February Hot Topics


Agnes, the President, welcomed the 77 members and 3 guests to our meeting.


We celebrated Kosovo’s Independence Day with Elizabeth Gowing.

(http://www.elizabethgowing.com/index.html) who told us about two women’s love of, and journeys in, Kosovo a century apart.  A job for Elizabeth’s partner working in Pristina led her to become fascinated with the country and another Englishwoman, Edith Durham.  Edith had first visited at the age of 37, and then lived in, what is now Kosovo over 100 years ago.  She was a most unlikely champion, a stout, stubborn Englishwoman who went in her tam o’shanter across the Accursed Mountains into Kosovo.  She travelled extensively in the area exploring Europe’s last wilderness.  Whilst well known in that area, little was known about in her homeland.  The Albanians dubbed Edith ‘Queen of the Highlanders’ and honoured her for her anthropological writing, her humanitarian aid and her tireless lobbying for their cause.  Edith wrote 7 books in English about her travels in the area.  When Elizabeth’s partner returned for a 2nd time to work in Kosovo, Elizabeth travelled round Kosovo seeing the people and the country through Edith’s eyes.  Throughout Elizabeth’s talk we had a slide show of scenes from Kosovo during her time there and of some of Edith’s photos.  Elizabeth finished by telling us about the work of The Ideas Partnership (http://www.theideaspartnership.org/), a Kosovo project which she had cofounded, inspired by Edith’s humanitarian work.  It is a group of volunteers tackling education, cultural heritage and environmental challenges in Kosovo, without political or religious affiliation.  Bags and copies of Elizabeth’s book “Edith and I” (which describes these two women’s experiences) were available to buy after the meeting.  As a result of the purchases made by individual members, Elizabeth is to donate £13.20 (10% of the sales) to The Ideas Partnership.

Wimbledon Food Bank

A recent Food Bank thank you letter for our contributions was on the Notice Board.  Lesley (organiser of our monthly collection) told us about a visit to the Food Bank when she met some recipients, including 2 women who’d particularly asked that their grateful thanks be passed on to us for our contributions.  Alison from the Food Bank described its work and thanked us for our regular contributions which averaged at around 50kg per month – this was the equivalent to the food required by 1 family per month.  Care professionals, CAB and the police identify people in crisis and issue them with a voucher.  They take their voucher to the centre where it is redeemed for 3 days emergency food.  Volunteers meet clients over a cup of tea or free hot meal and signpost people to agencies able to help with the longer-term problem.  Demand had increased enormously – in November 2011 11 vouchers had fed 28 people with 1/3 ton of food compared to December 2013, when 134 vouchers had fed 373 people with 3¾ tons of food.  Leaflets/forms were available for those who wished to volunteer with their work on a regular basis.  Extra help is needed on Saturday 1st March to help sort out 4 tons of food.  Venue: Olympic House (next to the YMCA), 5th Floor (there is a lift), 196 The Broadway SW19 1RY Time: 9:30 to 12:30.  Please go along to help if you can.  Any member wishing to know more was invited to visit the Food Bank centre (Monday probably best day to choose as Alison normally there that day).  Contact details and information about the Food Bank at http://wimbledon.foodbank.org.uk/.


Agnes reminded members that the following signup sheets were available at the meeting and to pay for any trips they had booked:-

  • Quiz Night Saturday 22 March 7pm St Mary’s Church Hall, Merton Park – profit will be split 50:50 between our WI and our Charity of the Year – Merton & Morden Guild.  We are now fairly full and payment of £10/person is required at our March meeting.  We can start a reserve list for anyone wishing to go.
  • Super Raffle at our meeting on 14th April –offers of prizes already received were listed on the signup sheet.  Members were invited to add any other prizes they had obtained together with details of the donors so we could thank them.  Please help us by finding more prizes so that we can raise lots of money for Merton & Morden Guild.
  • Wimbledon Village Fair Saturday 21st June – Start thinking about making cakes and preserves. Helpers also needed for the stall on the day.  This is our WI’s main fund raising event of the year.
  • Outings/Theatre – a full list can now be seen on the website, but we will continue to inform you of new things by email as well

Ann, the Secretary, said she would be attending the Surrey Federation WI Annual Meeting on 17 March in Dorking to represent our WI and will report back to us.  She told us there are 3 key business issues at the meeting

  • Surrey Federation WIs Board of Trustees 2014-2016
  • Surrey FWI Annual Review & Accounts 2013
  • Extraordinary General Meeting – to ratify the NFWI AGM 2013 decision to approve changes to Articles of Association for the Federation so that Surrey’s can be amended in line with National.

Ann reminded those who had not paid their 2014 subscriptions to do so.

Ann said for the 17th March meeting there would be a change of venue.  We would be in the Ursuline High School Dining Hall (not the 6th Form Centre which was being used for exams).  A sketch map and instructions on how to find the Dining Hall were on the Notice Board. A reminder will be sent with a map closer to the date!

Ann said the following signup sheets were also available:-

  • Committee Taster – come and join us and hear what we get up to on the Committee – it is not as daunting as you might think.
  • Surrey WI News – Starting to take your orders for this monthly magazine – price for 12 issues not yet confirmed but would probably be around £3 for the year.  Examples of previous issues were available for members to look at.

Ann reminded members to look at the Notice Board.  Among the new material this month were

  • NFWI News extracts from February and March issues, including the SOS for High Streets campaign research survey
  • Surrey FWI Annual Review & Accounts 2013
  • A new Denman course brochure

Help for those badly affected by the flooding – Unfortunately, the WI cannot fundraise or donate to any appeal to help flood victims as this does not fall within the objects of our charity.  However, if you want to help as individuals you may wish to investigate other ways which have been set up to assist those affected.  These are some of the websites you may wish to explore if you wish to make a personal donation

Berkshire Community Foundation’s Berkshire Flood Recovery Fund http://localgiving.com/charity/berkshirefloodfund or Tel 01189303021.

Devon Community Foundation’s Devon Flood Fund http://www.justgiving.com/DevonFloodFund or 01884 235887 (Monday to Thursday)

Somerset Community Foundation’s Somerset Flood Relief Fund http://www.somersetcf.org.uk/index.php?page=somerset-emergency-flood-relief-fund or 01749 344949

Surrey Community Fund’s  Surrey Flood Recovery Appeal  http://www.surreycommunityfoundation.org.uk/

A number of other interesting things we had received or events which are coming up, including ones to support St Raphael’s Hospice on 28 February.

Our Next Meeting

The next meeting is on Monday 17th March 2014 at 7.30pm in the Dining Hall, Ursuline High School.  Directions will be sent to you separately.

We look forward to seeing you in March