment but it did not quite work. So at the end of the day, as well as singing the National Anthem, we all sang Jerusalem again – with no taped music and it was SO much better. As always there were displays of the competition entries and lots of lovely stalls selling jewellery, handbags, chocolate, linen etc. . The Jerusalem Jammers danced in the intervals. They are a Ladies Garland Dancing Team, part of the Morris dancing tradition, formed in 1982 by a group of WI ladies. The rolling photos of WIs around the federation included two from Whissendine: our summer tea party last year in Lindsey’s garden and at the Greyhound Races.
We’ve said it before – a great day and if you have not yet been, think about it for next year.
Jean Penny and Lindsey Cleggett
President and Vice President, Whissendine WI, March 2018