Secretary’s Report 2017


October 2016- October 2017

WOW how quickly does a year go by? This time last year I was nervously wondering what I’d let myself in for taking on the Secretary role – now I know!  But honestly I’ve really enjoyed my year as secretary – getting to know so many warm, interesting ladies and working with a wonderful committee. I didn’t know much about the WI before I joined nearly 2 years ago (I still don’t know a lot!) but the more I learn the more impressed I become. I found out more about the history of our organization when Jan and I attended the celebration at Great Ote last month.  Where 100 years to the day the first ‘conference’ or Annual meeting of Sussex WI’s took place. Looking around the marquee some of the ladies in their finest hats wouldn’t have been out of place at the 1917 meeting. It feels a privilege to be part of such a longstanding and strong organisation. The WI has embraced many changes over the years and has kept itself relevant for all women today. It provides a place for friendship, support and education in its broadest sense for women whatever their backgrounds, and continues to be ‘a force to be reckoned with’ of which I’m proud to be a part.

This annual report is written on behalf of the committee and its purpose is to reflect on the past 12 months. Last year 2 committee members stood down – Karen and Annie. Katie and myself were the 2 newbie’s – Katie looks after the speakers and the competition each month and I took on the Secretary role. I’d like to thank our fantastic President Lesley, our fabulous Vice President and welfare officer Sue, our super efficient Treasurer Celia, delightful Jeanette who makes sure we have tea and cake each month and looks after new members, Sue R our link with South Rife and creative Katie ,for their enthusiasm and hard work, which has made my job so much easier. The committee has met each month and recently co-opted Chris Hutchins to shadow Celia with a view to taking on the Treasurers role.

We have 67 members with an average attendance of 43 each month. We’ve met 11 times this year with a summer social in August.

We are extremely fortunate to have so many willing members who organize a stunning array of sub groups, which have continued to be well supported and super active. In no particular order we’d like to thank Mandy for organizing the many trips for the Theatre group. Karen for commanding the SCIFFLE group, Rosemary for Knit and Natter (maybe better-named Natter and Knit!). The talented Lynn for her fabulous art sessions, Jan for organizing such a varied programme of walks, Flo for the Book group – we’re such a lot of bookworms that Celia has now started a second group which is already full. Karen (again) for the ‘Chick Flicks’ cinema group ooh and for editing the ‘Buzz’ each month. Lesley Hiley for over-seeing the Eating out group and Jan for the fledgling ‘Acting Up’ drama group. A massive thank you to Barbara for the Craft group, who after many years has now stood down so… if anyone would like to take on the craft group an opportunity awaits! A big thank you to Kate for our website which she keeps updated with news about outings and events. And maybe most importantly thank you to all our members for volunteering to do the tea and cakes every month, selling raffle tickets, manning sales tables and more – in fact thank you to everyone for being here each month – we need you!

Now thinking back  ……… shortly after last year’s Annual Meeting the first event of our new year was the well attended and closely fought (for some teams anyway) Quiz night. The winning team won by only half a point. Thanks to Karen for setting the varied questions and being a great quiz master.

At our November meeting Lesley gave a lively report of the West Sussex Annual Meeting in Worthing, which she’d attended as our delegate – thank you.  We also had an interesting talk about the Women’s Land Army from Ian Everest. He concentrated on their activities in West Sussex and Lady Denman’s involvement. The highlight of the evening was hearing about our member Stella’s personal experiences as a Land Girl on a farm just outside Guildford. Later in the month several members went to St. Mary’s school and helped, what felt like hundreds, of 6-8 year olds bake 100 mini Christmas cakes.

In December we enjoyed a tasty evening of chocolate samples and an informative talk about her chocolate making business ‘Salon du Chocolat’ from Dawn Shivers. Members were invited to 3 Christmas parties – North Bersted, Pagham and Westergate and had a lovely time. Members were as usual extremely generous and donated a large box of presents for a local charity charity ‘Tylers Trust’. The 2 new charities for 2017 voted for by members were ‘My Sister’s House’ and ‘Sammy’s Community transport’.  The Competition cup winner 2016 was Chris Hunter.

At the first meeting of the New Year we welcomed 6 new members. Our speaker was the lovely Nathan Dellicott from Barfoots. He gave a great talk and Katie asked him if he and his fellow farmers were thinking of making a calendar! Lynn, Angela and Jack were the lucky winners of the £100 bursaries.

In February on Valentines Day the amazing fire eating Pip Henderson entertained us. We attracted much local interest as she performed her fire breathing outside the hall in the car park. It certainly brightened up a dark February evening. This was also the month of Bunting – ‘My Sister’s House’ asked if we could make some for their event in March. Thanks to all who contributed to what felt like miles of yellow and green bunting. We had a stall at the event promoting our WI – thanks to all who helped.

In March 2 more new members joined us. Our speaker was Paul Brooks a senior leader with Sussex Search and Rescue – it was amazing to hear about the work of these unpaid volunteers.

In April we had a talk from Mike Curtis about his ‘Life in a Submarine’. His talk was firmly planted in the 1980’s and he was not our most successful choice of speaker. We had an enjoyable walk along the Prom to raise money and awareness for ACWW ‘Women Walk the World day’.

Picture1fMay is Resolutions month and Lesley explained the process and then presented the 2 resolutions with a power point, video clips and a discussion. Members voted against ‘Alleviating Loneliness’ and for ‘Plastic Soup’. Christine Scott our delegate attended the meeting and took our vote to the AM in Liverpool. We also held the popular ‘Fashion Show’, which was well attended and enjoyed by everyone – thanks to our ‘model’ volunteers and M&CO who provided the outfits. Thanks to all members who contributed to the accessories stall and particular thanks to Margaret Wallace and Sarah Greenway for their generous contributions.

Our photographers Sheila and Karen’s photos were chosen to be in the West Sussex calendar next year. Julie Budge from ‘My Sisters House’ gave an update on their work and the dire need for their services supporting women who are victims of domestic abuse.

June is the month of the South of England show and many of our members were involved, baking cakes or volunteering for the tea tent as well as our 7 show entries. Barbara came 1st with her ‘Jeans Reinvented’, Jan and Katie were second in their classes, Rosemary Coleman and Karen were Highly Commended and Sheila Farmer and myself narrowly missed being placed – well done to all! click here to see more photos. Our speaker was the larger than life Tony Harris as Henry V111 who entertained us with his talk about Henry’s life long quest for ‘An heir and a spare’.

It was over to Sue H for our July meeting. She organized a thoroughly enjoyable evening recreating the popular Room 101 TV show. 5 brave volunteers presented their ‘pet hate’ and members were invited to vote on which should be consigned to Room 101. The most votes went to Chris Hunter for ‘inconsiderate mobile phone users’. An evening visit to Barfoots farm was not only informative but great fun. As well as learning about the environmentally responsible and high tech farming methods we enjoyed a bumpy tractor ride down the Chichester road holding up the rush hour traffic – we must have been an amusing sight to passers by. Later in the month 20 members a husband and a daughter enjoyed a “Behind the Scenes Tour’ at Chichester Festival Theatre.


here was no meeting in August but we did have a delightful afternoon at the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ summer social. The committee had drawn on their creativity to dress up, decorate the hall and provide an ‘unusual’ menu for tea. Members partook enthusiastically showing their talent for ‘Mad hat design!” Jan won the hat competition and Mandy was the hard fought croquet champion.

Some members enjoyed a rearranged West Sussex visit to ‘The Girls’ in London.

In September eleven of us enjoyed a sunny lunchtime at Tinwood vineyard, Halnaker. Our lovely host Jody gave us a tour of the vineyard followed by a tutored wine tasting of 3 sparkling wines. The surroundings were stylish and the cheese and wine wonderful. Several of us bought bottles to take home. Sammy’s transport provided the minibus to get us all home safely. Our September meeting was cut short because of unseasonably wet and windy weather. But we did enjoy learning about the best way to dress for our body shapes from the very knowledgeable and entertaining Linda Mc Donald. We should all look super smart now as we head into another exciting year with Bognor Regis WI.

We’re going to see some changes next year with our hardworking, knowledgeable and enthusiastic President stepping down after 5 years on the committee – almost a life sentence. Lesley was the Treasurer before she became our President for the last 3 years – she certainly deserves a break! I’m sure that you’d all like to say a huge thank you to Lesley.

Dinah Barrand