A dull and drizzly day at Denman College was transformed in an instant when HRH the Duchess of Cornwall arrived to take a look at the WI's seat of learning. It was truly exciting to show Her Royal Highness around the ground floor of the magnificent house that is Denman College before escorting her down the gravel pathway to view the accommodation cottages and, in particular, the Gloucestershire bedroom where she signed her name in the visitor's book. Why this room in particular you ask? Well, the Duchess is a member of Tetbury Evening WI in Gloucestershire and this is the room decorated by her federation.
The tour continued on to the WI Cookery School where a demonstration by Dhruv Baker, 2010 Masterchef winner, was in progress. Something chocolately was in the pan and the Duchess joined fellow members around the table to watch the proceedings. Chatting all the time with members, we returned later to the WI Cookery School to view the students preparing a chicken dish that they later enjoyed for their lunch.
This week courses at the WI Craft School included negative and positive appliqué and Italian embroidery, as well as bookbinding and painting with acrylics. It appears the Duchess is a dab hand with the paintbrush as she painted a sunset quite effortlessly and was obviously quite taken with the bookbinding.
At the reception that followed in the beautiful Ferris Theatre, The Duchess of Cornwall spoke to every person present including members of Marcham WI, who hold their WI meetings in that very room. One member told me that to round off this very exciting morning they were going off to lunch together to celebrate.
It was an honour to receive our royal WI member and I do hope the Duchess enjoyed her whirlwind tour of Denman College. Who knows, maybe one day she might even be a student there herself.
From one extreme to another - our Mums Matter petition has only a short time to run before it is handed over to government campaigning on the necessity for money to help mothers in pregnancy and childbirth in the developing world that has not gone away. At a superb Women Reaching Women evening in Suffolk West Federation, the plight of pregnant women and the ways in which they are currently being helped was graphically shown. Every woman from every country is our sister across the planet, and caring about their plight is so much of what our Women Reaching Women project has encompassed. Millennium Development Goal number 5 regarding maternal mortality has a special place in WI members’ hearts and minds and to which thousands have responded.
The WI's Women Reaching Women closing conference is to be held on 12 April – everyone is welcome to attend.