When and where we meet:

Every 2nd Monday of the month at 7.30pm in the Memorial Hall, Leigh on Mendip

Visitors welcome!

For more details contact Mary Mears

or leave a comment here on our blog


Leigh on Mendip Community Coffee Mornings.

1st Monday of the month in the Memorial Hall from 9.45 to 10.45am.

Come along for a coffee and a chat! Everyone welcome.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Another enjoyable village fair and barn dance!

Several people have told me that it was a good day on Saturday, and the village fair went very well! Apparently at least one of the car boot stalls did extremely well and, most important of all, the weather was favourable! I have seen a photo of  one of our local characters sporting a very interesting look, clearly having some fun!
The produce stall was well stocked and only had a small number of items to reduce at the end of the afternoon, so a big thank you to all of the cake makers, to the WI members who did the pricing and the selling on the day and to Richard for his many cakes and jars of chutney and lemon curd. Thank you to Val who planned and organised the whole thing. I am hoping to receive some photos to post here soon!
The evening barn dance was great fun, everyone had a great evening.
Thank you to all of the fair committee and everyone who worked hard to make it all happen.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

And there's more.....

First: have a look at the NFWI FaceBook page: they have just posted the opening of the AGM when we all sang Jerusalem!

Second: a message from June B in response to the large stack of toothbrushes and paste you all contributed last night:

a big thankyou and the charity  the nurses are giving them to is maisha nakura charity  and the  other half to a camp in kenya thanks again

Have you talked to your family about organ donation?

Do it today!

Romans in Somerset

What a most interesting evening! We learned that the Romans clearly made a beeline for the south west to make use of the lead in our hills, which has been found as far away as Herculaneum. They have been able to trace the transport routes by finding some of the lead 'pigs' in river beds, either through them falling overboard or because the boats sank. The 'pigs' were each stamped with the emporer's name and weighed around 70kgs, so it is possible to date them. It was fascinating to see the tables showing how widespread the pollution was during the Roman period - evidence drawn from glacier samples and from teeth! The pollution then fell until the industrial revolution in the middle of the 1700s, when it reached only slightly higher levels. We also saw evidence of Roman writing! Some on wooden tablets, one of which was an invitation to a birthday party! (Nothing we do today is new! I wonder if they called them 'iPines'?) most fascinating were the lead 'curses' which had been found in the spring at the Roman Baths in Bath. These had been thrown into the spring, begging the gods to curse the person who had, for example stolen something. One was written in Latin but each word was written backwards. Another was written using Latin letters but making words which no one has been able to understand. It is thought that it may be an example of the Celtic language spoken at the time; possibly the only written record of it. When I spoke to Stephen Clewes afterwards he told me that another curse, this one to Neptune, was found on the sea shore! (Clearly Neptune has thought about it and returned it to us!) These are particularly rare and the evidence of such written curses has only been found in the western part of the Roman Empire, and specifically in the south west of England.

We enjoyed our refreshments and then all went home to get out the mixing bowl and put the oven on! Look out the National Grid for the next few days! The kitchens of Leigh on Mendip will be hard pressed, preparing for the WI produce stall on Saturday!

Monday, 9 June 2014

The revolution starts here!

Those of you who have access to Facebook have a look right now at the WI page! All the information you need about the organ donation campaign is there!
Talk about it today with your family and friends!

NFWI AGM 2014 in Leeds

Saturday 7th June dawned with the Leeds sky full of rain! A good day to spend inside the First Direct arena!
Between three and four thousand WI members from England, Wales and the Islands began the day by singing Jersualem, always such a moving moment when you become aware of the feeling of mutual interest, fellowship and friendship which is the WI.
Janice Langley, our National Chair began by telling us how successful the 'Inspiring Women Working Together' series of conferences had been, describing them as 'simply the best'! The plan is to build on the work begun by continuing to improve the communications and links between National, the Federations and each individual WI. The new WI Guide should be in every institute, available for everyone to read. The purpose being to share everything that is available to members, find out what else members want and make an effort to organise it! The moodle has been improved and is constantly increasing for us to find answers and information on, for example, how to run a WI, make perfect pastry, learn a new craft or find the latest information on the WI projects.
There are 23,000 new members joining the WI each year, and at the national office they regularly receive queries from other organisations asking what is our secret? How are we increasing our membership?
Our campaigns are about bringing people together to make change: the 1954 Keep Britain Tidy campaign is celebrating it's diamond jubilee this year and we continue to make our voices heard with all of our campaigns, including the care not custody, more midwives and SOS for honey bees, to mention but a few.

External consultants were appointed to report on Denman college, and their findings form the basis of the new business plan. The very good news is that income and bookings have increased! Last year there were 52 guests per night and this year the average has increased to 57. The focus remains firmly on continuing to increase the numbers in order to become and remain a viable business.

WI Life  and WI Enterprises are both progressing, looking to improve and develop.

Treasurer's report was made in the absence of Diana Birch, who is unfortunately very unwell. Her instructions to us were that we should have a "warm, happy feeling about WI finances"! Finance is like a good undergarment  (the image on the screen was of  an old fashioned, rather glamorous
corset!) which underpins everything and keeps it all pointing in the right direction! Last year the WI broke even with an income of £6.4 million: membership fees £2.2 million, advertising income £1.6 million and Denman fees £2.4 million (this represents a small surplus for Denman). The VAT refund totalled £800,000, instalments dating back to 1973 from HRMC. This money has to be used for the membership (it has already funded the nationwide Inspiring Women conferences as well as the WI Guide) and will be spent on marketing, recruiting, opportunities for new clubs and more inspiring women conferences.
Future increases in membership  subscriptions (which will be announced later in the year) will go directly to WIs, not National or the Federations. In 2015 pro rata subscriptions will be introduced for new members only who join during the year. (Currently if someone joins in, say June, they still have to pay the full annual fee).
NFWI is in good financial shape thanks to prudent housekeeping and good financial planning.

The resolution to increase organ donation was introduced by Larraine Walker from Staffordshire saying that 3,000 lives are saved each year through organ donation, but at the moment three people die every day waiting for a transplant, and that figure is increasing. A major barrier to donation is that relatives are unaware of the wishes of the donor. Barbara Hudson, the seconder, reminded us what a precious gift we have to give and up to 9 lives can be saved from one donor. Sally Johnson, who is the Director of the NHS Blood and Transplant department told us that there are 20 million people on the register. In order to donate one dies in hospital, usually in intensive care and annually there are 5,500 eligible donors. Family refusal  in the UK is among the highest in Europe. She asked for a revolution to change this situation. People of any age, physical ability and health can still be donors,
whether you are in your eighties or smoke heavily, you can still offer your organs. 7,000 people are waiting. She read a poignant letter from the mother of a ten year old boy who died tragically in an accident. The mother said it has helped them to know that his life is benefitting other people.

A lecturer in Medical Ethics spoke against the motion, suggesting that perhaps opting for the mandatory organ donation system which has been adopted in Wales may not be a good option given the general feeling against whatever the government requires us to do. She also said that the motion does not go far enough and we should include the Antony Nolan register, for bone marrow donors with the debate. She suggested we should remove the option for the family veto. (Later, in answer to a similar point from the floor, Sally Johnson replied that she could not imagine any surgeon or nurse in intensive care ignoring the wishes of a distressed and grieving family, so this point would be impossible to carry out)
When the debate was opened to the floor. Olive Deely from Suffolk told us that when her husband was in intensive care they learned for the first time that his name was on the organ donor register, and that it helped them through that situation to be able to comply with his wishes. A lady from Derbyshire wouldn't be able to see us without the two eye tissue donations she had received, one only six weeks earlier. A member from Leicester told us that she has received two kidney transplants and her son has received one. Another told us that she had lost her daughter in an accident. Her family decided to donate the organs since, during her life, the daughter had always wanted to help others, and now they feel reassured that she is still doing that.
When the results of the vote: 5,981 for and 133 against.
Let the revolution begin!

Sir Andrew Motion told us how he had risen at a very early hour that morning in order to catch his train. On the radio he listened to the list of events which had occurred on this day in the past: one of those events being the slow hand clapping of Tony Blair at the NFWI AGM!
 He spoke about the strong link as he sees them between poetry and the environment, bringing to life a  couple of poems, by Hardy and Manley Hopkins before reading us one of his own poems. He talked about his role as chairman of the Council for the Protection of Rural England and his concerns at the lack of control over the amount of building which is taking place in the green belt, rather than on brown field sites. House building is being lead by developers, not planners and he regards this as one of the catastrophes of our time. He asked us to raise this debate and join the CPRE and sign their charter. A very sensitive, excellent speaker.

Before our lunch break the various cups were presented: Lady. Denman cup for a short story, Huxley cup for floral art and the winner was announced for the competition to create the centenary fruit cake recipe, Julie Clark from Yorkshire.

The rain continued to fall heavily and only the very intrepid types went out in search of lunch!

Our speaker after lunch was Sir George McGavin, a wildlife expert, bringing the natural world to us, whose programmes on Borneo, Guyana and Monkey Planet many have watched on television. His talk was inspiring and I really felt that we were privileged to be in the presence of a very unique and specially gifted individual. The description of his work, his aims and watching the film of him teaching an orphan orangutan, Dora, how to eat the food available to her was inspiring. The maps of Borneo demonstrated so clearly just how quickly the rainforest is disappearing; it now covers only 6% of the earth and 75% of all our wildlife lives in it. What a very inspirational and fascinating talk.

Janice Langley then took some time to describe the plans for our centenary year.... Fantastic! We will celebrate the past and prepare for the future with pride and confidence! Lucy Worsley is making a programme for BBC2 to be shown in the spring of 2015 looking back on 100 years of the WI. She describes us as:
'one of the most important movements of modern times, a bold and radical institution'.
The Mikron Theatre Company will be touring the country by canal boat, putting on an original play about the history of the WI wherever they are invited to perform it. Have a look at their website for more information on how to invite them to a venue near you!
In March 2015 WI Enterprises will publish a book by member Mary Gwynan which will include the centenary fruit cake recipe.
Maggie Symonds told us all about the centenary baton, showing a map of its progress so far. The idea is to be all inclusive so that every one of us can take part in the celebrations. We can follow it on Facebook and Twitter! It may be a little while before it reaches Somerset, as it is still in the north.
The plans for the national broadcast of the 2015 AGM from the Albert Hall are set up. One in every two WIs will be able to send a delegate, so there will be very few, if any, observers seats available. However! We will be able to watch the proceedings from the comfort of our own village hall (or other venue) if we wish! Set aside 4th June 2015 10.30am until 4.30pm!
There are the competitions already in place: Singing for Joy, flower arranging for the Huxley Cup, tomorrow's heirlooms and a Denman Cup competition still to be announced.
Janice suggested that we should plan something special for WI day in September.
WI Enterprises have already planned: the centenary rose 'inspiration', a tea towel, mug, cup and saucer, silk scarves, a lapel badge, a diary and a silver brooch as well as the centenary book. The raffle prize next year will be £10,000!
Our final speaker was Bill Turnbull. He told us he was a bit daunted by the prospect of talking to us all so he did a practice run at a small Norfolk Institute, Sandringham! His plea to us was to continue our very important bee campaign, his special interest lies  in that area because he keeps bees.

Our chair closed the meeting by telling us that every WI is precious and we are all members of a team working together to make the WI the best it can be. Be enthusiastic and inspired! Try something different! There is diversity within the WI to enrich our experience.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Notes from Leeds!

What a fantastic AGM! Our Chair, Janice Longley has such a natural, easy manner and lead us through the agenda with ease. She described in detail the plans for our centenary next year; and the WI Enterprises stall in the foyer sold out of mementos before I even managed to find it! It will be worth having a look on the website, or in WI Life to see what is available! There will be a whole raft of events so that everyone will be able to participate in the celebrations.
The sense of belonging to a huge and powerful organisation which is has great respect in all fields is very strong. Each of our speakers made a plea to us to support their causes, fully aware that if we do, then change will happen.
It has all been very inspiring.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

NFWIAGM as it is happening!

We are all just settling back into our seats after the lunch break! The morning was very interesting, with a fascinating talk from Andrew Motion, who encouraged us to get into the debate over building on green belt sites. Check out the CPRE website for more details.
The organ donation debate was passionate, with contributions from two members who are recipients of donations. We are encouraged to start a revolution! And in fact we shall! There were5981 votes for and 133 votes against. Start talking to your family and friends!
More later!
It's raining incessantly here today!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A new challenge?

Can you remember that December WI meeting when we began to learn some sugar craft skills? Manipulating icing sugar into some delightful, hand crafted, detailed and 'perfect in every way' models of Father Christmas? Well, here is the next step on our path towards absolute perfection:
This amazing WI exhibit at the Staffordshire County Show was created by Blythe Bridge WI.
April Marsden created the country tea set purely from icing sugar, and then hand decorated it!