West Sussex Federation Annual Meeting 27 October 2020 – Delegate’s Report

Morning Session
Yvonne Price Federation Chair- Introductions and Welcome

Yvonne welcomed us to the 101st Annual Meeting with Zoom offering us the opportunity to be together.

Yvonne felt Zoom was a fun word that you couldn’t say and not be in a bad mood.
This was an Annual Meeting but not as we knew it: no non-WI guests or the mayor, no stands to visit, raffle, Denman Dip or flowers on the top table

Members of the Board of Trustees and the Advisory Team were welcomed and thanked for their support in these challenging times. Yvonne was also very happy to welcome guests, via Zoom, from neighbouring Federations.

Yvonne thanked all those attending, commenting that team spirit was stronger than ever.

The Board members were introduced and special thanks were given to Anne Parry and Chris Potter who had stood down from the Board. Both had received a bouquet of flowers, delivered that morning

Speaker: Lynne Stubbings NFWI Chair

Yvonne welcomed Lynne to the meeting.

Lynne opened by saying it seemed like a million years since she had spoken at the Federation’s Centenary Annual Meeting, only last year.

She shared her disappointment in having to cancel this year’s Annual Meeting at the Albert Hall. The Hall had offered 19 April for next year’s Annual Meeting. It was the only date on offer as the Hall is celebrating its 105th year anniversary and had already had a vast number of bookings as part of the celebrations. The Hall was keen to include the WI as a nod to our shared history. Whilst earlier than our normal date, Lynne decided to go ahead and accept the offer. At present NFWI was carrying on planning and assuming we would be there.

A decision would be made in the new year as to whether and/or how the AM could go ahead.

Lynne then went on to speak of the heart-breaking decision the NFWI Board made to close Denman. It had been the last decision they wanted to make. 27 colleagues had been made redundant as a result of the decision. The Board had received a vast number of messages after the decision, the majority being very supportive. There were some who hadn’t agreed and Lynne had been upset by the vitriolic content of some of the messages finding them very hurtful.

Lynne was delighted with the success of Denman at Home. Between June and September 22,000 participants both in the UK and internationally had enjoyed 130 online courses.

The aim is to keep the spirit of Denman going. NFWI are determined to look to the future with one day and residential courses being available throughout the country.

Lynne spoke about the 4 headings of the strategic vision: Bold and Inspiring, Inclusive, Growing and Relevant, Flexible. She said that there had been uplifting responses with an appetite for change. Members were proud to be part of our organisation.

It was important they knew their membership and members were encouraged to complete the Count Me In membership survey. National were looking at barriers to joining the WI both practical and cultural, and to removing them.

Membership fees were being reviewed and flexible membership being explored. Whilst traditions have evolved over the years the WI has and must continue to reinvent itself.

The present crisis has seen members re-joining and we have welcomed new members all seeing the benefits of companionship to mental health and wellbeing.

Lynne liked the quote “a woman is like a tea bag”; you never know how strong she is until she’s put in hot water”. She said that we have so much to be optimistic about, with loyal and committed members in a community of friendship.

Lynne finished by speaking of her leaving her post in the coming year and highlights of her 4 years including being part of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, the Remembrance Day parade in London in 2018 and a special service at Westminster Abbey.

Yvonne thanked Lynne for taking time to speak today and all her support over the years.

Delegate Voting:

Yvonne advised that delegate voting would be taken forward via a Zoom poll and was undertaken as follows.

Record of the 2019 Federation Annual Meeting
98% voted in agreement 2% abstained
Standing Orders for Federation Annual Meetings (not changed since the last meeting) 98% voted in agreement 2% abstained
Adoption of the 2020 Annual Report – 100% voted in agreement

Presentation of the Federation Accounts – Maxine Gregory Federation Treasurer

Maxine explained that the Financial year ran from April 2019 to March 2020.

West Sussex had 109 WIs with 4038 members.

Maxine talked us through the year’s accounts which had seen a 15% drop in income, with subcommittee events down by £8000.

Maxine said that our Federation is a thriving organisation, but we needed to raise funds. She asked attendees to encourage members to attend the Federation Zoom events.

Maxine thanked Linda, Jane and Sally at North Lodge for all their help and support. Yvonne thanked Maxine for the report and all her work and support.
The Annual Accounts were voted on by the delegates and accepted.

Federation Chairman’s Report – Yvonne Price

Yvonne spoke of the successes over the past year, being very proud of the way WI’s have kept in touch with their members and planned a variety of activities. The pandemic was forcing innovative changes that could give more opportunities.

Advisers and trustees have been meeting via Zoom and Wis have been holding committee meetings and members meetings via Zoom.

Zoom is not for everyone and just that phone call to a member is so appreciated. Google Meet is also now available to WIs free of charge.

The digital version of the West Sussex News has been successful and will hopefully continue in that form.

Federation is looking to offer a mix of events to members with flexibility for working members. The use of digital tickets for events has also been a success.

Jan Marsden’s subcommittee has been particularly successful in organising events.

Zoom has offered the opportunity for speakers from outside the area and allowed the yearly Federation quiz to continue.

Yvonne asked that WIs keep in touch and let Federation know what we want from them. There will finally be a time when we can hug again.

Federation Announcements Yvonne Price

Funtington, West Stoke and Kingscote WIs had special birthdays this year but sadly had not been able to celebrate how they would have wished.

The October 300 club draw had already been undertaken and the winners announced.

Well done also to all who had been successful in submitting photos for the Calendar Cup – Signs in West Sussex. Piers and Bridges is the topic for the next Calendar.

Yvonne closed the morning session at 12.00

Afternoon Session

At the afternoon session Yvonne welcomed Harold Middleton of Bake Off fame. He caught the public’s attention in the fourth series with his quirky style (remember the jumpers) and his love of unusual ingredients. He is possibly best remembered for “Custardgate” when another contestant mistakenly took his custard from the fridge and used it in her dish.

Howard gave an interesting and amusing talk about the audition process for the show, his time on the show including that incident and what he’s done since continuing with his love of baking whilst becoming a food writer and presenter. He happily answered a number of questions from attendees.

Yvonne thanked him for his talk, thanked all who had attended and closed the meeting.

Sue Harris