Pretty in pink is how one newspaper headline described HM The Queen last week when she attended her annual WI meeting. I would say her outfit was more cerise than pink; but it was also definitely pink when she visited Sandringham WI in her capacity as President in January 2012. I too had the privilege of attending then, and I expect that this year, she will have spoken to her fellow members about her annus mirabilis; her glorious jubilee. I am so proud that our Queen is a WI member, along with her two daughters-in-law.
The WI is the place to be for so many reasons, and there are currently up to 1,000 women joining every week. Whether they’re looking for new friends, new skills, or new interests, the WI can provide them all, as well as a chance to engage in the big issues of the day. One of those issues is the many facets of providing enough food across the world by 2050, when it is estimated there will be two billion more o feed. This has to be thought about now and such elements addressed as farming methods, food waste, genetically modified crops, water supply, sustainability, home-grown crops, pricing and changed climatic conditions. There are, no doubt, many other factors to consider too, but these and more will be raised across England and Wales with the WI Great Food Debates to be hosted throughout 2013.
Growing food in schools is also of great importance, so that children can learn from an early age the whys and wherefores of planting seeds and eating the vegetable or fruit it produces, which is crucial. Why, even the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, has children digging and planting at the White House. Imperative and necessary, but also very enjoyable. Many of you, like me, will have such happy memories of holding one end of the line while my grandpa or father walked across the soil to push the iron holder into the ground to enable the digging of a straight trench, in which to plant potatoes, or following after them dropping seeds into the holes they made with the dibber. Or emerging from the greenhouse where the tomato plants leave a green residue on the hands having touched them when watering. Memories and skills that stand me in good stead now, and our children deserve the same.
Gardening, or at least what action to take with each tool or how to plant a seed, can be something a person suffering from dementia may forget completely. Today I have attended the PM's Dementia Friendly Communities Champion Group where the participants were taken through a Dementia Friends workshop, which was a most moving and instructive half hour that enabled one to catch a glimpse of life for the dementia sufferer. The Alzheimer Society website has all the information you need to sign up to be a Dementia Friend. Be one of the million to have signed up by 2015 to gain some understanding of this debilitating and growing disease; then in true WI fashion, pass on your knowledge, cascade it to groups who can then form part of a Dementia Friendly Community.