Tea and chat comes to mind for many when a WI meeting is mentioned, and it is the same with NFWI board meetings- only I would describe it more as refreshment and discussion. Much of the latter has happened in the last couple of weeks with numerous internal meetings, not least in finalising arrangements for our forthcoming Annual General Meeting to be held on 1st June. It takes place in Cardiff this year, with 4,000 WI members converging on the Welsh capital – along with thousands of motor sport fans too, as I understand such an event is also going on then.
At the AGM this year we shall be discussing our revised constitution – 'tweaked' is nearer the mark – to make it fit for purpose in the second decade of the twenty first century, and a vote will be taken. There will also be presentation and discussion on our resolution for this year; the saving of the “high street”, and a vote will be taken here also. A lot of voting goes on in the WI, at every level, which is all part of our entirely member-led democratic processes.
I was honoured to take part in voting of another type recently when I sat on the NIACE panel to judge the Learners through Arts, Craft Skills and Culture category for the Adult Learners' Week Awards. The ceremony was held on Monday in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall where I was very proud to present the awards. The first award was presented to Dean Short, the individual winner, who has overcome severe dyslexia to achieve distinction in a Film and Television Foundation Degree. He is now dividing his time between working at Pinewood Film Studios and studying for a BA (Hons) degree. Next I presented the Project Award to Artspace, a project that occupies town centre properties to offer art-based learning workshops and exhibition space for local amateur and professional artists, as well as learners. The project aims to attract learners from groups where participation is traditionally low and to facilitate opportunities for learners to progress to further learning or self-employment.
NIACE and the WI often collaborate on projects and one of the latest has been that of learning how to use the internet. A conference of Digital Champions was recently held in the WI's centre of leaning, Denman, where WI members received the necessary training to pass on their technical skills both to other members and the wider public.
And with that, the end of another WI year is now on the horizon. Looking back at this blog over this past year, it is evident just how many opportunities the WI offers to its members, and there will be many more over the coming year.