March and April are always busy months for the whole of the WI because this is the time when many Federations hold their annual council meetings. These meetings are where members from around the Federation come together to hear what has been happening throughout the past year, as well as what is planned for the coming months. A celebrity or eminent person in their field is usually invited to speak or entertain; hopefully all speakers entertain, and sometimes a member of the National Federation Board of WIs is invited speak too. In the last thee weeks I have spent enjoyable days with the members of Essex, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire Federations, and on Saturday I shall be with members of Teeside.
In Oxfordshire, they went one better and invited Peter Lien, Chef Manager of the WI Cookery School at Denman College. He spoke very eloquently of the many elements of cooking and encouraging members to try something new, as well as honing their culinary skills. There are courses available at The WI Cookery School for the novice cook – basic baking being just one – as well as those wishing to try French cuisine or the spices of India. Evening classes and a Dinner Club are also on offer, as are classes for children. There must be a course to tickle the taste buds of everyone: do take a look at the website to find the perfect one for you.
The NFWI-Wales also held the Federations of Wales Conference in Aberystwyth this week. It was hosted by Ceredigion Federation, which is one of the thirteen Welsh Federations that take it in turn to host the conference each year. This year members heard from Professor Laura McAlllister, Chair of Sport Wales; Zoologist Nicola Davies; Soprano Gwawr Edwards; NFWI Trustee Anne Harrison who is Chair of the Denman College Committee; and Director of Fairtrade, Harriet Lamb, of which the NFWI was a founding member.
Between these meetings I attended a symposium entitled "Climate Change; The Problem" at St George's House in the grounds of Windsor Castle. A variety of speakers addressed the equation MC2=E that is:
Multitude (of people) and carbon output per head of population per year; carbon per capita equals extinction.
Causes and effects of climate change were expounded and discussed, as well as the health risks due to the changed climate, how to engage the population in the very serious issues the world face, and how the media portray the issue. The result of these talks must provide an active way forward: the time for talking is at an end. Some five years ago the scientists were telling of the one hundred months remaining until tipping point is reached: there is no turning back. By the time the NFWI is celebrating its centenary in 2015, these months will have passed.