Leighton Buzzard Day Conference – The Rothschilds in the Vale of Aylesbury

As the sun rose on Saturday May 19th it promised to be the start of a perfect day for the big event, our day conference, the first that Leighton Buzzard group had ever held. It had been a long while in the planning, and although we were fully booked at an early stage there were last-minute nerves as we anticipated the arrival of our guests for the day.

There was another big event on the same day, which we thought might affect attendance, but in fact it didn’t seem to matter, and of course those who were so inclined could record it all and watch it at leisure later in the day.

Our first speaker, Susan Brooke, is a freelance art historian and guide at Waddesdon Manor. She explained how the Rothschilds built their wealth and financial expertise on the basis of being trustworthy and reliable guardians of their clients’ wealth, and as they rose through the ranks of society they were keen to impress, building magnificent houses and filling them with the most opulent treasures they could find. Contrary to other families who had amassed great wealth, they were careful not to squander it so as to pass the baton to the next generation.

The second speaker, Catherine Taylor, is head archivist at Waddesdon Manor, and gave us a fascinating history of the different Rothschild homes in our area, together with entertaining stories of some of the occupants. She also emphasised the considerable philanthropic work undertaken by the family, together with the various trusts and foundations which were set up over the years.

After a delicious and very varied bring and share lunch, attendees had the opportunity to visit Ascott House, a Rothschild home just half a mile from where our event was held in Wing Village Hall, either exploring the treasures displayed in the house or enjoying the beautiful and extensive gardens. Others opted for a walk round the village. Tea and cakes were offered on their return to the hall before setting off on the journey home.

We received some lovely comments during the day, including “Just a note to say all three of us from North Beds. Villages enjoyed Saturday very much. Interesting speakers and we were very impressed with Ascott House and the lovely gardens", and, “Thank you and your NWR colleagues for giving us all such a good day.  
It was all so well organised and you had made the venue look so inviting. Ascott House is delightful and the gardens and wonderful - mind you such good weather helped! Many thanks.” Thame NWR

We went home tired, but relieved it had all gone well and that everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. Who knows, we might even organize another event one day!

Jo Thomson

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CHAOS, in particular ‘Positivity in an era of chaos’

CHAOS, in particular ‘Positivity in an era of chaos’

Carlisle one day Conference.

Val Bassindale, Carlisle NWR

It was May 2017, I had just taken over as LO, and we were all sat having our annual dinner enjoying a glass or two of wine, when I made an off hand comment about hosting an NWR conference in Carlisle. After receiving such a positive response, I decided to follow it up (making sure it wasn’t just the wine speaking) with an email to all members, who again confirmed their support. I quickly set up a small sub-committee with volunteers and we had our first meeting in July. Well, since then we have never looked back !!!

Fast forward to 19th April 2018, the day of our Conference.

The venue was a modern hotel in the centre of Carlisle, within easy walking distance of the train station. We had 120 delegates, representing 30 NWR branches from as far north as Arbroath and Marchington in the south. The furthest person travelled 191 miles from Grantham, which we acknowledged with a £20.00 book token.

We had three fantastic speakers, who all have strong links to Cumbria and coincidentally their first names all began with the letter M.

The first speaker, Marcia Reid Fotheringham, a retired clinical psychologist, currently performs the role of a Magistrate and is the chair of the North & West Cumbria Bench and High Sheriff of Cumbria elect for 2019/20. She talked about her fascinating life and career in the USA & UK and how she drew positivity from the racism she has encountered. Telling us an extraordinary story about a group of Morris Dancers who blacked their faces and sang slave songs. Well that was until the formidable Marcia intervened!!

The second speaker, Marie-Elsa Bragg, writer, Jesuit Spiritual Director, ordained Anglican priest and Duty Chaplain of Westminster Abbey. Delivered a mesmerising talk on how she became one of the first women to become an ordained priest and how she led a minute silence in respect of those lost and injured in the terrorist attack in London 2017.

The third speaker, Miranda Kirschel MBE, founded ‘Women in Nuclear UK’ in 2014 to improve gender balance and encourage capacity building in the nuclear industry and to improve engagement on nuclear with women in public. Delivered a very personal and stimulating power point presentation.

We had 12 tables with 10 delegates around each table, and after each speaker there was a 20 minutes table discussion, which was led by a Carlisle member, who would produce a question. Following this, each speaker would be asked 10 minutes worth of questions.

The last event of the day was a plenary with Marie-Elsa Braggs and Miranda Kirschel, with questions provided by the delegates, providing a further interesting insight into their lives and careers.

My top 5 tips for organising a one day conference:

  1. Choose a subject that is relevant & enables your speakers to put their own slant on it.
  2. Confirm your speakers as early as possible and aim high.
  3. Confirm venue & price asap – within easy reach of a train station & car parking.
  4. Be organised and don’t forget the detail.
  5. Have fun.
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Successful area lunch in Devon.

Ivybridge group organised another successful Area Lunch on Saturday 24 March at the Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre in Devon. 93 members from all over the South West and as far afield as Solihull attended and it is always great to catch up with members you have met before.

First on the programme was a welcome from Brother Christopher and a humorous description of day in the life of a monk including questions such as 'Are you a monk?' and 'Where are the nuns?'! Then we were treated to a fascinating presentation by the Abbey beekeeper Clare Densley. Clare
explained the changing role of the bee colonies at Buckfast from honey production to a focus on education about bees and bee keeping courses. She showed us different beehives, went through the lifecycle of the bee and finally recommended plants to grow for bees including dandelions, Vipers Bugloss and forget-me-knots.

After a superb two course lunch in the light and spacious Refectory complete with complimentary fudge, the Devon author Marcia Willett joined us. Marcia's writing career started aged 50 and she has now written 29 books including short stories under her pseudonym Willa Marsh. Landscape is always the first 'character ' in her books and then other characters evolve and the plot. Her research always includes lots of visits to the setting of the stories which are often places in Devon.

The formal sessions concluded with a brief explanation on the duties of a trustee, by trustee Josephine Burt and exciting news from Natalie Punter, NWR National Organiser about the 2019 national conference. The Joint Area Organiser, Glenda Cooper concluded with huge thanks to the Ivybridge Group, led by Anne Brooks and Marilyn Coles, for organising such a stimulating and enjoyable day.

Despite the wet weather some members made the most of their visit with a guided tour of the Abbey gardens and a visit to the bee barn.

The planning for the 2019 Area conference in Tavistock on Saturday 23 March is well under way so what better excuse for a short break in Devon!

Josephne Burt, Trustee

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The impact of NWR, a member's quote...

For International Women's Day, March 8th, we felt this quote from an NWR member says it all. To all our NWR members, and women and men across the world we'd like to ask you to join us in celebrating this day and make sure your voice is heard...

 

nwrquote5

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How to self publish your creative writing...

We know that many NWR members are very creative, with many of you writing peoms, short stories and even novels.  Here, NWR member Sally Krykant offers some advice on getting your work self published...

I have been writing for many years on and off. I began when my children were small and used to enter short story competitions. When I realised I wasn’t getting anywhere, I did an Open College of the Arts Creative writing course and improved, getting a few short story anthologies to take my work. However, I then changed direction completely and became a psychodynamic counsellor. During that time I hardly read a novel. My attention was concentrated on theory books and papers but I always knew I would return to writing.

Thinking psychodynamically has helped me enormously with writing, helping me to empathise with characters and think on many different levels about plot and developing story lines.

It is very difficult to get taken on by publishers. One absolutely needs an agent these days and so I knocked a few doors with negative response. Curtis Brown Associates in London gave me some encouragement when I sent them my manuscript for Seeds of Doubt, telling me it was a lot better than many they received and to keep on with the project. I joined a couple of writing groups and met people who had self published their work. At that time I was almost tempted to go with a vanity publisher but was warned off by many writers I spoke to on the Suffolk Writers website. There is a long article in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook which warns writers not to go the vanity route – too expensive, those handling you do not necessarily have a publishing background or interest and also your work can be pulped if it doesn’t sell.

Self publishing has been an easy and inexpensive way of getting my book onto the shelves. Createspace is a part of Amazon. Firstly, you need someone you trust to proofread your manuscript. A fellow writer read mine. Next, you need to have it set out in the way it will be laid out. Createspace list all you need to know on their webpage. Finally, you need a book cover. You can either choose one from their examples or commission one yourself. I chose to have a young artist, who I found on Suffolk Writers, design mine. When you feel everything is in place you then need to send it across on a pdf file. It is then displayed for you on the account page which you will have set up. You will see your book in animated form on your computer and turn the pages, checking for layout errors. An ISBN number is automatically assigned. They will send you a paper copy for the last proof read.

As soon as you give the go ahead you can start ordering books to sell yourself, and your book is immediately for sale on Amazon Books. You can either do all of this yourself for very little or pay Createspace for services as you go along, but I would simply advise anyone to do it this way. You are in complete control. I felt I was collaborating with people rather than being taken over.

Sally Krykant

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