Poring over the Past – NWR at the Women’s Library

Poring over the Past – NWR at the Women’s Library

This week our chair of trustees, Josephine Burt, along with National Organiser Natalie Punter and Mary Stott Award winner (and former National Organiser) Antoinette Ferraro visited the Women's Library at the London School of Economics (LSE). This library holds records of the women’s’ movement in 19th and 20th centuries including the NHR/NWR archives.  Here's what she had to say.

Antoinette, Natalie and I recently spent a wonderfully interesting day at The Women’s Library (part of the British Library and currently housed at the London School Of Economics, LSE, in Central London) looking at 60 years of NWR heritage.

The Women's Library houses England’s primary library and museum resource on women, women’s issues and history, and the women’s movement from, primarily, the 19th and 20th centuries. The main collection dates back to the mid-1920s, though the core collection was formed from a library established by Ruth Cavendish Bentinck in 1909. These archives moved to LSE, as part of the British Library collection, in 2013.

We had the opportunity to view photos and marketing materials dating back to the early 60s even the official annual reports and financial returns, though we decided to leave those for another day!

It was lovely to see photos of the women who set up and ran the organisation from 1980 - having read the book that details our first twenty years 1960-1980 (“The Lively-Minded Women” by Betty Jerman published in 1980) and it was great to see the original materials upon which it was based. Antoinette was delighted to find some photos of the National Group in the 1980's which included her.

Some of the publicity materials looked very dated, as they would, but the Golden Anniversary literature (from 2010) looked fresh and vibrant. We also found a hidden gem – a poster from the 1960s – which we are thinking of rejuvenating for our anniversary! (watch this space).  It was sobering and yet reassuring to find that the problems and issues we have today have been there over the years and are really a feature of informal organisations such as ours.

I felt very nostalgic when I found some local press cuttings from Leighton Buzzard from the 1980's and recognised the names of friends I met through NWR. I’d like to thank our members and LOs for keeping such excellent records of our history and I think we owe it to the next generation of NWR to ensure we continue to send in materials from the last 10 years and onwards.

For those of you (individually or as a group) who would like to see the archives for yourselves NWR members are welcome to visit by appointment - see http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/collection-highlights/the-womens-library or call LSE Library 020 7955 7229

Josephine Burt, Chair of Trustees


Celebrating 60 years of the National Women’s Register and the National Housewive’s Register – 1960-2020

 National Conference 2020 – Precious Gems - A Celebration! 11th-13th September 2020

#NWRDiamondDays #NWRdiamondconf2020 #LivelyMindedWomen

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Equality and accessibility - NWR's commitment to you.

This year NWR made a commitment to our members to improve our accessibility as an organisation, including our responsibilities under the Equalities Act and financial accessibility, and to become and remain a Carbon Neutral organisation.

One initiative, launched in April, is the NWR members’ hardship fund. This is designed to ensure that members are never forced to leave NWR due to financial issues, illness etc. It also allows potential new members to receive subsidised membership, should hardship otherwise prevent them from joining.Our first hardship fund applicant came almost immediately via Susan, an LO.

Susan explained that a longstanding member, Belinda, had become seriously unwell and, when group subs renewals came around, found herself in difficulties. Her group felt — as I would — that it would be inappropriate to approach Belinda or her husband. So, what to do? Previously Belinda’s membership would have lapsed, along with that all-important connection with other women through our organisation’s local groups, regional events and conferences, regular newsletters and magazines and, of course, our very popular national conferences.

Fortunately, LO Susan knew about our new hardship fund and approached me directly. We discussed what NWR meant to Belinda and the nature of her illness. I decided to grant a three-month membership subsidy. Three months rolled by and Susan and I spoke again. Belinda had approached the group to ask about remaining a member and, to our delight, she said “Of course I want to stay!” Happy Days!

However, this isn’t about NWR or about one NWR group losing a member: it’s about making sure that women who want or need to be connected to likeminded women may do so - regardless of financial restrictions. Sitting at home today you might not consider that the loss of one member, long-term or new, matters - but it matters to them and it matters to me.

I am delighted to be with NWR to celebrate the diamond 60th anniversary and I am excited to see what we can do to involve as many women as possible in the years to come. So, as you peruse the magazine and attend your meetings, please think “What can I do, in my group or as an individual, to make sure that the objectives of NWR — to connect, to educate and intellectually stimulate women in my community — are honoured?” We all need to be thinking back over the past (nearly) 60 years and asking “What did I need?” and “What can I do now?”

Happy 59 and a halfth anniversary, and I look forward to seeing you all next year! AMH 

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In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Sue Lowe Pic

Susan Lowe

Nantwich & Audlem group are very sad to announce the loss of a much-loved member.  Sue had been an NWR member since 1988 when she joined as a young mum living in South Cheshire with husband David and their three sons Oly, Tom and Ben.  They enjoyed a happy family life in a beautiful rural area and Sue was an active member of Nantwich & Audlem organising walks, treasure hunts and many other activities.  Once the boys had grown and fled the nest Sue and David travelled far and wide in their cosy motorhome, enjoying the wonderful experiences of many countries.  Sue was always interested in hearing about everyone else's travles too and loved to receive postcards, news and photos from around the world.

Sadly in 2014 Sue was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and during the past six years has received outstanding care, and several different lines of therapy, at The Christie Hospital in Manchester.  She lost the battle on 18th May 2020 which was a sad day for everyone who had ever known her.  NWR has lost a valued and lovely member, who attracted friends wherever she went.  She is sadly missed by so many and we at Nantwich & Audlem send out heartfelt love to David and her family.

 

Helen Mitchell 1949-2020

Park Gate NWR is sad to report the passing of long standing member Helen Mitchell, who had also been a member in Tring many years ago before moving to this area.  She was a funny, kind and lovely lady who gave so much of her time to others.  Even though disabled by many ailments her full and active life was a great inspiration.  Meetings just wont be the same without her.

Marie Catherine Moncaster

It is with great sadness that Poynton 3 NWR would like to announce the death of Marie Catherine Moncaster on 13th February 2020 aged 64.  She had only been a member of our group for a few years, moving here following the death of her husband to be near her children.  She immediately embraced Poynton life joining many activities.  Her indomitable faith helped her to cope with cancer, having an eye surgically removed and later secondaries.  Yet she always thought of others before herself and has left a huge void in people’s lives.  She won’t be forgotten.

Brenda Munday, 1928-2019

The Kilbarchan group is sad to report the death of 91-year old Brenda Munday, a long-standing member of the group.  Brenda served on the National Group for several years from 1993 and attended many conferences, the last time being at the Glasgow Conference when she met many old friends.

Catriona Daly 

Beith NWR is sad to report the death of our long standing member, Catriona Daly.

Catriona had been an Assistant Head Teacher in the local primary school, where she had taught for many years. She was a keen tennis and badminton player, giving much time to coaching children. Catriona was an enthusiastic NWR member, always keen to contribute by way of ideas, hospitality and enthusiasm and opinions. She was indeed a lively minded woman.

Anne Frith, 1940-2019

Anne, who died of cancer in July this year, had been a member of NWR and its predecessor the Housewives’ Register for more than forty years.

She was born in Shrewsbury, one of four sisters. Anne obtained a degree in History from Oxford University and a Diploma in Social Administration. After graduating she worked for the National Council of Social Services in London.

Anne married John in 1967 and they had three sons. They moved to Beccles in 1973. She had been diagnosed in early childhood with Retinitis Pigmentosa and her sight deteriorated until by the end of the Eighties she was totally blind. Despite this severe disability she was very involved in the community life of Beccles and took an active role in many organisations such as the Women’s Institute, Local History Society and Probus, where she was the programme secretary for many years.

She was the author of ten local history books, including “Daniel of Beccles”, a book of mediaeval manners. All proceeds from her books were donated to charities. She supported the Talking Newspaper for the Blind and Cancer Research and was instrumental with her husband and sons in raising money towards building Beccles Scout Hall.

For much of her life she was accompanied by a succession of five guide dogs, and they were familiar figures around the town. Lately she campaigned as a disabled person against the proposed ‘shared spaces’ traffic scheme.

Anne spoke French and German and had recently taken up re-studying Latin. She was well known and well respected in Beckles. Her full, active life and enthusiasm were a great inspiration to all. She is survived by her husband, two sons and four grandchildren.

 

Lyn Imeson

Lyn died on 27 March. She had belonged to NWR for well over 20 years and had a truly lively mind. She was the mainstay of Witney group in attending meetings, organising theatre trips, concerts, an annual carol concert at Christchurch, Oxford, and much more. She was THE best advocate for the Telephone Treasure Trail which she hosted most years as well as being a clue holder.

Self-effacing, Lyn had a brilliant mathematical mind, was interesting on many topics, much respected, had a wicked sense of humour and was very kind. New members were always made very welcome but never in a pushy way.

Lyn was very much a family person. In later years, she and her husband Eric took every opportunity to travel widely and had some terrific adventures. She died young and will be missed by more people than she could ever imagine.

Rest in Peace Lyn.

Rona Shellabear, 1930 -2019

Salisbury Group is sad to report the death of Rona, who was a founder member of NHR in the early 1960s. Rona was an enthusiastic NHR/NWR participant and attended almost every meeting and at least 33 annual conferences. She willingly took turns as LO, always came fully prepared with careful research and was not afraid to speak her mind firmly but sympathetically. As a lively minded mother of three she made the most of all the aims of the NWR.

Rona was closely involved as a hands-on member of Friends of the Earth and other environmental projects, and spent weekends at Greenham Common supporting the peace movement. Riding her bike until the age of 80, she continued to put her beliefs into practice.

Her lively mind and smiling presence will be much missed.

Evelyn Smith

Evelyn passed away on 24 January 2019.  She was a long-time and loyal member of the Dibden Purlieu Group. She will be very much missed by us all.

Beryl Thorndike

It has been said that life after death is how one lives on in the memories of those one has known. Beryl is certainly someone who will be remembered by many with affection.

She had extraordinary energy and a wide range of interests. She joined Stafford NWR in the early 70s, moving to Trentham in 1979 and Harrogate on retirement in 2002. In discussions she was an attentive listener, making pertinent contributions after careful consideration. She had strong convictions but was considerate of other peoples’ feelings.

Beryl had a great interest in languages and, after Aberystwyth University, she taught French and German in London, Stafford and finally in Stoke-on-Trent where she was head of French at St Joseph’s College, a job she loved. She cared greatly about her pupils’ well-being and success. In retirement, she was a secondary school volunteer mentor and, in her private life, she helped two children who had been through difficult times, having them to stay and introducing them to new activities and places. She found many new interests in retirement, including volunteering at the Harrogate Fair Trade shop, an important cause for her.

Like her husband Tony, Beryl loved travel, and retirement gave them the freedom to indulge this. This included some very demanding, even hair-raising drives. Some may remember Beryl’s account in the NWR magazine a few years ago of their 8,000-mile round trip to Senegal in an elderly estate car. More recently, they drove to Kyrgyzstan and took part in the Wacky Races trip through Albania’s Accursed Mountains.

Beryl also embraced Tony’s fascination with steam locomotives and their travel often involved train journeys in faraway places. In addition, they bought a flat in Picardy overlooking a level crossing and joined the local steam railway society, thus combining two pleasures — steam railways and friendships with French people.

Above all, however, Beryl loved her family. She was willing to drop everything to help her children and she was a caring and proud grandmother to her six grandchildren. She showed that same generosity to friends.

As well as being energetic and active, Beryl had a re-assuring serenity. She maintained this calm demeanour, facing illness with dignity and realism. Though we miss Beryl greatly, she will live on in our memories. It was a privilege to have known her.  

Beryl (left) on a trip to Mali. The Imam was happy that she was properly dressed for a visit to the mosque!

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Women, beget women!

Women, beget women!

NWR was established to enable women who were at home with small children to connect with other women and, from time to time, members tell me that "women don't need this any more".

I disagree.

I have at various times in my life been at home with a small child; been caring for an adult family member, working in a male-dominated environment, working alone from home; and I have moved to a new area where I knew no-one. It is these women, women like me, that we are reaching out to now!

Women can find it particularly challenging in this day and age to maintain and begin new friendships. There are hundreds of dating websites, and dating - including speed-dating - events across the country but where does a woman go who just wants to talk? Or walk? To keep her mind active? To find kindred spirits? They come - we hope - to NWR.

So, on International Women's Day, look at you group and ask - are we providing that friendly, welcoming environment that enabled us to join 10, 15 - even 30 years ago?
Here at NWR we are reaching out to women countrywide through local radio and television, local open-evening events, and by making sure that we can start to get our name known as a space where "you can do you"

Finally, if you want help attracting new members to your area just let me know! 

 

 

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Which NWR group describe themselves as "a very lively, noisy and friendly group with a good range of interests"?

Shoreham 1

We are the Shoreham (1) group based in Shoreham-by-Sea on the Sussex coast between Brighton and Worthing. Our group has 16 members currently and we are looking to recruit new members. We are a very lively, noisy and friendly group with a good range of interests.

Our meetings usually take place in the evenings and in 2018 we enjoyed the following - “Bag Lady” (5 items in a bag, guess the owner), Anti-Bucket List, My personality in a collage, What’s in the newspapers?, Talk about someone famous who shares your birthday, Pictures of members in past fashions, Unexplained happenings, Guess the year (5 clues), Talk from local charity, 4sight and Interesting Pub names. A few months ago at our ‘Time Travel’ evening we welcomed our area organisers, Jenny and Marilyn.

We’ve recently enjoyed a talk on aromatherapy, lunch at a local college prepared and served by the students, a pottery painting evening at a local garden centre and a craft evening. We also enjoyed a pre-Christmas buffet with Secret Santa presents – the budget was £5 and gifts had to be bought from a charity shop. Other than our evening meetings we have a monthly coffee morning, restaurant visits (an annual post-Christmas meal), a book group plus visits to museums and gardens, including NGS ones. We have also played croquet, an area event and have joined the Shoreham 2 NWR group for shared events

Last summer we went to Driftwood, the amazing award-winning coastal garden in Seaford, owned by Geoff Stonebanks. After a talk where we learned it takes Geoff seven hours over two days to water his plants, we visited each corner of the garden before sitting down to tea and cake made by him. “A perfect summer’s day in a beautiful garden” and “an inspirational garden” to quote two of our members.

Lorraine Nightingale and Cathy Ford, Shoreham 1 NWR group.

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Hello from Hatfield!

We are the Hatfield group from Hertfordshire.

The question of when we started caused some debate among the original members we still have. The consensus was we split away from another groups in about 1970. We currently have 19 members.

We try to meet weekly and in the past 6 months our activities have included research on Paddington Bear, mistresses, Romania and things beginning with A. We have shared poetry on the sea and readings on gardens. We have discussed idioms without ignoring the elephant in the room. Speakers have talked on Human Rights and Stonehenge. We have discussed a variety of books, some more popular than others. Outings have included a walk round Surrey Docks, lunch at a local pub (with discussion topic) and a visit to look at church graffiti.

We look forward in the next 6 months to a programme with quizzes, talks, book, plays and poetry on winter, as well as discussions, including something beginning with B. We clearly have a topic that will last some time! Do contavt us to find out more about our group if you would like to join us!

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Dorking NWR on parade!

Dorking NWR Visit to Sandhurst

On a beautifully sunny day in September, 9 ladies from Dorking NWR had a guided tour of the Old College at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. We were met at the entrance gate by one of our two Guides who were both members of the Sandhurst Trust which organises the tours, and were both retired officers who had passed through Sandhurst.

Our tour lasted about 3 hours, despite interruptions for a US General and about 50 British soldiers who were also visiting like us. After coffee we were given a brief history of the magnificent old college building which was designed by James Wyatt and was opened in 1812 as the Junior Department of the Royal Military College. The force behind the College was General Le Marchant, who decided that Britain needed properly trained officers if it was to be successful in battle. The present Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was founded in 1947 when the existing College, merged with the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and since then subsequent buildings have been added. The Academy's stated aim is to be the national centre of excellence for leadership and all British Army officers, as well as men and women from overseas, are trained at The Academy. 

We had a tour of various prestige rooms including the Indian Army Memorial Room with splendid stained glass windows, and rooms with remarkable military memorabilia. As we were admiring an impressive modern painting of the Queen in the Grand Entrance, a somewhat dignified but very pleasant military gentleman stopped and talked to us and only afterwards did we discover that he was the Commander of Sandhurst. We also visited the newly refurbished Catholic Chapel and the awe inspiring Royal Memorial Chapel, made even more poignant by the several transparent Perspex soldiers sitting in the pews as part of the WW1 Remembrance Day Soldier Silhouettes. The plaques on the walls reminded us of the sacrifice made of thousands of lives, so it was humbling to see some of the new recruits going through their rigorous officers’ training in the beautiful grounds.

 Our only disappointment was that after our tour we had lunch in the canteen like a regular squaddie and not in the Officers’ mess! ...but we had a very interesting visit.

Sue Jamieson, NWR Dorking Group member

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Poetry, Plays and Petanque in Poole...

Poole has two thriving NWR groups, here Cynthia Wood tells us a little more...

"We have two groups based in Poole, Dorset, one meeting on a Tuesday and one on a Wednesday. Originally we were all one group but we had to split about 5 or 6 years ago owing to the group becoming too large to fit into anyone's living room. We now have a total between the two groups of 17 members. The original group started in the 1960's and we still have one or two members who joined in the very early years.

In the last twelve months we have included in our programmes such topics as a poetry evening where one of our members composed a lovely poem about her dog, a play reading using the brilliant play written by a Congleton member, a discussion about the New Year's Honours list, Harvest Fayre tasting using local produce and a discussion about computer Apps.

We have also had a couple of speakers this year - a lady who had been the Queen's dresser, and a man who has been a coach driver for 40 years who has a fund of amusing stories!

The two groups also meet regularly for lunches and coffee mornings and we have about 4 events a year to which partners are invited.  These have included a games evening, a petanque session, and a walk in the New Forest. All the social events of course include food!!

Poole

We also take part in NWR national events such as the Telephone Treasure Trail, the national country theme (this year Romania), and the theme of Dangerous Knowledge. Some of our members will be attending the Area Meeting organised by the Salisbury group."

We are always on the lookout for new members who can be assured of a warm welcome."

Cynthia Wood from Poole Wednesday group

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NWR proving popular in Chester!

Introducing the Chester Grosvenor NWR group...

Chester Grosvenor Group photo 2018

Chester Grosvenor NWR group was formed after the original Chester South group grew too popular and accommodating members in our homes - even using the stairs to sit on - became a problem. Chester South was subsequently split into two groups, Eaton and Grosvenor in, we think, 1979.

We meet every fortnight, in the evening, and have recently started a programme of daytime outings. Our evening meetings cover topics as varied as universal suffrage - the right to vote for all adults; Room 101: What would you banish into Room 101 – what object, or person, really annoys you; Naughty but Nice, Underwear from 1840 to the present day; ‘The colour purple’, wear purple and bring interesting things or facts along; Art critic night: Choose a painting and research/review it for the meeting. One of our favourite evenings is to choose a letter from the alphabet, for example the letter A, and then we each select something beginning with this letter to talk about - the range of topics is astonishing! Theatre visits are also an annual treat.

Our daytime outings include walks, museums, art exhibitions, National Trust properties and anything else that has caught our interest.

These are some of our members' experiences of NWR:

"I joined NWR 25 years ago when my youngest child started school as I wanted some 'me’ time after all those early years at home. I had been urged to join by a friend and although I already knew a few people locally, I have met so many more on joining and since. I find it a good way to keep in touch and see people without having to arrange too much! And I have learned a lot (e.g. the saxophone was invented in Belgium, where incest is still legal ...). Most of our meetings are within walking distance so a relaxing evening with friends and a glass (or two) of wine is very possible." Penny White.

"I first joined in Culcheth after I had my first baby in 1972, to meet other people and talk about topics other than small children. Not that I said much then, but NWR did give me confidence gradually to join in!" Chris Westcott.

"We arrived in Chester in 1979 with a 20 month old toddler and two week old baby. Apart from my husband I knew nobody but we hadn't been in the house for long before a knock on the door resulted in the introduction to NWR. I am eternally grateful to Christine for making contact - we remain close friends and NWR has played a big part, both directly and indirectly, in establishing Chester as our home." Mary Pole.

"I’ve really enjoyed being a member of Chester Grosvenor NWR. As a relatively new member, having only moved to the area three years ago, I was fortunate to be introduced via a friend of a friend and immediately found myself part of a group of lively women. I have made new friends and feel that membership has eased me into feeling part of the local community. I have found the range of activities and discussions stimulating and fun. I like the way the group is always thinking of new things to do, explore and talk about." Julie Savory.

Some of our members have been in NWR for over 40 years and we are pleased to say that we continue to welcome new members to the group. Do get in touch if you would like to find out more.

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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

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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'...

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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!

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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...

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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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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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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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