President’s Address 2023

When West Sussex Federation took the decision to move last year’s
Annual Meetings to this year, my initial reaction was that of being denied
parole. At our 2021 Annual Meeting I‘d given notice of my intention to
step down in 2022.
In hindsight that decision allowed me to do what I love most about being
President, leading a face-to-face meeting. It’s given me the opportunity
to do this, an additional 5 times, slightly making up for the 15 I’d missed
as a result of the pandemic.
2022 brought normality back to our WI with 11 monthly meetings,
including a Christmas meeting. Both a first in 3 years.
This year sees the biggest change of committee since 2019 with Joyce,
Kathryn and Sarah stepping down with me. I’m sure you will all join me
in thanking them for their contributions to our WI.
Joyce hadn’t been a member very long when she stepped into the role
of Treasurer at the last moment, no Treasurer no WI!! Having stepped
down as Treasurer she’s been a much needed additional pair of hands,
photos, raffle tickets, pouring fizz to name a few tasks that are key to a
Kathryn brought a completely new look to the Buzz and regularly
suggested slight changes which made my contributions read so much
better. She has welcomed you to meetngs together with Sarah who
overcame her total dislike of Zoom to help us through the pandemic with
her Zoom craft and Zen tangling sessions. Her crafting continued at
meetings and the craft group and her “out of the box” thinking has given
us some brilliant raffle prizes.
Thank you also to those who are staying on committee. Lorraine who
took over as Treasurer happily coming on to committee because, in her
own words, “it’s time I gave something back.” Until recently Lorraine has
also run the Eating Out Group. Fleurie joined our WI in October 2021
and immediately brought some fresh ideas to our WI, hosting make up,
hair, nails and beeswax squares activities. She has organised other
activities and brought some fresh ideas to our WI, hosting make up,
hair, nails and beeswax squares activities. She has organised other
activities and brought together members suggestions into our new

Jen came to 2 face to face meetings prior to the pandemic and then
saved the day and my sanity by taking the vacant Secretary role. As my
“left hand woman” she has brilliant and constructive ideas, calms me
down (don’t hit that bell again!) and makes me laugh. Her Art teacher
background has been put into good use with an art evening for one of
our meetings and she has reinvented the Art group.
I would like to thank all of the sub group leaders, whose sterling work
has allowed us to walk, play walking netball, paint, craft, knit, read, go to
the cinema and theatre and eat out.
This WI also relies on some key members working “off committee”.
Jack aka The Keeper of the Cupboard. That cupboard contains the all-
important tea, coffee, sugar etc. Jack brought the refreshments out into
the hall relieving the congestion in the kitchen and regularly provides a
little something extra, your cheese platters at Christmas for example. At
this point a big shout out to the cake makers, we have some truly
talented bakers.
Our longest serving “off committee” member, is our website
administrator Kate whose patience I’ve regularly tested with my lengthy
posts and album of photos.
Jan and Julie relieved me of some of my non-Presidential tasks, Jan
taking on the role of welfare, which she’s perfect for. I know because I’ve
been welfared. Julie becoming the MCS rep, ensuring all your data is up
to date, that is, so long as you tell her of any changes.
Thank you to all of you for your continued support and coming to
meetings. As a committee we facilitate meetings but it wouldn’t be a
meeting without you all.
Your generosity in supporting our local charities, particularly in the
current economic climate, is magnificent. The Bring and Buy Sale for
Sage House, the bunting and mince pies for their events and Clare and
Bee becoming volunteers. The constant stream of recycling for 4Sight,
refreshment donations when they did their talk, taking part in their walk
last October and knitting for Christmas and Easter. The campers and
swimmers donated to both and a thank you here to Gina for her annual
hospitality hosting our yearly swimming evening. There was to be an
Autumn swim as well but Southern Water put paid to that.

I am never prouder of our WI than when take part in community events.
Carnival; such a fun day and the weather was kind to us. Thanks to
those who took part, those who supported us along the route, to Katie
for getting us entered and last but not least to Fleurie who came up with
the theme and provided the playing cards, hair and makeup.
Once again, we were at the Remembrance Service, laying the wreath
for the third year was probably my proudest moment. Thank you to all
who came, to Sarah who laid the wreath with me and most importantly to
all those who provided an eclectic array of poppies, and to Jen and her
daughter (a WI member for the future) for putting them together into our
From community to national when earlier this month 7 of us travelled to
London to take part in Million Women March. We joined fellow Wis and
other women from all around the country and other countries. A truly
powerful and empowering day. Our “Rise Up Women” banner attracted
so much attention and, dare I say, made much more of a statement than
the other green and white WI banners. Thanks to all who came and
made my last event as President so special and memorable.
Ours is a flourishing WI, visitors remark how friendly and welcoming we
are and how diverse the age range is. Our average age has fallen in the
last couple of years and this helps to futureproof our WI.
Concerns have been raised about the size of our WI, it’s getting too big,
In the time I’ve been on committee and overseen numbers it’s not the
membership that’s increasing it’s the number of members coming to
meetings and we have a never-ending waiting list.
We must therefore be doing something right and I have every
confidence our WI will continue to flourish and be the WI of choice in the
Next month I come and sit in the cheap seats with a mixture of relief and
sadness, but it’s definitely time.
It’s been a privilege, with lots of fun and laughter, some tears, the
challenge of a pandemic but all so worthwhile and life -affirming.
Sue Harris