Monday, 14 February 2011

WI Year of the Archive and Aladdin's cave

A brief trip to Denman College to speak to more than a score of Federation Secretaries showed me once again why time at the WI college is time well spent. Even in February the gardens provide an idyllic setting for an early morning walk or afternoon stroll ; its just the perfect learning environment. As well as the workshop for the Federation Secretaries, there was a course taking place on archiving for county federations’ and WIs’ archives. The NFWI archives are housed in the Women's Library in London, having been recovered from the garage at Denman College where they languished for many years. In fact, 2012 has been designated the “WI Year of Archives” so I'm sure federations are gathering all those files and bits of paper, minutes and records to be collated and stored properly, or rather, archived. Several such courses have been offered at Denman College for interested WI members over the past few years because it is so important to record what the WI collectively, and the federations and WIs individually have accomplished so much over the last 96 years, indeed, over nearly a century.

Within that time federation offices have been housed in many different types of buildings. In the last decade many have moved the administration of the federation to state-of-the-art offices of all sorts and descriptions – from an eco-friendly pig sty (Cambridge) to a cockpit (Powys Montgomery) and every type of building in between. Some have retained Georgian and Victorian town houses, but a recent move for Hertfordshire has taken them to the Old Curiosity Shop; a delightful old shop, which I should like to think was once a sweet shop, with a beautiful bowed window. Through the window you can be seen all manner of the most delightful and exquisite items: bags and necklaces; cards and pictures; garments and scarves, all made by WI members in the federation, and all for sale. A veritable Aladdin’s cave of craft at its best. Beyond the shop area are the offices and a board room; everything that an office needs. Last week I had the privilege and pleasure of cutting the ribbon at the official opening of the Hertfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes where I was made so very welcome and had a wonderful time meeting the members who had gathered there. Thank you HFWI.

So what will this week bring? An NFWI Board meeting among other things. Watch this space for more news….