Members Meeting – 13th November


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.

IMG_2665Vice 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.

Picture1Lesley 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.

Picture1Gina 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!

IMG_2664This 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.


IMG_2666The 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


Remembrance Day Parade 2018


Eleven members of our WI were honoured to take part in the Remembrance Day Parade on Sunday. Our journey to the parade began over a year ago when Katie suggested that we make a wreath to lay at the war memorial in this special year, commemorating 100 years since the end of WWI.

all ready, three abreast

Katie carried the beautifully crafted wreath, which she had made with the 100 poppies crafted at our September meeting. At the Regis Centre Stella and Dinah joined the parade and Katie passed on the wreath for them to lay at the War Memorial.

Stella and Dinah lay our wreath

The comments below from our members best sum up the day.

It was a privilege and pleasure to be given the honour of laying your beautiful wreath at the War Memorial on Sunday’.

A special and very moving occasion that will be a treasured memory’.

So proud to have been part of today, hope we have started a tradition that will continue in years to come’.

It was an honour to represent women, our own families and the WI at today’s special Remembrance Parade’.

‘I think we did ourselves proud with both our hand made wreath and trying to keep up with the marching!’

I was very proud to walk with friends at such a moving time of reflection. I had wonderful feeling of belonging, I also hope this becomes a tradition. Thank you all, this morning was very special’

Click here to see all our photos of the day.

Words: Dinah Barrand

Photos: Kate Claisse


Walking Netball

On Wednesday 7th November Jan Marsden and I joined with three other Wi ladies at the Regis Centre, to play Walking Netball.
Under expert tuition, all agreed they had enjoyed the evening and received a great, although relatively gentle, workout.
New team members welcome, all ages and abilities.
A great way to exercise and avoid piling on those winter pounds.
The course lasts 20 weeks, meeting every Wednesday at 7pm for one hour
Annie Smith


Ending Plastic Soup

On October 31st, Kate and Gina set off to the WI End Plastic Soup Conference at the Abbey Centre in Westminster. The speakers – Bruce Newport from The Environment Agency,  Stephanie Wright from Kings College London,  Arturo Castillo of Imperial College London, Rachael Miller of The Rozailia Project and  Natalie Welden from Glasgow University –  were erudite and passionate about their subject and the information provided frighteningly demonstrated the importance of this WI campaign.

So, what is the issue?

Picture1Microplastic fibres are small plastic fragments (5mm or smaller) that are shed from synthetic clothes when laundered and end up in the sea and wider environment. The scale of the problem is large: millions of people wash their clothes every week, shedding these tiny particles that are too small to be caught  by the machine’s filters, flowing into the sewage system and eventually into the ocean.

Due to their small size microplastic fibres are readily ingested by aquatic life, filling up their stomachs which can eventually cause death. We also know these fibres can end up in the food we eat – the long term effects of which are not yet clear.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has predicted that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish. Urgent action is needed to raise awareness of the issue: the campaign is about educating communities and raising awareness amongst members and the wider public to put the issue on the public agenda and encourage greater action.

In light of the facts that were presented to the conference, it was hard not to feel pessimistic but Rachael Miller of The Rozailia Project was more upbeat with suggestions on how as a group and as individuals, we could make a difference.

Actions that could be taken included: washing at a lower temperature, ensuring that clothes were only washed when necessary rather than when half dirty, reducing the length of the wash cycle and ensuring that washing loads run at capacity. It was also suggested that members might wish to invest in a fibre catching device such as the Cora Ball for use in washing machines.

Cora Balls

The Cora Ball does not solve the problem completely but claims to remove about 30% of microfibres released in the washing cycle.

After the academic speakers, three members of Selby Swans WI (together with mannequin Adelaide dressed completely in clothes made from unrecyclable plastic) gave an inspiring talk. As a fairly new WI they had really grasped the nettle with this campaign and shared with the conference the many ways they had worked to spread the message to their local community and the encouragement given to members to pledge to make a difference.

It was a hard act to follow but the representative from Isle of Wight Federation spoke about this campaign and the way in which they had linked it with the move to reduce the single use plastic. The Federation is working hard with other IOW stakeholders to really make a difference.

The floor was then opened up and members had a number of excellent ideas and suggestions about how the WI could be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Gina and Kate came away feeling that the issue was a really pressing one and that efforts needed to be exerted on government and businesses to take steps to reduce the sea of plastic which is threatening to compromise our health and environment.  There is however much that we can do as members to make a real difference.

  1. Learn more and raise awareness– watch ‘A Plastic Tide’, Sky’s documentary looking at the scale of ocean plastic waste and how it is entering the food chain.
  2. Use the NFWI’s postcard and write to your favourite clothing retailer asking them what they are doing to tackle the issue of microplastic fibres (available in the NFWI report – In A Spin – on pages 20 and 21 and also available to download on My WI).
  3. Use the NFWI’s template MP/AM letter to highlight the report findings and ask for commitment from Government (available to download on My WI).
  4. Think about ways in which you can cut back on single use plastic. One delegate recommended the book ‘No. More. Plastic.: What you can do to make a difference’ by Martin Dorey.  The book is available in West Sussex Libraries.
  5. Consider the laundry suggestions outlined above on how to minimise microplastic pollution
  6. With Christmas rapidly approaching, think about where presents and wrapping paper may end up. Each Christmas alone the UK generates the weight of 3.3 million Emperor Penguins in plastic waste. And 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used each Christmas in the UK alone – enough to go around the globe 9 times! Metallic wrapping paper and paper with glitter on is NOT recyclable and glitter is actually a microplastic so best avoided in all it’s forms.  Maybe think about a different way of wrapping (non-plastic) gifts:-
  7. Pick up plastic from the beach – we’re in a perfect place to do that.
  8. Consider buying second hand clothes occasionally.

Words:  Gina Fitch-Roy

Photos:  Kate Claisse