Sara Jane Murray

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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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Conference Report - The Audacity to Dream

 

The Audacity to Dream - SW04 Area Day Conference

Salisbury. Saturday October 6th 2018

After weeks of wonderful, sunny early autumn weather 120 NWR members from far and wide arrived at Sarum Academy, Salisbury in pouring rain. What a good thing we had a bucket for the umbrellas!! Good humour was the order of the day however and the rain failed to dampen spirits!

The day, ‘The Audacity to Dream’, was planned with the 70th Birthday of the NHS in mind and with such a vast brief we honed in on a few unusual and perhaps lesser known aspects!

The proceedings began with 2 presentations of Singing for Health and Well Being. Liv Mclennan brought a few of her local ‘singing for lung health’ group along and soon had the entire auditorium on their feet making amazing faces and other contortions and then singing….even those who thought they couldn’t!!

This was followed by Kate Edgar who runs several local choirs. She spoke of the health benefits of singing and camaraderie and general ‘happiness’ factor and then members of her ‘Amici ‘ choir gave a rendition( with actions)of Tuxedo Junction and soon, once again the audience were on their feet singing their hearts out. What a lot of smiley faces…

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Then came our main speaker, the Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe (just call me Ann!) who spoke on ‘NHS - Dream or Nightmare’. Her presentation was amusing and much laughter filled the hall. It was also serious and thought provoking and a salutary warning that the NHS has to change dramatically to survive. Nye Bevan did not, and indeed could not, envisage or foresee the future back in 1948. The advances in medical science, the increase in average life expectancy and the growth in population and immigration all play their part in making the original ‘Dream’ into today’s unwieldy and underfunded ‘Nightmare’. Ann said she had no magic formula but felt strongly that an open discussion involving all political parties alongside professionals in the medical field must take place to come to any workable solution. Each political party in power has to stop passing the buck and blaming the next. There was ample question time and as usual NWR ladies were not backward in coming forward!

Then before a wonderful lunch, Laura Drysdale from the Restoration Trust gave a fascinating insight into The Human Henge Project which took place last year using the Stonehenge Landscape with English Heritage with a group of people with mental health problems. A few of the participants came along and read poems and one lady played a penny whistle for us! Part of the presentation was by Yvette Staelens who managed the Human Henge project and she presented a very moving and emotional and insightful audio visual record of the project.

After lunch everyone repaired to their chosen workshop on various aspects of health and well being after which each group reported back to a plenary session with a question or statement to ponder.

Then our Trustee Josephine Burt introduced our brand new Patron, Marion Molteno (incidentally she was a speaker at our last SW04 conference!) Marion introduced herself and asked that as Patron she might be involved as much as possible with area and national events in the future. She is a super, approachable, kind person with a wealth of experience and knowledge, so I urge all members to include her in NWR activities and to make her welcome.

We finished our day with more music, this time the glorious voce of Katie Ereira . Katie is hoping to gain a place at the Welsh Conservatoire next year and we wish he well. Her voice is truly ethereal and I think many attendees were close to tears as she filled the auditorium with 3 songs including Abba’s ‘I Have a Dream’ which seemed totally appropriate to the title of our day. Katie’s mum is one of our Salisbury NWR members.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our day. The Dream Team of Organisers was, and still is, well pleased!! The one common thread that came from all ideas and views expressed in the varied presentations is that we must all take some responsibility for our own health. The NHS turns up trumps in an emergency situation but has to deal with far too many unnecessary and avoidable pressures on its time, expertise and funds.

Sailsbury conference

Look after yourselves!

 

Vanessa Moulding

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

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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

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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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Devizes NWR Group on Track!

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Jenny, from Devizes NWR, has been in touch to tell us about her local group...

“Devizes NWR group held their first meeting in September 2011 and now have 13 members. We meet every three weeks, on a rolling rota of Monday to Thursday.

We try to have varied meetings and recent ones have included Inspiring Women, Human Evolution to Artificial Intelligence, a walking treasure trail and a music hall type drama entitled ‘Tram Track Tragedy’ (see the photo above!).

Other highlights were a speaker on mindfulness and a talk about prisons given by the ex-governor of Erlstoke Prison, and now governor of Portland Youth Offenders Institution.

We are looking forward to the Telephone Treasure Trail, an evening on the Supernatural and early next year a talk entitled ‘Heir Hunters - the real deal’.

We occasionally have daytime visits to gardens or exhibitions and we are looking forward to a visit to Newbury Watermill Theatre to see ‘Trial by Laughter’ by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman soon.

We would welcome new members to our group, please get in touch with the NWR office or via the contact form on the NWR website.”

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Spotlight on Crewe and District NWR Group

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Crewe & District NWR have been together since the 1960s. We have 16 members presently including two who have been members since the 1970s along with others who have joined recently. We meet fortnightly and meetings this year have included a vegan food tasting evening, a discussion based on the TED talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity’, a visit to Quarry Bank Mill, and researching the latest in DNA testing and genetic engineering. We have a book club using the local library service and have regular visits to the theatre.

Crewe NWR member Jill Lucas says “NWR means a lot to me because of the friendships made, the confidence it’s given me and it has broadened my horizons to consider subjects I would never have thought of.”

We are looking forward to the Telephone Treasure Trail soon; our group produced the questions a couple of years ago and we always enjoy the evening. Future meetings include ‘The Armed Man - a mass for peace’, and then at the opposite end of the music spectrum we will be investigating the latest dance/music genres - hip hop, grunge and garage! At the recent National Conference in Chester one of our members had the dubious honour of teaching the delegates the latest dance craze of ‘The Floss’!

Please do get in touch with is via the NWR office or the contact form on the NWR website if you would like to know more or would like to join us. You will be made to feel very welcome.

 

Crewe and District NWR Group.

 

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Top tips from the Chester Team

Chester conference lunch

 

Well the dust has finally settled on the Chester Conference 2018 - and what a success it was. Huge 'thank yous' once again to all the organisers. As the baton is firmly passed on to the organisers of Plymouth 2019 we asked Penny and Jill for the five top tips for running a successful conference, and here is what they said:

  1. Have enough people on the committee to do everything so as much as possible is in house and have frequent meetings.
  2. Book relevant speakers to the theme who will give food for thought and discussion.
  3. Plan activities that are a mixture of light and serious, also active both physically and mentally.
  4. Pay lots of attention to detail, check and check again on bookings, the booking system, communications and budget, and still be prepared for criticism.
  5. Have fun and look forward to a celebratory post conference lunch with new friends made...

Judging from the photograph it certainly seems that number 5 was taken seriously!

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Rubbish visit by Harrogate NWR!

resized Harrogate NWR members and friends at Allerton Waste Recovery Park

UK households bin more than 27 million tons of rubbish each year and we are running out of space in our landfill sites. Since spring 2018, waste from homes in North Yorkshire and the city of York is not dumped, untreated, in a hole in the ground but is processed at a brand new waste recovery centre.

Many local residents, including some members of Harrogate NWR, were concerned at the thought of an industrial waste processing plant near their homes. Contractors Amey, no doubt conscious of the need to win over local sceptics, have built a visitor centre on site and welcome adult groups and school parties. We decided to visit Allerton Waste Recovery Centre and see it for ourselves.

The top half of the shiny new building is easily visible, sitting amongst the fields beside the A1 road, but as it is built inside a disused quarry much of the site is hidden. The grounds have been landscaped and the, now obsolete, landfill site that was already there has been grassed over. First impressions on arrival were that the plant was surprisingly quiet and it didn’t smell. We learnt later that the building is kept under negative pressure to stop any odours escaping.

Debbie, our guide greeted us at the visitor centre and after coffee we took our seats for her presentation, explaining the workings of plant. The facility is not a recycling centre, it handles what’s left after householders have removed the recyclables. Bin lorries from the local area empty their load directly into the plant, waste from the more distant parts of the county is brought to site in large, sealed, containers. The waste is then sorted, the first material to be removed is food waste and other organic material. This is fed into an anaerobic digester where a colony of micro-organisms feed on the waste, excreting methane gas which is used to generate electricity for use on site.

Although householders should have removed recyclable materials before putting their waste in the bin, some gets through. A combination of magnets, eddy currents, light beams and jets of air are used to recover the recyclables. Then, just to make sure that nothing useful is left in the waste there is a final check by human operators. In case we had concluded that we could forget about recycling and go back to chucking all our waste in together, Debbie emphasised that the metals, glass and paper recovered this way are dirty, broken up and less useful and valuable than the nice clean material from our recycling bins.

Once all the useful materials have been recovered from the waste, the rest is burnt at extremely high temperatures, in the “energy from waste” plant, generating enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.

After Debbie’s presentation it was time to visit the plant itself. We had been instructed to wear long trousers and sensible shoes to which we now added bright yellow hi vis waistcoats.

When we got inside the processing plant it was a little smelly, but less so than a bin lorry on a hot day. It was also very quiet as the sorting equipment was not in operation; a householder had chucked something into their bin which had jammed up one of the trommel drums which are used to screen the waste at the beginning of the processing. None the less the equipment was still impressive to see.

We invited friends and partners to join our visit which proved so popular that a second visit is planned for those who couldn’t attend the first time. There are several similar sites around the country, maybe your group would enjoy a visit to your local one.

Sue Howes

Harrogate NWR

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Reflections on my (first!) 4 years in post, Josephine Burt

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Having just completed four years as a trustee I can honestly say that it's been a invigorating, challenging and enjoyable few years. So much so that I've signed up for another four years! Under the NWR's governing document that is the maximum.

I’ve learnt a huge amount about NWR, the charity sector and governance - it’s certainly been a steep learning curve. I’m continuing because I feel that I still have lots to offer and to provide some continuity.

Hearing from and meeting members has been a privilege and their commitment and support for NWR going forward has inspired me. I really look forward to going to the national conference, area meetings and Area Organisers workshops. We all want NWR to continue to provide a space for women to have stimulating discussions, meet friends and have fun

My aim has always been to move NWR forward and to be open and transparent as a charity. Developments are a challenge with our limited funds and we continue to seek ways of diversifying our income. However we have introduced regular membership surveys, some competitions, more centrally organised events and are excited about welcoming a patron soon. Our approaching 60th anniversary is a great opportunity to celebrate with members and raise our awareness. Alongside this NWR is a well organised charity, meeting all the legal and compliance requirements.

Inevitably there have been challenges. One continuing challenge has been increasing our reach to attract more members. Another frustrating aspect has been the high staff and trustee turnover in the last three years for a variety of reasons. However we have a team led by Natalie Punter, our National Organiser, who is committed and focused and ready to take on change.

Let's see what we can achieve in the next four years.

 

Josephone Burt

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Last few places for 'Audacity to Dream' regional conference

This day conference in Salisbury is organised by the SW04 NWR area and offers a mix of keynote speeches and though-provoking afternoon workshops celebrating 70 years of the NHS.  There will be coffee on arrival and a delicious buffet lunch with wine and fruit juice included. There are just a few places left, so please do book soon.

Venue: Sarum Academy, Salisbury

Date: 6th October 2018

For bookings and further information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Trustee Jennifer Johnson presents this year's Mary Stott award...

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I was delighted to be involved in the Mary Stott Award this year.

Just a little about Mary and why there should be an Award in her name. Mary was a Guardian journalist who was instrumental in getting NHR (as we were then) off the ground almost 60 years ago. She continued to support NWR throughout her long life. She died aged 95 in 2002 and in 2003, in recognition of her support, the NWR Trustees decided to give and annual award to an NWR member who has achieved something exceptional during the previous year. This is the Mary Stott Award!

This year we were delighted to have 3 nominations all of whom had done truly exceptional things. It was difficult job for our panel to make a choice but we were happy to announce our winner was Jenny Wright of the Seaford NWR Group. She was nominated by Barbara Richardson of the Shoreham by Sea Group.

A bit about Jenny - Jenny has always liked to be busy and has been in a variety of clubs and societies ranging from the Adam Faith Fan club, the Scooter Club and ultimately graduating to NWR; what development and variety! Jenny moved to Seaford 17 years ago and there was no NWR group in the area. Barbara suggested she might like to use her organisational and people skills to set one up - this she did! Now 17 years later they have over 70 members.

Jenny is being honoured with this award because she is exceptional in her commitment to NWR, its vision and mission, to the ladies of Seaford who have benefited from her own commitment and care. Jenny embodies what NWR is all about during a time of exceptional challenges experienced by many organisations.

Jennifer Johnson, NWR Trustee

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Egg-citing news for NWR!

Eggheads Team

As you know, we tried to get a team onto the Eggheads TV quiz last year, but didn’t get through to filming. Well, NWR members are nothing if not tenacious, and I am DELIGHTED to tell you that as I type this our team of ‘Lively Minded Women’ are at the TV studios in Glasgow being filmed for the latest series of Eggheads.

We don’t yet know when it will be broadcast, but I’ll let you know as soon as we know the date. Please don’t ask us for any more details as we are legally bound not to give away any more information. But to say I am EGG-cited is an understatement (sorry, couldn’t help myself...)

Here’s a little more about the team of six (five of them will be filmed):

Susan has been a member of NWR for 22 years. She first joined when she moved to Cambridge as it was a good way to meet new people. Susan is 63 years old, and is a part time visitor guide at Kings College. She enjoys gardening, quizzes, and vintage cinema and really enjoys the variety of topics discussed at the Cambridge group NWR meetings.

Valerie lives with her husband, Dave, daughter Beth, and two cats, Smudge and Shaggy, in Luton. Valerie also has a son, Alexander, and three grandchildren. She has been married nearly 40 years and will be celebrating her Ruby anniversary next month in Jersey. Valerie works in administration and as an invigilator, but her social life is very important, and she enjoys a number of activities with NWR as a member of the Luton and South Beds Villages Group.

Isabelle lives in Dunfermline, Fife, with her husband and adult son and is a member of Dunfermline NWR. Whilst her career in Higher Education as an Effective Learning Advisor was enormously satisfying, recent early retirement has given Isabelle the opportunity to enjoy more time outdoors, walking and gardening.

Jan lives in the hills to the east of Manchester and is the Treasurer of the Mellor NWR group. She is married and enjoying retirement following a career in HR. An erstwhile equestrian, she is still very much involved with horses and has a keen interest in National Hunt racing. She enjoys walking with her two Border Collies and is an active gardener. Jan also likes to travel and indulge in the many cultural activities that the North West offers.

Anne is an Essex girl and is a retired optometrist. She loves opera, ballet, animals and amateur dramatics. She has been revising very hard for the Sport round on Eggheads by watching the World Cup and Wimbledon - this has of course been a terrible hardship for her!! Anne is a member of the Hadleigh NWR group.

Georgie is one of the 2 Essex girls in the team. She was for many years a member of Dronfield NWR in Derbyshire, but 4 years ago moved back to the village where she grew up, to look after her elderly mother. She now helps to run the local community bar, and has spent the last two weeks swotting up on US Presidents and capital cities! Georgie is a member of the Harwich and Dovercourt NWR group.

I am sure you will all join us in wishing the team the very best of luck!

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My first conference as a Trustee...

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I’ve been asked to write a Blog about my first experience of a Conference as a Trustee, and this is the first blog I’ve ever written; so that’s another new life skill I’ve learnt since volunteering!

The last Conference I attended was York, in 2003, before I went to live abroad. Then, I was part of the organising committee, so Chester 2018 felt very different. I felt quite emotional as I was voted in, but was also wondering, what have I done? Luckily, everyone was very kind to me when it was my turn to speak and once that was over, I was really able to relax enjoy the rest of the day.

Apart from the AGM, being a Trustee at the Conference is no different to being a normal delegate and, like everyone there, I had a great weekend in Chester. The Speakers and Wrap Around events were excellent, although maybe I enjoyed the wine tasting a little too much! All the catering was delicious and efficiently delivered by smiley staff, especially the Friday and Saturday night events.

I liked meeting and chatting to members from all over the country and putting faces to those names I had previously only seen on Facebook or in emails. I was thrilled to catch up with a friend from that York committee, and also with the person who first introduced me to NWR, but who I hadn’t seen for 30 years. Thank goodness for name badges! We’d both moved around the country several times in the interim, but had always managed to find an NWR group to join and were grateful for the friendships that resulted. I also spoke to a lady I’d never met before, who spoke about volunteering at the Olympics. When I asked her if, by any chance she’d come across a friend of mine who’d also been a volunteer, they had, coincidentally, worked together. I love the links and connexions that belonging to a national organisation like NWR brings.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be attached to a local group, but even as an Independent member like me, it’s possible to enjoy a lot of what NWR has to offer by joining in with area and national events whenever possible. The organisers go to a lot of trouble to make them fully inclusive and there’s always a friendly face ready for a chat, so no-one needs to feel alone. We’re all part of the NWR Community.

Gillian Wignall, Trustee and Independent Member

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My thoughts on another fabulous conference - Chester 2018 by Josephine Burt

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Once members attend a national conference they have such a good time that they usually go again. Chester was my 7th national conference and yet another exhilarating, informative and fun weekend. The conference theme 2018 was 'Nature versus Human Innovation' so quite a challenging topic for the organising committee. However they found three excellent speakers working in the fields of genetics, sustainable agriculture and conservation.

The first speaker was Dr Lyndsey Craven-Butterworth from the University of Newcastle on Mitacondrial Research who are pioneering IVF-based techniques which has led to what the press call 'Three parent babies'. She was enthusiastic and gave a fascinating talk to explain what Mitacondria are and that Mitacondrial DNA disease is carried through generations by women. The first baby is due later this year.

Dr Kate Pressland from the Soil Association spoke after lunch. Kate runs the Innovative Farmers programme which aims to bring scientists and farmers together in order to provide good food without the use of chemicals. This is hugely important for the ecosystems and for us.

The Sunday morning conference was a new option which attracted 84 members back to the Queens Hotel. Jennifer Tegg, Head of Marketing at Chester Zoo, gave a passionate and fascinating illustrated talk on palm oil production in Borneo and the conservation of orangutans in which Chester Zoo is is a world leader. Chester is now working towards becoming the world's first sustainable palm oil city engaging with restaurants, hotels, manufacturers etc to achieve this.

There was a wide variety of optional wrap-around events and workshops from Friday till Sunday which created a stimulating and full programme. I enjoyed the 'Horrible handwriting' and walking the Chester walls and I heard great reports of the wine- tasting, the drumming workshop, the ghost walk and Discovering the Rows walk.

I am looking forward to the Plymouth conference in 2019 already with its theme of Voyage and Discovery. It's an opportunity to learn about new topics, make friends and have fun and perhaps have a holiday in beautiful Devon. Why not join me?

Josephine Burt

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Join the fight against dementia.

A major UK study, run by scientists at King’s College London, makes it possible for members of the public to support dementia research from the comfort of their own home.

The PROTECT Study is an online project that aims to understand what happens to our brains as we age and why people develop dementia. It is gathering valuable data on how the brain changes with age and investigating which factors in mid-life affect our risk for the disease. Certain lifestyle factors such as exercise, smoking and blood pressure have been found to affect our risk of dementia, and there is increasing evidence that our genes play a role too.

Participants in PROTECT provide lifestyle information about themselves and complete online assessments to measure their abilities in areas such as memory and reasoning. By repeating these assessments each year, the PROTECT investigators will monitor how they change over the study and gather data that will help develop better approaches to prevent and treat dementia in the future. To help answer the study’s genetic questions, participants are also asked to provide a sample of their DNA through a simple at-home kit.

Prof Dag Aarsland, Chair of Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College London and a Lead Investigator for the PROTECT study, says “The great thing about online projects is that you are breaking the geographical boundaries between eager participants and research departments. PROTECT is something you can simply do from home and shape around your own lifestyle. Although the tests are not demanding in nature, their future value to researchers will be indescribable.”

Who can join the PROTECT Study?  You can take part in the project if:

  • You are aged 50 or over.
  • You live in the United Kingdom.
  • You have not been diagnosed with dementia.
  • You have access to a computer and the internet.

PROTECT is actively looking for people to take part and has an overall target of 50,000 participants across the UK. The study itself is due to last a period of 10 years, but participants can choose to stay involved for as little or as long as they like.

 

Keep updated on related research

Other than advancing dementia research, taking part in PROTECT means you would be joining a stronghold of 24,000 participants from across the UK! You would be kept updated on the project through the PROTECT newsletter, and can read up on fascinating findings from an array of scientific fields — dementia, schizophrenia, addictions, autism and more — through the King’s College London newsfeed.

You would also be the first to hear of new exciting sub-studies hosted on the PROTECT platform, and have the opportunity to take part in novel research such as the popular Brain Training programme. Although the Brain Training study has now ended, the games are still available and free to use by all PROTECT participants.

If you’ve always thought about taking part in research but felt uneasy about drug trials or the prospect of clinic visits, then this could be the study for you.

To find out more about PROTECT or to enrol in the study, please visit www.protectstudy.org.uk

Their friendly helpdesk team can be contacted via email or phone:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

0207 848 8183

PROTECT is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre

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Heather De Lacey
I signed up to this as soon as I read about it in the latest magazine. In common with lots of people I'm sure, I have come into f... Read More
Monday, 04 June 2018 14:24
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Thank you to all our volunteers!

NWRquote10

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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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National Conference now open to non-members

We are delighted to be able to release a few tickets for our national conference 'Nature versus Human Innovation' to non-members.  Why not bring a friend to find out more about NWR and enjoy a day of fascinating talks, stimulating discussion and engaging workshops. The main conference takes place in Chester on Saturday 23rd June, with optional events on the Friday and Sunday as well, so why not make a weekend of it?

Tickets for the Saturday conference are just £65 for non-members and all the details can be found on our booking site here

Tickets for NWR members are also still available, please do book soon as many of the workshops and wrap-around events have limited spaces and some are already booked up!

 

See you in Chester in June we hope!

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Important information for all members...

New General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws mean that we need your permission to stay in touch for any reason beyond basic membership functions, even if you’ve given us permission before.

Staying in touch is the best way to get the most from your membership. Whether you want to find out about nearby events, theme related information and activities, the national conference, or sign up to the TTT, we’ll keep you up to date. What’s more, you can hear first-hand about all the exciting developments of NWR - including activities for our 60th anniversary in 2020.

There are always new opportunities to get involved, so whatever matters to you, don’t miss out. Visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NWR_GDPR by the 31st May and update your preferences to allow us to stay in touch.

You can change your preferences at any time by contacting the office.

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