Part of what’s wonderful about the WI is the chance to be introduced to new experiences and ideas. So we were delighted to welcome lecturer and author Mick Collins to discuss human potential with us. Mick led a fascinating debate on what we consider human potential to be, the consequences for our culture and the future of the world in the face of innovation and change. There was a whole range of ideas and viewpoints in the room, but what shone through was that all of us want to make a positive contribution to the future of the planet, and it focussed our thoughts on how best to do that.
It wasn’t the most dramatic or headline-grabbing election of that week (that title belongs to the US presidential race), but the Swallowtail WI voted for their own leaders too. Each annual general meeting gives our group the opportunity to vote on who runs the committee, and who holds the title of president. Happily, a year in charge hadn’t scared President Claire Wade from standing again, and she was unanimously voted back into her role, as were the rest of the Swallowtail Committee.
With the AGM being a chance for reflection about the past year, and a look at the future of our WI, it was quite an emotional evening. Inspiring and heart-warming speeches by Claire and our secretary Szara left many girls in the room deeply moved as we looked back on what an incredible first year our WI has enjoyed.
In just 12 months, we’ve had some fascinating speakers, excellent craft nights and enjoyed plenty of yummy homemade cake. We’ve set up dog walking, film and book clubs, enjoyed nights out together and most importantly, made some lovely new friends. We can’t wait to see what happens in 2017, and having our committee remain in their roles means that we can evolve even further over the next 12 months. Excitingly, we’ve also got a new committee member in our midst as lovely Fran signed up to take on official duties too. Human potential might feel like a big existential subject, but in our small way, we like to the think the Swallowtail WI is pushing its boundaries.
As secretary, I was asked to prepare a speech for our AGM. Firstly this filled me with fear, but as I looked back on what we have done in the year, it filled me with pride.
Our meetings have consisted of initial thoughts from the members on our first night, becoming reality at a low cost, due to our initial balance being zero.
Our first speaker was Stacey Armes who gave us a wonderful insight into the history of the WI and why we are here today and for the next 100 years.
In December our President Claire demonstrated to us all the art of making a seasonal wreath. Many of us then created our own and surprised ourselves with how beautiful they looked at the end of the evening.
In January we had our own Margaret Johnson sharing her experiences of being an author and how she researches material by challenging herself to experiences such as stand-up comedy.
In February we had our treasurer’s dad, a retired GP, come and help us with how to help ourselves before visiting the GP. Honey is the number 1 answer and he has donated some of his to our raffles during the year.
In March we all crafted name badges and got to know each other more. This has been an important part of this year, helping us to grow stronger.
Who can forget April? H V Graves the butcher! We had a wonderful talk and demonstration. His jokes were as sharp as his knifes!
In May we got down to true WI business. We discussed and voted on the resolutions, then started to create entries into the Royal Norfolk Show WI competition.
In June, Vicki our treasurer, designed a frugal tip night. Again a way of us getting to know each other whilst sharing knowledge. One of our members, Kate, typed them all into a document, and Roisin created a booklet for all of the tips. A great joint project.
In July, we had the lovely Val Thomas, teaching us about our hedgerows and gardens and how we can frugally heal ourselves and cook with herbs.
August we had a typical Norfolk summer event. Picnic inside and games on the lawn in the rain. But we did not let it stop us smiling and laughing.
September came around very quickly, we were one years old. Bubbles, singing, cake and a talk on our local history by Caroline Jarrold made the evening a success.
In October, we came back to crafting. Committee members shared skills and crafts, again frugally and in a very social way. The room was buzzing with atmosphere.
But that is just the meeting nights, there has been more ……
During our first year as a WI we have;
AND I believe overall we turned from caterpillars into beautiful strong butterflies.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the Swallowtail WI. Starting with the committee.
Roisin is our Vice President and my right hand woman. She's the first smiling face you see when you arrive and she's my own personal talking clock - she keeps me running to time during the meetings and committee nights and makes sure we all get home at a decent time. She's in charge of most of our technology and did a brilliant job on the website. She also runs the most active of our clubs, the dog walking group.
If Roisin is my right hand, then Szara is my left. She's our secretary and she keeps on top of the paperwork and trust me when I say that's an awful lot. She writes the record of every meeting and keeps us up to date with what’s going on in the WI. She's our raffle queen and quiz mistress, and helps to keep us financially afloat. Our committee meetings are an event in themselves and I doubt there are any other committees who have quite as much fun or laugh as much as we do. A lot of that is down to Szara.
Vicki has the most challenging job of all the committee, she's our treasurer and we're completely indebted to her, and she's the reason we aren't in debt. I have to admit we press ganged her into the role before she knew what it involved and she's been on a hugely steep learning curve but she's cracked it and we have the accounts to prove it. She's our chief negotiator, with everything from reduced venue rent, discount chips to compensation from Barclays, she's saved us a lot of money this year. Vicki is also the talent behind our crochet butterfly badges and they're the way to spot a committee member.
Jody is our assistant treasurer and she has helped Vicki sort out the accounts and battle with the WI spreadsheets. Jody is the one who emails you to make sure we have snacks and drinks at every meeting and without her it would be water and stale biscuits. Jody is also our go to woman for cross stitch squares for the tablecloth whenever someone falls through.
Kate is in charge of contacting the speakers and making sure they turn up and have everything they need when they do. She's one of the warmest and friendliest people I know and she greets visitors and helps them settle in. Kate also organises our fantastic film club and is head of committee socials. It's definitely not all work and no play on the committee and we've all become really close friends over the past year.
Kim is in charge of all the important things that make the Swallowtail WI so special. She takes care of our tablecloth, sewing on every square you make and keeping track of all our supplies. She writes all the birthday cards and most importantly of all, she lays out the snacks!
I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped out with the behind the scenes tasks over the year. Anita who makes sure the kitchen and bathroom are clean and fully stocked. Louise who took our fairies to the show. Kate who typed up our tips guide. Jenny King who designed our tickets for next year's quiz and Jenny Bach who is our new resolutions advisor. Kerry who set up and runs our book club and finally thank you to Ruth, Jeanette and Lucy who helped us form the original committee. Sadly life got in the way and they had to step down. We miss seeing you at committee and you're always welcome back.
While we may be the faces of the Swallowtails what you don't see are our understanding family and partners who support us with our mad ideas, like setting up a WI and don't complain, at least not too much, when we abandon them several times a month for various WI duties. We are happier women because of the WI and so I like to think they benefit too. Plus we pay them in cake.
Finally I would like to say a big thank you to you the members. Without you there would be no Swallowtail WI, no great nights out or new friends made. Every single visitor we have, especially those from federation, comment on what a warm, friendly atmosphere we have here and that's because of you. You're always willing to welcome new people, to get involved and you show up month after month. We do this for you and the reward of being part of the Swallowtail WI is definitely worth it.
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