We are continuing to hold our monthly meetings on Zoom. Being virtual has not dampened our lively discussions and we are now planning a packed programme for 2021
One of our members, Carrie de Silva from the Nantwich and Audlem group in Cheshire, launched a project at The Women's Library to highlight streets named after women (and how few there are), and to produce short biographies of some of the women named.
If you would be interested in getting involved then please contact Carrie for more details. She'd love to collate local knowledge from across the UK. For more information please click on this link
Poem by Elizabeth Bracken
those chill church halls of two bar fires
and icy toilets with high level flush,
their kitchens full of prohibitions
and cupboards packed with Beryl Ware,
countless cups and saucers in sea green.
who misses tea urns - ancient, modern, gushing out like spouting whales,
or hessian bags of bargain coffee jars?
Dark are the stage lights for the pantomime,
cheap glitterballs and temperamental strip light.
Faded the smell of celebration buffets -
chipolatas, mini quiches, spicy chicken wings.
Silent the dusty out of tune piano, the keep fit beat,
a birthday DJs patter, meditation tapes,
loud clapping from the slimming club
and women's voices over washing up
2020 Vision is the theme for our 60th Anniversary Year
We'll be looking at where we have come from and where we are going, and celebrating along the way with a full programme of events.
Our country for 2020 is Finland. Independent since 1918, it is the most sparsely populated country in the EU. Other random facts, the country has the largest number of official lakes, almost half of its MPs are women and Finns are the world's biggest coffee drinkers. It is also home to Father Christmas, the Moomins, and Angry Birds.
Our national conference 2020 will have the theme Precious Gems, to celebrate our Diamond Anniversary. It will take place between the 11th to the 13th of September at MacDonald Burlington Hotel, New Street, Birmingham.
We will have fantastic speakers, exciting workshops, a Friday Night Quiz, a Saturday Night Conference Dinner and lots of brilliant Wrap Around Activities.
Booking Will Go live in January 2020. Watch out for more details.
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 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!
On Wednesday evening our Bury St Edmunds group invited members from Diss, along with some of our friends and family, to listen to a talk given by local sculptor HARRIET MEAD. Harriet is a hugely talented, internationally respected wildlife artist from Norfolk who works with 'found objects' made of metal - tools, kitchen utensils, bits of agricultural machinery etc - and creates the most wonderful sculptures of birds, mammals, fish and insects. Using items like rotor blades, spanners, pliers, spades, egg-whisks, scissors, nuts and bolts, she can recreate almost anything from a life-sized horse, through hares, curlew and pike, to a dragonfly on a reed!
She fascinated us with explanations of where her inspiration comes from, described the way she welds the metal together to make a creature, showed us photographs of some of the many things she has made, and told of projects she has been involved with – including the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) of which she is currently President. We agreed with her that it’s ridiculous that some people are still astounded when they find a woman donning protective gear and flourishing welding equipment!
Working mostly to commission, she is hugely in demand and certainly not wanting for work. You may have seen her on ‘Countryfile’, and she is often asked to feature in programmes for ‘discovery’ channels.
Newcomer Marian Stokes started her recruitment drive for the National Housewives Register by knocking on doors round the village in the Cambridgeshire fens she'd moved to from Greater Manchester. It was 1976.
Today Marian remains a keen and active member of the Wisbech NWR group she founded back then – and of both its offshoot book discussion groups. (The image shows founder member Marian Stokes and Marie O'Flaherty in glad rags at our 90th birthday party for the Queen.)
She said: 'I'd belonged to the then-NHR in Saddleworth, and was keen to promote the advantages of being a member. I can't believe how much energy and enthusiasm I had.'
Rosy Elliott (who celebrated her retirement three years ago with an NWR group visit to the town's historic Elgoods Brewery) said: 'I'd just had my first baby in 1976 and was struggling with being homebound when this stranger - Marian - knocked at the door.
'NHR was an intellectually stimulating lifesaver where I met wonderful friends. When I rejoined not long before I retired, some familiar faces were still around but I've also met many lovely new ones. I hope it carries on for another 42 years!'
In the past few years the Wisbech group has had a go at rolling and eating sushi, painting Chinese style, potato-printing and making cheese; watched Victoria Wood as diarist Nella Last after taking part in an NWR appeal for May 12 journal entries on Mass Observation's 80th anniversary; had talks from a ballet costumier, metal detectorists' club, local family history expert, cat behaviourist; made dishes for any number of pot-luck meals served indoors and out, and had passionate discussions – yet miraculously avoided ever falling out with each other.
Comparatively new member, Jill Clayton, still wonders at this. She said: 'My main memory on joining was of being made so welcome.This was so different from organisations where you were scrutinised to see if your face fit, if you wore the right clothes or went to the right places on holiday. Some members have been in the group from the beginning. We must be doing something right!'
NWR has a habit of setting thoughts and ideas in motion...
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.
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...
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
Plympton Group's Romany themed Summer party - we are holding up the beaded wind chimes we made as part of the evening.
UK households bin more than 27 million tons of rubbish each year and we are running out of space in our landfill sites. Since spring 2018, waste from homes in North Yorkshire and the city of York is not dumped, untreated, in a hole in the ground but is processed at a brand new waste recovery centre.
Many local residents, including some members of Harrogate NWR, were concerned at the thought of an industrial waste processing plant near their homes. Contractors Amey, no doubt conscious of the need to win over local sceptics, have built a visitor centre on site and welcome adult groups and school parties. We decided to visit Allerton Waste Recovery Centre and see it for ourselves.
The top half of the shiny new building is easily visible, sitting amongst the fields beside the A1 road, but as it is built inside a disused quarry much of the site is hidden. The grounds have been landscaped and the, now obsolete, landfill site that was already there has been grassed over. First impressions on arrival were that the plant was surprisingly quiet and it didn’t smell. We learnt later that the building is kept under negative pressure to stop any odours escaping.
Debbie, our guide greeted us at the visitor centre and after coffee we took our seats for her presentation, explaining the workings of plant. The facility is not a recycling centre, it handles what’s left after householders have removed the recyclables. Bin lorries from the local area empty their load directly into the plant, waste from the more distant parts of the county is brought to site in large, sealed, containers. The waste is then sorted, the first material to be removed is food waste and other organic material. This is fed into an anaerobic digester where a colony of micro-organisms feed on the waste, excreting methane gas which is used to generate electricity for use on site.
Although householders should have removed recyclable materials before putting their waste in the bin, some gets through. A combination of magnets, eddy currents, light beams and jets of air are used to recover the recyclables. Then, just to make sure that nothing useful is left in the waste there is a final check by human operators. In case we had concluded that we could forget about recycling and go back to chucking all our waste in together, Debbie emphasised that the metals, glass and paper recovered this way are dirty, broken up and less useful and valuable than the nice clean material from our recycling bins.
Once all the useful materials have been recovered from the waste, the rest is burnt at extremely high temperatures, in the “energy from waste” plant, generating enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.
After Debbie’s presentation it was time to visit the plant itself. We had been instructed to wear long trousers and sensible shoes to which we now added bright yellow hi vis waistcoats.
When we got inside the processing plant it was a little smelly, but less so than a bin lorry on a hot day. It was also very quiet as the sorting equipment was not in operation; a householder had chucked something into their bin which had jammed up one of the trommel drums which are used to screen the waste at the beginning of the processing. None the less the equipment was still impressive to see.
We invited friends and partners to join our visit which proved so popular that a second visit is planned for those who couldn’t attend the first time. There are several similar sites around the country, maybe your group would enjoy a visit to your local one.
Have you responded to the member's survey yet?
Please do send in your responses before the 29th March when the survey will close, we have already had some great feedback via the survey.
Member feedback is important to us so that we can understand your needs and what you value most about belonging to NWR. It will also help with planning for the next 3 years - including planning for our 60th anniversary in 2020!
Many of the questions are the same as the ones we asked in 2016, this is so that we can compare the data to see how we are doing. A summary report will be available to all members later in the year. Thanks for your help on this!
If you still haven't taken part please use this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SC3TSR8
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first March 8 IWD gathering supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Prior to this the Socialist Party of America, United Kingdom's Suffragists and Suffragettes, and further groups campaigned for women equality. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific. Make IWD your day - everyday!
All NWR members should have received an email about about the NWR 'Eggheads' Team. We are hoping to apply for the next round of filming to see if NWR are smart enough to beat the Eggheads (I know we are!) but we need to get a team together before the 5th December; less than a week away!
Please contact Sara Jane, our website and publicity coordinator ASAP if you would like to take part... and if you are not a whizz at quizzing then make sure you encourage anyone else in your group you think fits the bill.
You won't find our events entered into the system but our termly programmes are available as downloads if Phillis has remembered to upload them.
This year’s Mary Stott Award went to Ann Clegg, member of Sheffield/Fulwood NWR, for walking the complete South West Coast Path on her own and despite recovering from knee surgery.