HOT TOPICS – Meeting 20th June 2016
Fiona opened the meeting by welcoming 71 members, 4 guests and 1 associate member.
2016 NFWI Annual Meeting at Brighton
Fiona then went on to read the report from Sally (SW19 WI) Link Delegate for SW19, Wimbledon, Maple Village and Ham & Petersham WIs. As follows:
After summarising the many high points of 2015, the NFWI Chair, Janice Langley, was obliged to return to the problem of funding for Denman, which is much treasured by the NFWI but actually used by only 3% of its members and which is running a large deficit. We were invited to contribute to the Save Denman Appeal. Bookings for courses are up, though, and new tutors have been taken on. Education and the sharing of skills are fundamental to the WI ethos. We are urged to use Denman more.
The NFWI will come to branches, groups of branches or federations to talk about the work of the WI, provided a large enough audience can be assembled. At last count there were 6,375 branches and 226,402 members. Membership has increased by 60,000 since January 2015!
The treasurer, Julia Roberts, said that subscriptions will not increase this year and that they will be sending out a census to ask members their opinions on the level, how it should be paid and how to use the reserves.
The resolutions were both passionately debated with much to be said for and some to be said against each one. There were no amendments. Sally used her four votes as instructed by the branches, feeling no need to use her discretion. In the end both were carried.
Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia: For 3,305. Against 856
Carried by 79.4%
Avoid food waste, address food poverty: For 5,146. Against 1,080
Carried by 82.7%. (This is the resolution that Wimbledon WI voted for).
And yes, it does appear that a lot more people voted on the second resolution.
The two guest speakers were admirable in every respect. Rona Fairhead is the BBC Trust Chairman who was at pains to point out the similarities between the BBC and the WI, with our emphasis on issues that matter, our independence and how our work makes a huge difference to people and inspires them. We are both enablers of people and a trusted brand. Perhaps she was being overly generous to the WI! Her brief montage of BBC highlights brought a tear to the eye, though we were not sure if that was due to Tom Hiddleston’s torso, David Attenborough and the blind baby rhino or our general love for the BBC. Their mission is to inform, to educate and to entertain.
The second speaker was Baroness de Souza, Lord Speaker. She explained her role, the workings of and the importance of the House of Lords and also pointed out how badly it needs reform.
The NFWI Chair, in her closing remarks, emphasised the growing importance of technology to the WI. The WI website ( https://www.thewi.org.uk/ ) is now hugely significant, both as a first port of call for potential members and as a means of sharing information and skills. Technology and also increased flexibility should be used to enable more members to take part in the running of the branches and the federations. We are urged to fill in a census form which will be in WI Life and online to show what we want from the WI.
The proceedings finished with some joyful and tuneful singing with flag waving akin to the last night of the proms. It included ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Queen.
Fiona mentioned that the website is now up to date and thanked Dulcie for all her hard work.
Talk on: “100 years of the WI: The acceptable face of feminism”
A few members of Wimbledon WI went to the above talk by Professor Maggie Andrews. Fiona said it was a moving talk and it made her very proud to be a WI member and hadn’t realised how radical the WI was in the past. Fiona is hoping that Maggie will be able to attend one of our future meetings.
Wimbledon Village Fair
Veronica profusely thanked everyone who helped towards the WI stall at the Wimbledon Village Fair – either helping on the Friday/Saturday or making all the delicious cakes, chutneys, preserves etc. She is particularly excited this year as we have surpassed the £1,000 goal she had set. And after selling off the remaining jam and marmalades at Monday’s meeting, the total figure is £1,127.02. A round of applause was given to Veronica for all her hard work and organisation.
Beverley Brook Walk, Friday, 1st July
There was a sign-up sheet for the above walk at the meeting. Should anyone else like to join us, please email Liz.
Summer Party, Saturday, 20th August
This will be held at our monthly meetings’ venue (Ursuline High School) from 1.30. There will be a charge of £10 per person to help cover any costs. Guests and partners are welcome and there will be a buffet lunch available. Please bring your own drinks.
These are £4.50 (and not £4.70 as mentioned in Preview Notices). There will be another chance to sign up for a diary at the July meeting or email Chris with your order.
Fiona mentioned the various activities in the Surrey WI News. If anyone is interested in receiving a copy, the cost works out to 50p per issue. Please let Dulcie know.
Tasha Marks – Conceptual Confectionery and Edible Art
And now on to our speaker for the evening, Tasha Marks, who “sweet talked” us about her very interesting and unusual catering company, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral Curiosities. Tasha took a special course in food history as an art-history undergraduate at university which included the history of ice-cream, sugar and salt which sparked her interest. With that came an exploration of medieval banquets and the start of a fascination with the craft of sugar sculpturing and the decadent dessert halls once created to entertain guests: packed with sugar forests, moving sugar installations and much more. She is now a food historian who explores the relationship between art and food through incredible edible installations such as a gold-dusted chocolate relief of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, an inhalable Victoria sponge cake and glow in the dark UV sweets. Some of her projects have included making sweets from ambergris (a rock-like substance made of squid beaks vomited by sperm whales, yet prized by perfumiers for its smell) or creating a one-metre-square Turkish carpet from sugar for the Istanbul Design Biennial – using a 17th century sugar-paste recipe and a 15th century technique of mould making. One of Tasha’s favourite pieces is the edible bubble installation for the opening of Savage Beauty at the V&A. To bring this to life, Tasha created a black pool of goo which was pumped with air to create edible bubbles. Tasha’s clients have also included The Royal Academy of Arts, the National Trust, Wedgwood, The London Festival of Architecture and Selfridges. Overall a thoroughly interesting talk and something out of the ordinary.
Monday, 18th July, when our guest speaker is Tessa Dunlop – Author of Bletchley Girls.