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NWR National Conference

Registration for our 2018 conference will open soon and we are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Chester in 2018.  In the meantime, here is another great write-up about this year's conference in Lincoln by NWR member Sandra Sellers...

 

The annual NWR Conference held this year in the historic city of Lincoln was on the theme of Wonder Woman (yes we knew the film would be doing the rounds this summer) appropriate as the film has become the biggest live action film ever directed by a woman and has been so successful it is the highest grossing film eve directed by a woman so truly an inspirational theme celebrating the success women can achieve.

On Saturday morning around 300 delegates gathered at the venue to be welcomed by Karen Crow the Lincoln Town Crier in her full regalia. She gave her Home Cry about how lucky Lincoln is to be known for Lincolnshire Sausages and then a specially written cry for the day stating that we are all Wonder Women!

Our first speaker was Sophie Wells who is a renowned Dressage rider who was born In Lincoln and grew up on her parent’s farm. She shrugs off that she has just one finger on each hand and no feeling at all in her feet. She told us that she was determined as a child to take up riding just like all her pony loving friends. She loves training her horses to learn the intricate movements required for an accomplished routine set to music. Her hard work and determination have led to success in World championships and Paralympics so that at the age of just 27 years old she has 23 medals.

Our second speaker was Mary Powell who led the team that has raised and spent £22 million on the refurbishment of Lincoln Castle. Mary took us ‘behind the scenes’ to see images of special highlights of the project and gave us an interesting insight into the challenges and how she overcame them. We were all delighted to share in her excitement that just the day before the conference Lincoln Castle had been voted the best castle in England.

After lunch we held the Annual General Meeting. It was as usual a vociferous affair. The lively minded women had their say!

For those who wanted activity there was the choice of Chasamba line dancing or African drumming. Both were in high demand so apologies if you missed out. Then for those who like to meet other members there was a choice of two discussion groups. One on what we consider makes a wonder woman and the other on the Lincoln castle project and what difficulties a good project leader can overcome. In an effort to make sure we had something for everyone we had the choice to listen to a guest speaker from the Woodland Trust. Many of us were members and enjoyed hearing more from the organisation.

It was then time for the last speaker of the day, author Sophie Hannah. I know of at least two delegates who booked to come along purely so that they could meet Sophie!! Others of us had never read any of her books. Some writers find it difficult to speak to audiences much preferring the chance to craft each sentence carefully in the quiet of their office but this does not apply to Sophie Hannah who kept the whole audience enthralled as she explained how she came to branch out from poetry to crime novels and now to writing novels for the Agatha Christie foundation. She told us of the day she had a caesarean birth for her daughter and how this led her to the theme of her book ‘Little Face’ in which a mother is convinced her husband has switched their baby for another. Like many authors she said that friends often suggest topics that she may like to write about and one such was a friend who said that the Sat Nav in her car had an address programmed into it for HOME which was not her home address. Sophie uses this premise in her book Lasting Damage where the heroine wants to find out who lives at the unknown address.

Next Year the Conference will be held in Chester and we hope many of you will decide to invest the time in coming along and making it a highlight of your year. We all enjoyed our time in Lincoln very much and were inspired by the life stories of all our guests. It was truly a Wonder-ful day!!

Sandra Sellers

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Chester Conference 2018 - Planning well under way

Planning is well under way for the 2018 NWR conference in Chester and those who have organised past conferences know just how much hard works goes into making sure these events are a success. The the details for 2018 will be up on the website soon, including details of how to book your place at the conference online. In the meantime, here's a look back to the Lincoln conference as seen through the eyes of NWR member Faith Oxford...

 
Lincoln conference 2017 through my eyes - as a committee member and chair on the day

Sandra's excellent report on the conference was a full and comprehensive account of a day that, we as a committee, were pleased to be able to say most delegates enjoyed. But how did we get to that day? What trials and tribulations did we go through? What emotions did we experience...... and how many emails passed between us?!

From my point of view, volunteering to be on the committee was not a hard decision. I had been part of the 2001 Nottingham conference committee so knew how much hard work was involved but also remembered what a fantastic buzz it gave me when it was all over.

Back then, planning began 18 months ahead of conference, which was a full weekend with the committee organising everything - accommodation, food, workshops, speakers, etc. etc. We also had to decide on a theme for the conference so when ten willing volunteers met up for the first time with Natalie on 3rd August last year and were told the theme for this year's conference was to be 'Wonder Women', we thought; at least that's one less thing to worry about. But was it? In the past conference titles have included 'Power' (Leicester 1995),'Fast Forward' (Nottingham 2001), 'Exploring Diversity' (York 2003) and 'Inspired' (Birmingham 2012). All stirring and inspirational themes but with the added bonus that you could make almost any speaker fit the brief. 'Wonder Women' on the other hand... That was pretty specific!

The original ten members dwindled to seven plus Natalie and our first couple of meetings were brain storming sessions to suggest speakers who would be interesting (ideally, having been heard by one of us previously) available (even more important), fulfilled the brief... and affordable! Helen Sharman, first British woman in space was certainly a Wonder Woman but way out of our budget.

We went away from our brainstorming sessions with our brains hurting! But over the next couple of meetings, we agreed on our speakers and booked them; feeling reasonably satisfied that they would be good. Workshops and retail stalls were also agreed upon and booked.

Does that sound as though it was all going too smoothly? That may be because I forgot to mention the frustration when we were trying to get information and people could not be contacted, when emails we thought we'd sent were not sent - or at least did not arrive or were not answered! Then there was the 'biggie' when one of our workshop leaders had to withdraw. Panic set in... Slightly! After all, we are capable, resourceful and determined 'Wonder Women'! Yet another brainstorming session ensued (by email) and we secured the services of the ‘Drumming Man’ - much to the delight I'm sure, of those delegates who attended the session.

The weekend arrived and the first 'disaster'! I do not intend to dwell on the Friday evening chicken - so much has already been said! With many thanks to Natalie, a refund has been arranged and, hopefully, everyone who went will have realised that we were equally disappointed. 

Waking on Saturday morning with the evening before very much on my mind - plus the fact that I (as the compiler of the picture quiz) had mistakenly thought Cate Blanchett was Keira Knightley and was loudly shouted down! - I was nervous about the day ahead. As volunteer committees, we take on these tasks willingly and with a great sense of responsibility, knowing that the enjoyment of up to 300 women, at no little expense- is in our hands. It was daunting!

But..... from the moment the Town Crier rang her bell and her stirring voice rang out, I dared to hope that it was all going to be okay! There were moments - the AGM being one of them (almost a tradition since it moved from the end of the day to the middle) - that were tricky but we got through it.

Emotional - yes, of course it was. The whole process was emotional - frustrating at times and annoying at times but also immensely rewarding and, overall, it was fun. Working with and getting to know my fellow committee members was great. The lovely, heart-warming and kind comments from delegates during the day and as they went home made it all worthwhile and I went home on a high. However, unlike in 2001 when that buzz kept me awake and buzzing half the night, 2017 saw me having a glass of wine and falling into a long and deep sleep!

And those dozens (if not hundreds) of emails? I can't quite bring myself to delete the folder just yet - in case I should need to refer to them.

Good luck to Chester committee and I'm really looking forward to enjoying the product of other people's hard work.

 

Faith Oxford

Recent Comments
Liz Valette
A lot of hard work really does go into organising conferences. Volunteer committees, with a great sense of responsibility, willing... Read More
Friday, 17 November 2017 09:16
Faith Oxford
Thank you, Liz. Several of us on the committee met up for lunch a few weeks after the conference and did a little 'back-patting'!
Sunday, 19 November 2017 18:50
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Whatever happened to summer?

What happened to our summer break?

Staff and the volunteers who run NWR can usually rely on a quiet period between late July and September to catch up on annual tasks and outstanding issues.  After all the hard work of the national conference is over, the pace changes and we can relax a bit to take holidays, spend time with our families or just enjoy the summer. 

Early work on the Telephone Treasure Trail then starts in August and preparations for the next trustee meeting get underway in September as everyone focuses on the year ahead.

Not this year however! 

Staff and trustee resignations have made this a busy summer and early Autumn as replacements have to be found to keep our organisation going.  New job roles and descriptions for staff had to be agreed and advertised. Then came the shortlisting and interviews and, for the lucky applicants, an induction schedule and settling in period to be organised. 

To keep the organisation going we need a whole range of volunteers from Regional/Area Organisers, to special group leaders, to trustees.   We encourage any interest and aim to find ways to use members' experiences and skills.

So we look forward to working with our new members of staff, our new trustees and volunteers as they bring new ideas and fresh energy. 

I can now return to my garden and reading and relaxing - for a few weeks at least... although the TTT is coming up quickly... and then there is Christmas...

Best wishes

Josephine

 

 

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The Angela Walker Quiz

The Angela Walker Quiz

Thank you to everyone who attended the recent Angela Walker Quiz. The winners were Rugby. Leicester came in second and Coventry in third - so very well done to all your teams!

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Up Hill and Down Dale - Women Rambling On Again

Up Hill and Down Dale - Women Rambling On Again

Four members of Arnold NWR joined with around 50 other NWR members recently for a very enjoyable day event organised by members of Trentham NWR, Staffordshire Moorlands NWR and Marilyn Vigurs, Area Organiser.

The venue was The Tea Junction at Hulme End (http://www.teajunctionhulmeend.co.uk/). In the morning we enjoyed an illustrated talk by eminent local photographer Simon Watkinson (www.world-infocus.co.uk). Simon entertained us with wonderful photographs from around the world and closer to home, showing how you can achieve great results by getting up early, going out in all weathers, and always having your camera to hand for any unexpected opportunity! Also how to improvise and make use of what equipment is to hand.


After a lovely lunch provided by the team at The Tea Junction (including feta cheesecake...yummy!!), we split into groups for an afternoon of activities. The more active amongst us set off for a 5-mile ramble; another group embarked on a treasure hunt in nearby Hartington. The largest group went with Simon a short distance to Beresford Dale, for an afternoon workshop on how to improve our photography using our various types of camera, tablets, phones etc. We learned how to use a variety of settings that some of us didn’t realise our cameras had! Simon patiently showed us how to access the menu options on our cameras and choose appropriate settings for the conditions. We were then set loose for a couple of hours, to wander along the dale and experiment taking different pictures and changing the camera/phone settings to compensate for bright sunlight and strong shadows and reflections.
We all reconvened for tea and cake and closing remarks having had a most enjoyable day in glorious sunshine!


Thanks to all the organisers and to the wonderful catering team at The Tea Junction!


Arnold NWR

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