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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Ladies in Lavender!

Lavender Farm Ladies

A message from the ‘Ladies in Lavender’ from the Ringwood Group...

"Our group is quite new and started in April 2015. We are now 11 members and some have joined after moving into the area from another group, some, like me, have re-joined after belonging years ago and some are completely new to NWR. We have expanded our monthly meetings from an evening discussion meeting to include an afternoon book group and a lunch club.

We try to choose unusual venues for our lunches and include a discussion topic relevant to the location. For example, in the restaurant in a local converted church we discussed 'Stained Glass windows’; ‘Love Affairs’ was the topic at Lily Langtry's and at the RNLI restaurant we will be reviewing 'Disasters at Sea’.

At our evening sessions topics we have discussed include ‘Fashion disasters – yours or other people’s’, ‘Assassinations’, ‘The Shipping Forecast’, ‘Anything beginning with R’, a play reading, and a speaker on hydrangeas. We are looking forward to a Romanian evening and the annual telephone treasure trail. In March we arranged an area quiz night and were delighted to meet with members from other Wilts, Hants and Dorset groups for quite a noisy evening to challenge our grey cells – Salisbury group won!

New members are always welcome to try us out so please contact us through the NWR website to find out more over an informal coffee.

The photo shows some members on an outing and Dee Ap Simon said ‘Our group enjoyed a delicious lavender scone cream tea in the Lavender Garden near Salisbury, surrounded by the busy buzz of bees harvesting the nectar and pollen. Behind us a magnificent second garden was ablaze with masses of wild flowers. A veritable feast for all.’

Please do contact us if you would like to join us."

Wendy Jefferies, Ringwood NWR Group

 

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Hello from Leighton Buzzard...

Hello from Leighton Buzzard in deepest Bedfordshire...

Leighton Buzzard group has been going so long that no one can remember when it started but we believe it was some time in the 1980s when many had small children.

Sue, one of our more recent members said:

"I first joined NHR, as it was then, back in the Seventies when I first moved to Bricket Wood, St Albans.  My main reasons for joining then were:

  • The babysitting circle as when I first joined I was 8 months pregnant with my first child;
  • I was new to the area and also about to give up work to become a mother and wanted to meet like minded people.
  • The NHR fulfilled all my expectations and more: I was immediately involved in village life; meeting other young mums and taking up new interests.

On hearing that there was a local NWR Group here in Leighton Buzzard, I knew straight away that I wanted to join and, once again: I have been warmly welcomed; am joining in a range of activities; making new friends; taking part in lively debates; and thoroughly enjoying being part of the NWR again."

We have grown in the last year or so and currently have 35 members. We enjoy Discussion Meetings, lunches, walks, coffee mornings, scrabble and one-off events. We also have two thriving book groups. One of our recent outings was to the East End of London when we had an enthusiastic guide called Nathan who took us on a Street Art tour. We chose one of the hottest days of the year, so at the end of this fascinating experience of art and culture, we couldn’t wait to quench our thirst with various varieties of liquid. Here we are, exhausted but very happy...

photo LB

 

We finished off the day with a curry supper in one of the Indian restaurants in Brick Lane. Thanks go to Heather who is well known for her trips, this was one of the best.

We enjoyed the company of many NWR members at a day conference we organised in May entitled: The Rothschilds in the Vale of Aylesbury. There’s hint of another one in the pipeline one day, we’ll have to wait and see!

Now we have a large membership we have split the Discussion Meetings into two. On the same day and same subject, we offer a 2.00pm meeting and an 8.00pm meeting. Members can go to whichever they like, both if they wish. This flexibility has worked well and adding together the attendance at both times, shows that overall attendance has increased.

We’ve talked about the NHS, Shipping Forecast, Votes for Women, our Family Tree to name a few. We were entertained by a lively auctioneer who told us all about his experiences in the antique business. We are now looking forward to the TTT and thinking about our Planning Meeting for 2019. As ever, am sure our members will come up with lots of imaginative ideas for us to look forward to next year.

 

Penny Jamieson LO, Leighton Buzzard

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