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