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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Banchory thank Edna for her hard work

At our Banchory meet last night, we finished the evening by thanking our outgoing Local Coordinator, Edna Harris, for all the hard work she has done throughout her 10-year stint in the position.  We celebrated with cake, and presented her with flowers and National Garden Vouchers.  Attached is a photo, with Edna in the centre on the sofa.

The main topic of the evening was a talk given by a volunteer representative from the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.  These clever dogs aid their 'recipients' by responding to sounds such as door bells, ringing telephones, oven alarms and even crying babies by touching the human and taking them to the source of the sound.  They are trained to respond to fire alarms by touching the human and then lying on the ground as soon as they've caught their human's attention.  Their owners say they gain great comfort and self-confidence through having a Hearing Dog, and for example can sleep soundly once again now they no longer have any worries about not hearing a fire alarm in the night.

You can spot these dogs in your neighbourhood by their smart burgundy coats, and we are all encouraged to speak to anyone we see with such a dog.  A lovely introduction to possibly a new friend.

One of the wonderful aspects of NWR is that you never know what you're going to learn about next.

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visit to Wrexham Mosque

 

In September ten of our group visited Wrexham Mosque, several of us went to the Open Day there 18 months ago, but some didn't make it on that day.  We have become good friends with one of the mosque congregation, who also spoke at our conference, "Faith in our Future" last year.  She warmly welcomed everyone, and gave a huge insight into the life womenin Islam, dispelling some of the many myths surrounding the subject, and she has also spoken to other NWR groups in the area who have really enjoyed what she has to say.

 

 

 

 

 

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Vintage Clothing

Vintage Clothing

Three Wedding Dresses and a.... handbags, Victorian bloomers (allegedly Princess Beatrice's!), 1950's Christening shawl, 1930's umbrellas and gloves (Bri-nylon & suede), black nylon(!) 1940's blouse, an engagement ring, a tiny red welly boot (!!), gold wedding shoes, a twenties lace dress and some bold black & white Biba, together with Hazel resplendent in her 40 year old outfit. A really entertaining meeting with stories behind all these treasured items, possibly one of the best evenings we have had!

 

 

 

 

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Flint Vineyard

Flint Vineyard

We enjoyed an informative and enthusiastic talk from Hannah and Ben about their journey to achieving the dream of starting their own Vineyard and Winery.  An impressive mix of hard work and good business sense makes this look like a successful start-up, but the vagaries of the weather are the obvious unknown quantity. 

Getting to taste the Award-winning Bacchus wine was an added bonus!

 

What better way to complete the outing than to enjoy lunch at the nearby Farmers Kitchen at Homersfield - lovely food and cheery, helpful staff.

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OAKHAM goes to BRAZIL (no flights needed)

Brazil 1

Oakham NWR and guests explored Brazil in the comfort of a member's home and garden for a BBQ.

The occasion was extra colourful as everyone dressed in yellow, green and blue, and the food was extra spicy to match.

Bossa Nova, Salsa and Samba music was easy to find on YouTube and set the tone for sipping the Caipirinhas late into the evening. By this time the Brazil quiz seemed extra challenging but who cared as we had a great time!

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Internet dating

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Room 101

Last night we deposited mosquitos, pavement cyclists and online gambling into room 101 along with some others.

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Theatre

We are looking at the Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre programme to see if there's anything coming up that we fancy...

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Catering College Visits

Our group has enjoyed lunches at two local catering colleges (as well as one in Brixton Prison) and are intending to try another when term restarts.

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London Walks

Our group have joined London Walks in several places and hope to tackle another one soon.

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Wistaston and guests walk at Mow Cop

Members and guests of Wistaston NWR enjoying a well-earned rest after their very enjoyable walk at Mow Cop.  This is a local beauty spot from the top of which you have fantastic views of the Cheshire Plain and Staffordshire Moorlands.

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Wistaston Garden Party

Wistaston Garden Party 2Members of Wistaston NWR enjoying the summer sunshine at our Garden Party organised by Dorothy (on the extreme left). Guests were also invited.

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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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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Deepings Group enjoyed reading Fannie Flegg's 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’ and some members LOVED this charming book.  We appreciated the strong characterisation:  those who have experience of nursing homes said there is a Ninny Threadgoode in every one;  Idgie, on the other hand, is a one-off - passionate, kind, enterprising, funny, brave, extreme - it was lovely to see her again at the end of the book, still telling her tall tales.  This was a strong community with warm friendships and loyalties, support for each other,  coping,  and the sadness of the loss of the village with the decline of the railway.  The vivid descriptions made us  almost smell the food and hear the music and voices of both rural and city life in this Southern US state.  The device of moving the story back and forwards using the humour and snide comments of Dot Weems’ Weekly Bulletin, worked well.

Even those cynics amongst us who cringe a little at American sweet homespun wisdom and the occasional shmaltzy sentimental tone, felt that the book was certainly saved from tweeness by the extremely dark subject matter. 
 We were shown the cruelty and violence of racism, and the subtle differences made by having different shades of skin colour, even between brothers;  the disquiet about the woman who could pass as white;  the way the Klu Klux Klan worked - “they may be niggers but they’re our niggers”.  The awful poverty and depression of The Depression and its intersection with that racism - even the hoboes, despised and beaten (perhaps to death) by some, were allowed through the front door of the cafe, the ‘coloureds’ had to quietly make their requests at the back.  We saw the comfort and optimism of the black church and the acceptance by black and white of what we would now see as lesbianism.
There was domestic violence, the lack of rights for married women, particularly over the custody of children;  then the sadness of infertility;  the bringing up of a ‘special’ child;  ageing; the dignity of people who struggled against scorn and adversity to make a better life for their children, and the grandchildren who saw that struggle as demeaning bowing and scraping. 
There was murder, even cannibalism (albeit unwitting on the part of some diners) and assisted dying.
For a slim, easy-to-read volume, Fannie Flegg’s masterpiece packs quite a punch!
 
Article supplied by Kathy Ward, L.O.
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Visit to Lavender Fields

Visit to Lavender Fields

Members of Sway NWR enjoyed a visit to the Lavender Fields near Alton, Hampshire.

This was followed by an enjoyable cream tea.

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Liz Valette
Lovely Lavender fields in Hampshire.
Saturday, 29 July 2017 06:58
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BBQ in the New Forest

BBQ in the New Forest

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Members of Sway NWR enjoyinga walk, good food and silly games in the New Forest.

 

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Lively Minds Quiz 2017

Winners of the Lively Minds Quiz hosted by Leighton Buzzard in May were St Albans 2 - a first for them - well done.

There were 8 teams, all very competitive, you could have heard a pin drop at times as brains geared into place.

The evening was interrupted by tea & cakes, a chance for Leighton Buzzard ladies to show their baking skills - and wow did they succeed.  It was soon back to pencil and paper to finish the quiz and add up scores.

Thanks to Lesley Inchley whose talent at compiling quizzes was appreciated by all.  Here’s to 2018 quiz, to be hosted by St Albans 2.

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Liz Valette
Well done ladies, I love a good quiz.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 16:36
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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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