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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TTT Clues and Answers

 

The 2017 TTT answers are in!

 

Recent Comments
Janet Barclay
We are completely baffled - can we have an additional clue to help us please?
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 21:37
Ann Gillies
Did any groups struggle with the TTT this year? Or was it just us?
Saturday, 18 November 2017 20:32
Karen Elphick
Yep, we found it difficult, and in some cases, impossible! Hopefully the answers will be published soon?
Sunday, 19 November 2017 16:19
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Report of SW Area Workshop – Women and Film

When groups in Devon were planning an Area workshop, member Marie Handyside knew who would fit the bill. Her daughter Dr Fiona Handyside is a senior lecturer in European film at the University of Exeter and had recently written a book on 'Sofia Coppola; A Cinema of Girlhood' (featured in the 2017 Big Read). So, on Saturday 28 October, over forty members and visitors from Devon and Cornwall came together for a workshop on 'Women and Film: Images, Memories and Fantasies'.

We started with a presentation by Fiona and her colleague Dr Danielle Hipkins, which expanded on the NWR national theme for 2017 of women in film. Interspersed with film clips, they focused on the multiple ways women interact with film: as directors, as stars and as viewers. We learnt how films such as 'Breakfast at Tiffanys', 'Pretty Woman' and 'Lost in Translation' subverted and changed how women were portrayed. Some of the very few 2017 films made by women such as 'United Kingdom', Wonder Women', 'Viceroy's House' and 'Beguiled' were highlighted.

After an excellent lunch we moved from the cinema style setting to workshop tables and encouraged by various questions, discussed the changing roles of women in film and shared memories of cinema going. Some members were regular cinema goers in the 1950s and 60s and recalled plots and stars from those times. Memories were stimulated and illuminated by posters, books and magazines from the University's Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. 

Many thanks to Carolyn Hempenstall, Glenda Cooper and the area team for arranging such an interesting, informative and stimulating event. I returned home inspired to find out more, view productions more critically and with a list of films to see and some to watch again.

Fiona and Danielle have kindly offered to create a pack so that other NWR groups can explore or revisit the Women in Film topic.

Josephine Burt

Oct 2017

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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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