On Wednesday, 26 March, the East Kent Federation of the WI held its 93rd Annual Council Meeting, with 850 members in attendance.
The meeting was opened by the Town Mayor of Folkestone, Councillor Roger West, who gave a very welcoming speech. He told us a bit about the history and newest developments in Folkestone, then concluded with thoughts about how important the WI is and the positive impact on people’s lives.
The welcoming address was given by Wendy Allen, the Federation Chairman, who sadly is stepping down this year. She told us how the WI is moving forward into the online world. She said 80% of the WI was now by email and that the East Kent Federation was developing its own website.
[Note: Apologies for the poor quality of the photos. I was using a little pocket camera from a far distance, then attempted to crop and enlarge the pictures.]
We had some wonderful entertainment, too. In the morning we heard songs by Rebecca Robinson, a local Kent singer. She was wonderful and gave us a wide variety of songs from Classical to Disney films.
Not only was she generous with her talent, she also donated 25% of her album sales that day to our WI federation!
After some announcements of forthcoming events by Robyn d’Albertson and a couple of others, we broke for lunch. This was a good time to circulate around the room, visiting old friends and making new ones. There was also a good bit of “retail therapy” in the mezzanine with handbags, jewelry, cards, and Fairtrade goods and food items for sale.
After lunch we had several presentations to various WIs for achievements, for growth, and more. Our afternoon entertainment was a talk by John Craven, BBC journalist and presenter. He covered 40 years of his BBC career, beginning with the ground-breaking children’s news program, Newsround, to his current spot as presenter on Countryfile. His talk consisted of slides and many humorous personal anecdotes, but he also expressed his serious concern about the disappearing British countryside.
He mentioned that Britain had only 14% of the countryside in trees, where in Europe the average is 44%. He also noted the loss of hedgerows on country roads, which resulted in loss of habitat for wildlife, and that 94% of the hay meadows have been destroyed in Britain since WWII, resulting in loss of wildflowers and wildlife habitat. He also spoke about being chosen as “Panda Ambassador” by the Chinese Government and the children’s charities benefitting to the tune of £7 billion raised by sales of the Countryfile Calendar.
Just before his talk, John sold and signed copies of his book, “Countryfile Handbook,” which was offered to council meeting attendees at a discount price. Although he soon sold out of copies, he donated £1 for each copy sold.
Following his talk, we had a raffle, a draw for a bursary prize to Denman College (winners were Goodwins WI, Broad Oak WI, and Minster WI), and the announcement of new elections to the Board of Trustees. Mrs Wendy Allen, outgoing chairman, presented a bouquet of flowers to the incoming chairman, Marion Rose.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:45pm and attendees left for their rides home, exhausted but satisfied for a very pleasant day.