Tuesday, 10 August 2010

“Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright..."

I was very pleased to be asked to go on a radio show on Sunday afternoon to chat about everything to do with the WI for half an hour. Interspersed with the local travel news and a beautiful 1923 rendition of Jerusalem, I was free to discuss whatever I fancied with presenter and journalist Christopher South, who is well known for his page in the Cambridge News and for his shows on Radio Cambridgeshire. He has a great admiration for the WI and I asked him to chair a “Question Time” style event on climate change we held in Cambridgeshire in 2008, where he did a superb job. We touched on the topic of climate change during our discussion, along with the age range of WI members, whether ladies from ethnic minorities are becoming members, and the plight of the honeybee, referring to our 2009 mandate.

Of course jam was discussed, not to mention Jerusalem as I have already mentioned, but, as I have always maintained, the skill of jam making is good to have or acquire, and to know the words of that great four stanza poem by William Blake does no harm at all! Our WI signature might well have been “Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright..."; as that too is set to music.

But not content with a Sunday slot, which Mr South very kindly said he'd like to repeat some time, yesterday morning Radio Newcastle wanted to hear about women's social groups and why there is obviously a need for them. The WI is the biggest voluntary women's group in England, Wales and The Islands, and its long 95 year history speaks for itself; women have always liked to come together in groups. I'm sure strength and safety in numbers, empowerment and education and so much more, are all reasons to form a WI.

The world really is an oyster for any WI member; and I hope all 207,000 of them out there realise this and revel in it.