This Wednesday, the NFWI is holding its AGM in the Royal Albert Hall but before that gets under way; there is much to report on recent WI representation.
On 16 May, I attended the Wildlife Trust's Centenary event held at The Natural History Museum in London. We were seated at tables in the Central Hall surrounding the diplodocus, and listened as Sir David Attenborough told of how he became involved with the natural world and ultimately the Wildlife Trust. He recounted his teenage days in Leicestershire when a local farmer purchased a tractor and everyone gathered to view it, without realising that this was the beginning of a new way of life in the countryside. We also heard the well-known ornithologist, Bill Oddie talk of his passion for wildlife and the countryside via a letter written to his grandchildren. It was a memorable evening and pertinent to the WI since so many WI members live in, and share, a passion for the countryside.
The countryside was also at the forefront of the National Trust’s Octavia Hill Awards luncheon last Wednesday. The awards were introduced this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of one of the National Trust's founders, Octavia Hill. The awards celebrate individuals and groups that are keeping Octavia's legacy alive and the following awards were given: Growing Hero; Natural Hero; Inspirational Hero; People's Campaigner: Green Space Guardian; and 'Love Places' award. The full list of winners can be found on the National Trust website.
On Thursday I attended the second meeting of the Prime Minister's Champion Group on Dementia Friendly Communities, this time attended by the Prime Minister himself. David Cameron was updated on the plans and progress being made by the group and he acknowledged that a change in the culture around dementia is needed. Indeed, the outcome of this whole project relies on a mixture of culture shift and specifics, together with an understanding of actions that government must take where barriers are encountered. Included in this, of course, is a sustainable funding system for social care, and the Prime Minister's advice was one that all WI members hear so often: speak to your MP, lobby your MP in person and in writing, and explain what is needed, why, and possibly, how it might be done. The government needs the public to tell them what barriers and regulations should be changed.
During the discussions we heard from a young volunteer who, through the National Citizens Service, and together with others, had built a beach garden in the grounds of a care home so that residents can experience the 'seaside' without leaving the premises. Training in awareness and some understanding of dementia is happening in many sectors now across retail, banking and leisure, and raising awareness among children and young people is high on the list of desired outcomes.
Now we move on to the NFWI’s AGM. Keep an eye on our twitter feed for regular updates throughout the day.