This is a personal reflection from our delegate, Angela Charles, who attended on behalf of Papworth Everard W.I. together with Jenny Wilson as an observer.
This report is based on my own personal view of being a delegate at the A.G.M. The official report will be in W.I. Life.
I would like to start by saying that being a delegate was one of the best experience I have undertaken; it was a privilege and a pleasure to represent you.
There were five and a half thousand members at the conference and it began with the singing of Jerusalem.
Janice Langley, the national chair, delivered a very slick and professional AGM. In her address she pointed out that the WI has been campaigning on issues since 1954 with Lady Brunner putting forward a Resolution in 1955 “Litter in the Streets”. Later the government of the day took it up and it became known as Keep Britain Tidy. That is the influence the WI had then and still has today. she also said every WI is what its members want it to be. If you want to achieve something for your WI and need help in doing so, contact your federation. If they can’t help, speak to National and if they can help, they will. There was good news regarding Denman. With the new business plan in place it’s on course to break even this year.
The Resolution “Increasing Organ Donation” was debated well. Members came forward giving their views and one having received donor organs and the Resolution was passed unanimously.
We had three very good speakers; the first was Sir Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, who grew up in East Anglia. His inspiration for poetry came from a teacher, Peter Whey. Having been brought up in the countryside, he is passionate about keeping as much of our green belt as possible. He is the Chairman of the Campaign to Promote Rural England. Our second speaker was the entomologist, Dr George McGovern, who worked at Oxford University from 1984 to 2008 in the Museum of Natural History. He then went into television making natural history programmes. He is passionate about keeping the Rain Forests and says that if they disappear, then the only primates left on the planet will be us. Our third speaker was Bill Turnbull, a presenter for 13 years of the No 1 Breakfast television programme on BBC1. He stressed how important it was to have a good relationship with your fellow presenter. He spoke about his time on Strictly Come Dancing and his passion for bee keeping and I have to say he is much younger looking in person than he appears on television.
Here are just a few things that will be happening in the Centenary year:
BBC2 will be making a programme looking back at 100 years of the WI
There will be a special book to celebrate the centenary
There will be a Baton that will leave from Anglesey. It will pass through every Federation and will arrive at the AGM on 4 June 2015.
There will be a Choir Competition.
For 1 year only there will be double the amount of delegates at the 2015 AGM. It will be 1 delegate to 2 WIs but fewer places for observers.
The 2015 AGM will be televised live over the internet. More details about this will be in WI Life.
We ended the AGM by singing Jerusalem, Land of My Fathers and our National Anthem.