Meet the Houston Group...

Balfron NWR 2018 2709 Copy

The Houston group, Renfrewshire, meet twice monthly and have around 15 members many of whom are long standing since we formed in 1981.

Recently we have had lively discussions stimulated by newspaper cuttings and a book evening on ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman.

One of our members visited Romania and was able to give us first hand information accompanied by a slide show and Palinca schnapps.

The photo was taken in Balfron, Stirlingshire, where we had a most interesting guided tour of the village. We have also walked round Glasgow city centre discovering many amazing hidden murals painted by various street artists.

We are eagerly awaiting the Telephone Treasure Trail which always gets our brains fired up.

New members are always warmly welcomed to join us in stimulating company and friendship.

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NWR POSTAL BOOK GROUPS AND ME by Catharine Woodliffe

 

CW

 

The Postal Book Groups began in 1986. I am the third Organiser, taking over in 2012, after being a member for over fifteen years.

When I started there were six Groups of 12; this has now halved. I changed from having the Groups starting at different months of the year; to having them all start on 1st April. Although this was hard to set up initially, the organisation is a lot easier as when membership changes, I can re-arrange the Groups accordingly.

 

How does it work?

Each Group is given an address circle with arrows indicating to whom they are to send their book.

The members each select a book to post on the 1st April and send it to their designated recipient, together with a small notebook in which others make notes. The book can be of any genre – fiction or non-fiction. I have known poetry and short stories be sent. The only things I recommend is that the book must be in print (sometimes books have been lost in the post), and is not of any personal value. The book is sent First Class in a jiffy bag with a certificate of posting which is free of charge.

On the 1st of each month, the books go on their merry way around the country until they eventually come back to their original senders.

Being a member of a Postal Book Group is like having a birthday every month, as you do not know what will drop on your mat. Sometimes you may have already read the book (very rare), and very occasionally, the same book can be sent twice within the Group. The same author and different books have also occurred.

A member of each Group keeps a list of the books and then sends it to me at the end of the year, so I can then send out the list and ask for 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices of their favourites for the year. I then work out which is the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The way I do is to score 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd and 1 point for 3rd.

 

NWR and me

I joined NWR in January 1991 when my older son was 10 months old. I have been LO of Boston Group a couple of times and also on the Organising Committee of the two very successful Good Read Day Conferences in 2004 and 2007. I am also involved with the 2020 Celebrations, having been to the Inaugural Meeting earlier in the year.

I was also a member of a Correspondence Magazine for about 10 years, but eventually gave up as my children did not like me writing about them.

I was originally a member of Boston Group until 2006 when I became an Independent Member. This was because I had to work on the evening that Boston Group met, and I did not want to miss out on NWR membership. I still went to Boston Group when I could, together with Grantham and Horncastle Groups who both made me very welcome. I re-joined Boston Group last year.

My first Conference was Nottingham 2001. I always said that I would go to Conference when it was near enough, and when I felt my sons were old enough to be left. I have been to every Conference since apart from two. I thoroughly enjoy the buzz of Conference and meeting up with old friends and making new ones, which is what being an NWR member is all about!

 

Catharine Woodliffe

Recent comment in this post
Liz Valette
Well done Catharine, you're doing an excellent job. I'm sure members of the postal book group appreciate your efforts.
Saturday, 03 November 2018 19:26
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An Independent Woman!

I am Gill Wignall, Independent Member and trustee of NWR.

Gill Wignall

Before moving to Poland in Spring 2003, I’d been a member of NWR for almost twenty years. It had been an important part of my life since having our children, providing me with friendship, fun, support and intellectual exercise. In addition to our normal meetings, we would meet for coffee or lunch, go swimming or sometimes for camping weekends. In the summer, we would take turns to host a ‘summer playscheme’, keeping our children active and amused and our sanity intact. I still count many of the ladies I met then as friends and our children have become friends too.

Mostly out of loyalty, when we moved abroad, I became an Independent member of NWR. Loyalty, but also because I didn’t know if or when we would return to the UK and where we might be living. I knew from experience of moving in the UK, the value of that National Register of groups. Living in a foreign country with no language skills, family or friends, I quickly recognized again, the benefits of belonging to a women’s group. I checked, but NWR didn’t extend to Poznan. Luckily, I found Open Door, which is like NWR, in that it provides a listing of groups of ladies, but this is international and includes groups from all over the world. I found, and joined, the Poznan International Ladies Club, which provided me (us) with help, new friends, a busy social life and excellent dentistry! When we later moved to Germany, I joined other International Ladies Groups, but In Trier, where none existed, I found an NWR group just a few miles across the border in Luxembourg. The Register had worked for me again and I enjoyed several meetings with the Luxembourg ladies, until we moved on once more.

Back in the UK, my local NWR group had folded. Other things like Book Club, Flower Club, Yoga and Bridge, seem to have taken its place for us oldies, whilst younger people say they are too busy and aren’t interested in joining groups like ours. Maybe, one day, they’ll come to appreciate the value of women’s groups. I have always found that they offer a special friendship and support network, which is particularly important when families no longer live close together.

Anyway, I’m happy to remain an Independent member, although I know that I would be made welcome if I wanted to go along and join in with any of the (not very!) nearby groups. I enjoy looking at the Website, reading other people’s blogs and look forward to reading the magazine, particularly to see what our lively members have been up to. I have joined several Facebook groups, enjoying the interesting debates that go on there, and although I am not a part of it, the Postal book group is ideal for independent members. With my friend, who is also an Independent member, I have been to several excellent day conferences and this year I also attended the Annual Conference in Chester. It didn’t matter at all that I was on my own, everyone was very welcoming and friendly. The whole weekend was great fun and it was lovely to catch up with old friends

There are activities for us Independents to enjoy and be a part of, but without the benefit of an Area or Local Organizer, it isn’t always so easy to find out about things that might be of interest. A good website is a great asset, whilst newsletters and emails from the Office and Natalie are always a welcome way of keeping us informed. I think it’s very important that every effort is made to ensure that Independent members particularly, are kept up to date and made to feel a valued part of NWR.

Gill Wignall, Independent Member and Trustee of NWR.

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My first year as a Trustee – Ann Fox

Ann

 

My first year as a Trustee has sped by. I wasn’t quite sure what was expected of me but having initially sat in as an observer I’ve found I really enjoy my involvement with the behind-the-scenes aspect of the organisation. All the team are very committed and we have lots of stimulating discussions too – very NWR!

In addition to the quarterly Trustee Meetings we also met to plan the NWR’s strategy for 2019-2022, an opportunity to explore all areas of the organisation and decide where we want to be in that time. We also met our new patron, Marion Molteno, which is a very exciting development for NWR.

I keep abreast of other membership organisations and their issues through MemberWise, a fount of knowledge membership-wise. It’s a professional network which provides help and support on any number of topics.

Earlier this year I set up and distributed a survey to the LOs of the larger groups. The Trustees are aware that some groups feel they cannot cope with more members and are therefore restricting their membership; this is against the ethos of NWR, in that we should be open and welcome to all, and it was agreed that I would ask the LOs in order to ascertain how it works for them and for any ideas that other groups could use. The report is nearly ready to be published and there are lots of suggestions as to how alternative ways of operating can be beneficial to us all.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the National Conference in Chester due to the wedding of a close friend – the first time I’ve not attended the National Conference for many years (weddings and funerals being about the only things that would stop me going!)

I attended the Area Meeting in Navenby led by Faith Oxford, Deepings group’s AO, whose meetings are always interesting and good fun. Faith talked about the various ways of running a group (the LO does NOT have to do everything!) and another member of our group showed us how easy it is to upload information to the website.

I was also recently involved in the recruitment of the new Membership & Communications Coordinator. There was a huge interest in this new post and we’re lucky to have recruited a brilliant lady who will be introduced to you soon and who hopefully many of you will get to meet.

I’m delighted too by the huge support for the planning of our 60th anniversary celebrations in 2020 which I’m very much looking forward to.

It’s been a very interesting year. I still have lots to learn but I’m pleased to feel I have something to offer after all I’ve got from NWR over the many years I’ve been a member. Long may it continue!

(Now to get back to that art history talk I’m prepping for our group’s meeting next month…)

 

Ann Fox, Deepings Group member and Trustee

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Lots going on at 'Esher and The Dittons'...

Dittons 1

 

Our NWR group is based in that part of Surrey which borders South West London. Our members don’t just live in Esher, but in its surrounding towns and villages, including Thames Ditton and Long Ditton (hence ‘the Dittons’ in our name.) We serve Cobham and Oxshott too. I am the current local organiser but I only joined the group 6 years ago so I have had to refer to some of our founder members to obtain details of our group in the early days. Evidently the group was set up in 1979 at a time when many of our current members were at home with small children and wanted some intellectual stimulus besides trips to the park and nappy changing! Group numbers have varied over time from 10 to 30 members and at the moment we are at the lower end of that scale, but we are actively recruiting new members.

 

A walk in the woods of Esher Common followed by a summer lunch party at a member’s house was enjoyed by members in August this year and a visit to the Houses of Parliament and lunch on the South Bank was a great day out.

 

Our meetings this year have included a wide range of discussions on many topics invoking much lively debate. Social activities have included a ‘Mulled Wine and Mince Pies Evening’ at Christmas, a Summer Lunch, and a New Year Party. We particularly enjoyed entering a team for the Quiz Evening organised by the Dorking NWR group. A firm favourite which is well attended every year is the NWR Telephone Quiz organised nationally. Musical evenings with Spotify (choosing our favourite songs from our teenage years) have been much enjoyed and we have arranged an outside speaker on ‘Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking’.

 

Two recent quotes from members as to why they joined the NWR sums up what many of us feel and why we joined in the first place:

“Since I retired I have appreciated being able to get out and meet new people”

“I just love having a lively discussion followed by tea and biscuits, then a good old chat”

 

Group numbers have varied over time from 10 to 30 members and at the moment we are at the lower end of that scale, but we are actively recruiting new members so please do get in touch with via the NWR office or website. We look forward to welcoming you!

 

Catherine Davies, Local Organiser, Esher & the Dittons NWR

Dittons 2

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