On World Kindness Day President Dinah Barrand warmly welcomed members and three visitors to the November meeting. Dinah pointed out a jar of sticks, each with a RAOK – Random Act of Kindness – printed on it, and members were invited to take a couple and try to do them in the coming weeks.
Debbie Brooks then introduced the speaker, Claire Cole. Claire gave the meeting an excellent talk on Mindfulness including the history, evidence and practice in the UK. Mindfulness stems from the Buddhist tradition and was embraced by an American doctor who developed its use to treat chronic pain. It was then taken up by three Cognitive Behavioural Therapists in Cambridge in the 1990s, who developed an 8 week course in Mindfulness CBT for those suffering from depression. After extensive studies and following NICE guidelines, mindfulness is now available on the NHS.
The practice concentrates on ‘being’ not ‘doing’ and Claire pointed out that we are rarely in the present moment but often looking back – rehashing – or looking forward – rehearsing – stressing ourselves over thoughts of ‘if only’ or ‘what if’.
The meeting was then invited to do a short breathing exercise and asked to consider how this made them feel and Claire talked about the fact that physical changes take place in the brains of those who practise regular mindfulness. In coping with difficult interactions with other people, Claire described what she called 50:50 practice which centres on giving half your attention to the other party and half on staying grounded and aware of yourself. This, she explained, helps in allowing you to respond rather than react and allows you to choose not to react negatively to triggers in the conversation. Members were then asked to consider what depletes and what nourishes them and how they personally achieve a balanced life. The talk ended with another session of centring and breathing and a now very relaxed Dinah gave a warm thank you to Claire for an interesting and helpful talk.
Following a refreshment break in which members had the opportunity to drink tea, eat cake, sign up for future events, buy raffle tickets, vote on the competition entries and catch up with friends Dinah called the meeting back to order.
Warm thanks were offered to all those who took part in the Act of Remembrance Parade on Sunday’s 100thanniversary of the Armistice at the end of WW1. She spoke of how proud she and the other 10 members were to be part of such a special and moving occasion and thanked Katie for suggesting and organising the WI’s involvement which is hoped will continue in subsequent years.
The new Committee were then presented to the members with each Committee member introducing another. So Dinah, Katie, Sue, Barbara, Kate, Joyce, Debbie, Sarah and Gina were formally welcomed and Jeanette and Celia were presented with presents and cards to thank them for their sterling work on the previous Committee. Celia’s involvement with the running of the WI will continue as both she and Lesley Guppy volunteered to be BRWI representatives on the South Rife Group.
Vice President Sue Harris reminded members to take an envelope containing their renewal forms home with them to return them at the December or January meeting and also invited them to think about charities for BRWI to support next year – bearing in mind that it has been good to provide practical help to both Stonepillow and Friends of Bognor Hospitals. Dinah echoed this, pointing out the huge mountain of hats, gloves and socks that members had brought in for Stonepillow.
The meeting was then invited to vote on the fixings for the name badges for members and visitors and it was agreed that lanyards rather than pins or magnets will be provided.
Lesley Guppy then gave a really informative description of her experience as a delegate at the recent WSFWI Annual Meeting in Worthing. She described how the various reports given on the day presented a picture of the positive and robust nature of WSFWI with many new WIs being opened, the finances in a stable state and lots of future plans. She also gave the meeting a taste of the afternoon speakers – Jane Robinson Social historian and author of “A Force to be Reckoned With” – a history of the WI and her latest book “Hearts & Minds,” the Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote and Lady Emma Barnard Chatelaine of Parham House and High Sheriff of Sussex 2017 – 2018. Interestingly, Lady Emma was also the great great niece of Lady Denman so had a clear link to the WI both nationally and locally. Lesley also noted the presence in an official capacity of BRWI’s Jan Marsden who was recently elected to be a Trustee, and in turn Jan (and the whole meeting) thanked Lesley for such an excellent picture of a full and interesting day. Lesley also showed members one of the very first, and very rare, books to be written about the WI (in 1943) and invited them to take a look.
To read Lesley’s full report please click here.
Gina then briefly described the conference she attended with Kate on the WI Resolution on Plastic Soup. She spoke about the appalling scale of the problem as it was presented by the various speakers but, more positively, also talked about what we could do as a national organisation, as a local WI and as individuals to make a difference.
After this, Annie was invited to talk about the fun she had had playing walking netball – with social and physical benefits along with lots of laughs – and exhorted others members to give it a go.
The financial budget is still a work in progress and will be presented at the next meeting. Dinah did however inform the meeting that the recent (very well attended) quiz had raised £409. Excellent!
This month’s competition ‘I tried something new’ attracted seven entries – hurrah! – with Annie and Barbara sharing first place and Pam taking third. We were treated to a real reflection of members’ initiative, resourceful and willingness to take a risk. Well done to all who entered. Next month’s competition will be ‘Craft a Cracker’ – hopefully using recyclable materials.
The super raffle prizes (Happy Hampers) were won by very lucky Rosemary Coleman and Jeannette.
Finally Dinah reminded members of the December meeting when we will be entertained by Dawn Gracie – Dress to Impress and bring something for Secret Santa which should be a (pre-loved) book which you have enjoyed. Please wrap it and attach a label explaining why the book was special to (anonymous) you.
The very full and enjoyable meeting ended with Dinah wishing all members a safe journey home.
Words: Gina Fitch-Roy
Photos: Kate Claisse