Last month Kate and I attended the Federation Annual Meeting. It was my second meeting and I was again overwhelmed by how many members of the WI filled St Andrews Hall. Women from across the county came to hear three amazing female speakers including Jane Whitbread from Schoolreaders, Sarah Cross from the Jon Egging Trust and Felicity Aston MBE an Antarctic scientist and polar explorer.
As a writer and avid reader I was particularly interested in Schoolreaders, a national organisation that arranges for volunteers to go into local schools to hear children read. It’s so important for children to get support and encouragement as they are learning to read. Many don’t have an adult who is able to take the time to sit with them, so Schoolreaders provides an invaluable service. I was shocked that one in ten households in Britain don’t own a single book. I can’t imagine my life without books. Some of my favourite memories are being read to as a child or escaping to my room to get lost in a Nancy Drew or Famous Five novel.
The WI supports Schoolreaders and they are keen to get more volunteers. It’s very accessible, the organisation matches you with a local school and you let them know the day and time that’s best for you. You only need to volunteer for an hour or two a week and they understand if you need time off to go away on holiday. It’s something I would love to get involved with and I heard a number of women expressing an interest. You can find more details on the Schoolreaders website.
In the afternoon we were surprised to discover that the Swallowtail WI had won an Adviser’s Accolade in the New Institute Category. It is a huge honour and one that I and the other Swallowtails are very proud of. We were commended for our enjoyable monthly meetings, interesting programme, community involvement and friendly members. These are all qualities we aim for within our WI and it is wonderful to be recognised by the advisers.
EDP WI Week for 1st April 2017 - Claire Wade
If there’s one thing the members of the Swallowtail WI love as much as cake, it’s cheese! So, imagine how excited we were to welcome the fabulous team from Norton’s Dairy as our speakers at April’s meeting.
The talk that night was given by Teresa Norton, whose family have run Norton’s Dairy since 1946. She gave us a wonderful insight into how the business works and told us all about the star members of the team – their herd of 55 Brown Swiss dairy cows. This isn’t just a way to put food on the table for the Norton family, it’s a true passion – and Teresa joked that her dad considers the cows to be his children too.
It was fascinating to hear how Norton’s Dairy products are made, and heartening to know that the milk, cheese and cream farmed come from blissfully happy cows. Teresa explained about their high-tech milking process allows the cows to wander in and be milked when they fancy it, before wandering off to hang out in lush green fields and laze about. It sounds like quite a life! She also explained how hard the dairy farm works to be sustainable, and what the impact of low milk prices have on a small business like theirs.
After Teresa’s excellent talk, it was time to eat cheese. Accompanied by her boyfriend Will, Teresa had arrived armed with four types of delicious soft cheese for us to taste: the Nortons soft cheese, soft cheese with lavender, soft cheese with apricots and soft cheese with chilli. We also had the opportunity to take their incredible yoghurt, and buy some gorgeous double cream. It didn’t take long for us to get stuck on, and we were delighted that we’d invited our WI advisor Margaret Collingwood along to such a tasty meeting.
The evening was extra special for us as we were able to announce that the Swallowtail WI had been presented with a special award at the recent Norfolk Federation Annual Meeting. We were crowned Best New WI by the Federation, and our president Claire got up on stage to collect our certificate. The news was greeted with delight by our members, which is brilliant as they are what make the Swallowtail WI so special.
Cheese and prizes? What more could you want from a WI night out?
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