LIFE GOES ON IN LOCKDOWN

"Oh the times they are a-changing" as Bob Dylan sung and at NWR we are also trying to adapt to the new challenging conditions.  Many groups are getting far more technically savvy than they ever imagined possible, holding ZOOM groups with aplomb and forming WhatsApp groups. Here at the NWR office we are also working hard to keep people connected and entertained . 

  • We have managed to procure free access for all our members to the Digital Theatre Plus online platform.  Here you can access thousands of wonderful plays and stage productions. 
  • We have also increased the number of newsletters with much useful information at this time, and including many quizzes provided by our wonderful members
  • We are offering online events and quizzes which are getting wonderful feedback
  • We are putting together a book of your poetry inspired by this unique time

So although we are all social distancing and meeting physically isn't yet possible, in some ways it feels as if we have never been closer.

Keep alert (as the government is saying now) and unleash your creativity!

 

 

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Robina Fisher
Hi, great to see the use of technology from links in the Newsletter and how individual groups are finding ways to stay in touch.... Read More
Tuesday, 12 May 2020 11:41
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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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South West Salisbury Visit

Ten NWR friends recently visited Salisbury and enjoyed an informative walk around the fantastic Cathedral Close on Monday morning. The tour was lead by member Liz who told us many interesting facts about many of the houses.... the history, famous visitors and residents and the ghosts!

The sun was shining for (at least part of) the day and we enjoyed a jolly lunch in the Cathedral Refectory.

What a wonderful day! Please let us know what other events NWR members are enjoying around the country!

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Diamonds Are Forever! Capturing NWR's Photographic Gems!

Diamonds Are Forever! Capturing NWR's Photographic Gems!

Get Your Cameras Out For Our NWR Competition!

NWR are pleased to announce the launch of our Photographic competition – with twelve winning images being immortalised in a commemorative calendar to be released in celebration of our diamond anniversary in 2020.

So, what do you need to do?

First of all dust off your camera, refresh your skills while you're out and about, and get your creative juices flowing!

There are four categories:

  • "I get by with a little help from my friends"
  • "The more things change, the more they stay the same
  • Women of the world; and
  • A visual interpretation of a poem/song

We can accept pictures taken on any device but all images must be available, and submitted, in colour. If you wish to use film you may but the image should be initially submitted in a high-specification digital format. All images must be scaleable to A3. You may submit multiple entries to each category. Images will be judged by a panel of professional photographer, NWR’s Membership and Communications Coordinator and the NWR magazine editor.

Photographs will be judged on composition, focus, clarity, colour depth, overall image quality, creativity and relevance to the brief/topic.

How to create a winning image?

Think about the brief. Be smart and use your imagination. De-clutter the image and focus on what your picture is about then fill the frame with it. Practice, Practice, Practice! Start taking your camera wherever you go and take photos every day – no matter how good a photographer you are we all get a little rusty.

Be original. Equipment, even on a phone, is incredible these days – the one thing you can always use to stand out is your own creativity. Put something of yourself in the image. Two photographers can shoot the same subject in the exact same conditions and produce totally different images.

How? By inserting your interpretation and your perspective. Shoot what you love. Use The Golden Triangle or rule of thirds – nature is based upon these magical mathematical rules and they will elevate your work too. Don’t centre your subject (usually). Use space.

Simplify and exaggerate – you may wish to use contrasting colours, juxtaposition with other objects, even shutter speed to give a well-defined image/scene. Create depth and use leading lines to draw the viewer in and create a journey through the image.

Lighting is everything! Never shoot into the sun/ in the middle of the day unless you REALLY know what you’re doing. Understand the “temperature” of the light. Use the golden hours at sunrise and sunset – the light is beautiful. Edit yourself ruthlessly!

Closing date 31/07/20. Terms and conditions apply. Full competition rules will eventually be available on the website.

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Marie Morrison
Camera out and ready to go !
Friday, 21 June 2019 20:00
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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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Horbury and Ossett's Great British Bake Off!

Horbury and Ossett's Great British Bake Off!

Horbury and Ossett NWR recently welcomed 2018 Great British Bake-Off Contestant Karen Wright to a special meeting.

We were delighted to welcome Karen Wright, contestant in this year’s Great British Bake-Off to our recent meeting. Karen grew up not far away in Featherstone, West Yorkshire. Her entertaining talk came about thanks to a family connection and with the series aired and winner announced she was now able to speak freely.

Karen describes herself as a self-taught baker and stalker of French patisserie window displays. From the thousands who applied Karen really didn’t expect to get selected for the final twelve. She gave us an insight into the application process. The first stage was a lengthy form with questions about baking experience, including everything from hot water crust pastry to bread. She set about teaching herself to do those things she couldn’t do. After sending in the application a researcher rang for a lengthy chat, including technical questions about baking. This lead to a regional selection day. For this Karen had to make two things in advance. It was for this she realised that you needed to go in with confidence regardless of nerves underneath. After all they were looking for a mix of people who could bake and appear on television. A few days later she heard she had been chosen for a further selection day in London. It was on the train to London that she first recognised Kim Joy from the earlier regional selection. In the end Yorkshire was well represented in the programme.

 

Once selected contestants received lots of information on what would be required at each stage of filming. This gave them time to practice ideas. Filming took place on two long intensive days over weekends during the summer. All the contestants were excited to meet up and finally get into the tent for the first time. The tent is actually full of film crews following each contestant. Two days filming is all edited down to an hour’s programme.

 

What was perhaps most inspiring was how Karen had seen it as a personal challenge, showing her that she could achieve much more than she imagined. She brought along her designs and photos of her cakes showing us her innate creativity. Karen is not sure where it will all lead, but she is already in demand for talks and demonstrations locally and has set up her own website. She will be appearing next year at the well-known Wakefield Rhubarb Festival in February. She is more than anything keen to inspire others young and old to try something new. Maybe we all need to follow her lead and pick a personal challenge for 2019 and reach outside our comfort zone!

 

We had decided in advance that those who wanted would be asked to make three scones to a recipe of our choosing. Our competition for the evening was not against the clock, but there was still a bit of pressure to come up with presentable scones for the evening. We had a good selection of both savoury and sweet ones and it showed how creative you can be, even with the humble scone. Karen was happy to judge our efforts.

Our member Thérése Manship was the winner. Here’s her winning recipe:

Christmas Scones

 

·         2 medium eggs

·         1 tsp vanilla extract

·         500g (18oz) plain flour

·         25g (1oz) baking power  

·         75g (3oz) golden caster sugar

·         finely grated zest of 1 orange

·         finely grated zest of 1 lemon

·         125g (4 ½ oz) unsalted butter chilled and diced

·         200g mixed fruit

·         Buttermilk, see recipe.

1. Whisk the eggs with the vanilla in a small bowl. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor and add the sugar and zest. Add the butter and whiz to crumbs, then add the egg mixture and just enough buttermilk to bring the mixture together. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the dried fruit. You can always add a little more buttermilk if the mixture appears dry and crumbly, but take care not to overdo it otherwise the scones will spread. 

2. Roll the dough out 2cm (¾ in) thick on a lightly floured worksurface and cut out scones using a 6.5 cm (2 ¾ in) cutter. Space well apart on one or two non-stick baking sheets and leave to rest for 20 minutes. 


3. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6, then brush the top of the scones with milk and bake for 17-22 minutes until golden (the lower tray may take a little longer than the top). 

The runner-up Angela Beardshall made cheese, pumpkin and poppy seeds scones with a rhubarb and ginger chutney.

We'd like to thank Karen for a most entertaining night!

You can find out more about Karen and future events, or contact her via her website:
www.karenwrightbakes.co.uk

You can also follow her on Instagram or Twitter @karenwrightbake

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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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Middlesborough’s “In The Pink” Local Conference - October 2018

"Live, Love, Laugh - inspirational wellness in the pink"!

3 great speakers, 7 groups, a big pot of tea, and oodles of freshly baked cakes – conference here we come!

With lots of homemade cake as usual and representatives from 7 different groups, from Morpeth, Northumberland down to Horbury and Ossett, West Yorkshire the Middlesborough Day Conference sounds like it was a roaring success!

Thank you, Andrea and the rest of the Middlesbrough organisers, for the great work you did as volunteers.

And thank you to our delegates for making the day a success. This conference is an amazing example of the NWR ethos - you get out tenfold what you put in!  

 

“In the Pink” – Building a conference!

By Andréa Bowness-Etur – Local Organiser, Middlesborough

Where to start? Let’s start at the end - “In the Pink” was a wonderful day – with great speakers, thoroughly enjoyed by all the delegates (many of whom were dressed in pink!) who all left with great smiles on their faces! (You’ll find out why in a moment!)

Middlesbrough was a very small and new group when we held our first conference back in 2015. It was hard work and a huge learning curve, but it was also a roaring success. I was committed to doing another day conference as soon as we could! Fast forward to 2017…

I think we have all been affected by cancer in some way. Middlesborough NWR is no different and in one meeting in 2017 we discovered we had a member who had been diagnosed herself and another caring for a loved one with this awful disease. We felt it was time to start planning, and that a health and well-being theme was the way forward.

So, we thought, let’s hold it in October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We decided to include as many different aspects of health and wellbeing as possible, from physical to mental, in order to capture the interest of members and friends alike. I posted a request for speakers to The Inspire Network - a network for self-employed women in the North East. (Oh, the powers of social media!).

We are lucky to have an excellent comfortable venue which is easy to get to so everyone felt relaxed! – talk about “Location, Location, Location!”. We were positively inundated with ideas and eventually our group decided on three great, inspiring speakers each with a different take on health and wellbeing - from stress management, clean-eating, gut-health and nutrition - even laughter yoga!

So the day rolled round and 30 delegates from groups as far afield as Morpeth in the North, to Harrogate in the South arrived – much to our delight!

Before we introduced our speakers we held a fun quiz and raffle, with two top prizes provided by our speakers, raising all-important extra funds for future meetings, and our next conference!

And so to the main event – our amazing speakers - Liz Cairns, a holistic practitioner and self-management consultant; Claire Robinson, a clean-eating expert (whose mother is going through cancer treatment), and a Self-Discovery Coach for Women who told us all about self-care and self-esteem.

First up was Liz Cairns of Inspire Holistics who spoke about stress management and holistic health. She spoke about the stigma surrounding mental health issues and the importance of self-care and told us never to think you are being selfish by taking care of yourself. You can't care for others properly unless you are fit and well yourself....

Claire Robinson spoke about gut health, amongst several other interesting and important points surrounding nutrition and toxic ingredients and products. (I’m not sure she’d have approved of our trestle table heaving with sugary cakes and treats!)

We finished the day with “Laughing Yoga” – led by the wonderful Jan Turner! It really ended the day on a natural high - our theme was, after all, "Live, Love, Laugh - inspirational wellness in the pink"!

Our speakers were all so different but very educational and their message was clear - look after yourself, you only have one body and prevention is better than cure.

Would you believe that we did not suffer any hiccups this time around! It's always a bit worrying running up to an event - have we chosen the right speakers? Will they do a good job? Will they show up? LOL. It's impossible to please all of the people, all of the time but we had a good go at it and received a lot of messages of thanks after the event. it's very satisfying to know you have brought happiness and a fun filled day out to so many - and a nice big glass of wine was a wonderful treat in the evening! It's a good feeling to have done something so positive! I look forward to the next conference!

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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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And the award goes to...

NWR has a habit of setting thoughts and ideas in motion...

Trentham

In June 2014 the Trentham group looked at the significance and value of war memorials, including their local one.

Marilyn Vigurs, from the Trentham Group tells us more:

"We thought it would be interesting to research the seventeen names listed on the memorial from the First World War. Eventually we tracked down information for all but one of the men, but we could NOT stop there. Ten of us formed ourselves into the Trentham World War One Project group and set about finding out more about who lived in this community 100 years ago and how they coped with the dark days of the war.

Over the past three years, we have used our subsequent researches to make four films, engage with local schools, organise two Heritage Open Days, run community events, mount exhibitions and lead heritage walks. We also undertook all our own fundraising. It seems as though our efforts have NOT gone unnoticed. In September 2018, we won the community group of the year in the Our Heroes awards run by our local newspaper.

That NWR meeting back in 2014 took us on quite a journey. We would NOT have missed the experience, but we will NOT be doing anything similar anytime soon!"

The photo shows five members of the project group receiving the award.

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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…

NWK 7081

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'...

Dittons 1

 

Our NWR group is based in that part of Surrey which borders South West London. Our members don’t just live in Esher, but in its surrounding towns and villages, including Thames Ditton and Long Ditton (hence ‘the Dittons’ in our name.) We serve Cobham and Oxshott too. I am the current local organiser but I only joined the group 6 years ago so I have had to refer to some of our founder members to obtain details of our group in the early days. Evidently the group was set up in 1979 at a time when many of our current members were at home with small children and wanted some intellectual stimulus besides trips to the park and nappy changing! Group numbers have varied over time from 10 to 30 members and at the moment we are at the lower end of that scale, but we are actively recruiting new members.

 

A walk in the woods of Esher Common followed by a summer lunch party at a member’s house was enjoyed by members in August this year and a visit to the Houses of Parliament and lunch on the South Bank was a great day out.

 

Our meetings this year have included a wide range of discussions on many topics invoking much lively debate. Social activities have included a ‘Mulled Wine and Mince Pies Evening’ at Christmas, a Summer Lunch, and a New Year Party. We particularly enjoyed entering a team for the Quiz Evening organised by the Dorking NWR group. A firm favourite which is well attended every year is the NWR Telephone Quiz organised nationally. Musical evenings with Spotify (choosing our favourite songs from our teenage years) have been much enjoyed and we have arranged an outside speaker on ‘Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking’.

 

Two recent quotes from members as to why they joined the NWR sums up what many of us feel and why we joined in the first place:

“Since I retired I have appreciated being able to get out and meet new people”

“I just love having a lively discussion followed by tea and biscuits, then a good old chat”

 

Group numbers have varied over time from 10 to 30 members and at the moment we are at the lower end of that scale, but we are actively recruiting new members so please do get in touch with via the NWR office or website. We look forward to welcoming you!

 

Catherine Davies, Local Organiser, Esher & the Dittons NWR

Dittons 2

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