2021/22 Annual Report.

It is with delight that I write this report on behalf of the committee, without Covid and lockdowns hanging over us. We are now back to normal as ever we can be, except the people especially the elderly and clinically vulnerable who have found it difficult to adjust to going out and of course coming to WI meetings.


Our meetings since March 2020 in May 2021 was held under covid rules where no more than thirty people could meet in an enclosed area such as our village hall. The covid vaccination programme was well under way with many of us having had the two covid injections so for our first meeting on the 20 th of May 2021 when some restrictions were lifted we had twenty-five members enjoy a talk by Ian Retson and his walk along he Pennine Way. We no longer felt it was safe to have our usual supper provided by members, so tea/coffee and biscuits were served to avoid any cross contamination, we have continued with this arrangement as it suits everyone.


Our AGM was moved to July when most of the restrictions were lifted so that more members could be accommodated in the hall. From then onwards we have held our monthly meetings every third Thursday, enjoying the various speakers, many of them said we were their first WI to give a talk to since March 2020 so for them it was quite an experience, and they were so glad to be able to talk to “proper” people instead of over zoom.


As we could not celebrate our eighty-fifth birthday with Lesley Smith in 2020 Lesley finally came to Smisby in July to give a superb talk on Peggy Knight the WW 11 Special Operations Executive Spy. In March Lesley once again was invited to give a talk on Sex and the Tudors, we never stopped laughing at the stories she told, what a wonderful evening that was had by all those who attended, we are so lucky to have this superb historical speaker who is the Chatelain of nearby Tutbury Castle.

The long-awaited History Wardrobe in October with Lucy was an enormous success numbers were down due to people still being careful but those that attended had a wonderful time enjoying the talk given by Lucy and the afternoon tea supplied by members.


Covid numbers were once again going up with a new variant “Omicron” set to go through the population, restrictions were put in place again, but we were still able to enjoy our Christmas party in the hall with the Roots Choir providing the entertainment.


Our usual Christmas meal at the Willesley Golf Club was another success, and of course we had the obligatory quiz and the Twelve Days of Christmas accompanied with all the actions.


The speakers have been varied throughout the past twelve months and we hope that you have enjoyed the talks they have given. Kirsty & Anna from Bank house came to collect gifts in October that you the members have provided for the people who will use the centre over the Christmas period. They gave a talk on how the past year has been for the centre since opening fully, the girls were taken aback at the generosity of you the members who gave gifts and presents so willingly to a very worthwhile cause.

We have continued with the two walks a month The Striders and Strollers ever the hardy type, we have had some lovely cold but sunny days, and freezing cold when we did a history walk round Ashby we were so glad to get into the Bulls Head for a Bacon Sandwich and a hot cup of coffee.


Julie wanted us to have something to remember our time during Lockdown and she suggested we have coloured felt squares and those that are able should put something on them that best represented our time apart from other members. Angela kindly supplied the felt and members put their artistic talents to use, and we now have a wonderful colourful reminder of the past two years.


Our craft sessions organised by Julie and Jane have taken place every first Thursday with a variety of crafts from felt broaches, macrame, making paper poppies and Christmas lanterns for the Christmas party on the evening.


Visits and days out have been organised for the coming year; we are trying to make up for lost time as nothing could be planned for the past two years. The Bell foundry at Loughborough and more recently the visit to the Gladstone Pottery at Stoke on Trent. More are planned to include November’s outing to the Thursford Spectacular, and Kew Gardens.


It is of course with deep regret when a member passes away and this year has hit us extremely hard, Cynthia Massey a stalwart of Smisby a committee member for forty years, and someone who always made new people very welcome. Peggy Ball another long standing member who always joined in events until at stroke made it difficult for her to attend meetings, she died peacefully in a home at the good old age of ninety- three.


Maureen Crabtree who was a founder member of the walking group and came on every walk until she became ill. Maureen had been ill for several years and bravely fought the cancer that finally took her.


Wilma, a lovely bubbly, very recent member, who non the less loved to enjoy all the event we put on and she especially loved to sing and joined the keep fit classes that were run in the hall, and finally Kate Powlson a very recent member, she enjoyed a few walks with us until having heart problems. All will be sadly missed at Smisby WI, our thoughts went out to their families at an incredibly sad time.


So let us recap what have we done besides several things already mentioned, a Pizza and Pint was organised at the Milking Parlour with people walking there. A walk round Barrow on Trent  included visiting the newly renovated St Wilfrid’s Church and lunch at a local restaurant. Stone carving with Graham, wood turning with at Greenwood Days, the Silk Museum Derby, walking round Derby to see the painted Rams, Mary Queen of Scott’s with Lesley at Tutbury Castle, visiting Rosliston Forestry Centre seeing and handling Owls, and members making Aluminium Garden butterflies. A remarkably busy year, have we made up for lost time I hope so, our membership is fifty-eight which includes seven new members who we have welcomed to Smisby WI this year.

SMISBY WI 2019/20 Annual Report

At the AGM and resolutions meeting held in May 2019 at Shelia Heap’s we saw the retirement of Cynthia Massey, who has been a committee member of Smisby WI for over forty years and previously a member of Woodville WI. Cynthia has been an active member of the committee as President or Treasurer, and on several occasions, Cynthia has hosted WI Christmas parties and Summer events at her home. We felt her retirement should not go unnoticed, so a ceramic planter filled with patio roses and violas and a thank you card was presented to her as a token of appreciation for all she had done for Smisby WI.
As Cynthia had retired from the committee new members needed to be recruited and we were extremely fortunate to have two volunteers Lynn Podmore and Julie Cooper which brings our committee total to Eleven. At the AGM we discussed the latest resolutions that were to be discussed at the NFWI meeting in Bournemouth, “don’t fear the smear and more rural busses.” It was decided to give our representative from Newhall a discretionary vote in other words use her own judgement, as Barbara and I were at the meeting it was very lively with a full discussion on both resolutions that were passed. The AGM silver dish competition was won by Pat Barnes who received a £10 gift voucher for her flower arrangement in a tin, and Marie South won the monthly competition gaining the most points over the year, a piece of Waterford Glass and £10 gift voucher was presented at the next meeting due to Marie being on holiday.
At the NFWI AGM in Bournemouth WI’s were encouraged to teach our grandchildren crafts, so it was decided that we would run two mornings in the village hall for grandchildren and their grandparents to come along and cook, decorate plant pots, make cards and many more items, they just loved it the grandparents that is, the children where little stars and loved taking something home that they had made.
July was Breast Cancer Care Month and it was agreed to hold an Afternoon Tea at Barbara’s home in Smisby, her garden was the setting for Bra’s filled with pink balloons bunting and a sales table, a raffle along with scones and cake, but our fickle English weather did not bring beautiful blue sky’s but dull drizzle all morning. It didn’t dampen our spirits and with a lot of hard work and many donations by members who could not come on the day we were able to send to the charity £520 a fantastic amount of money for a very worthy cause.
In July our annual outing took place this time to Chester, once we got there a guide boarded the bus and took us on a guided tour of the city pointing out many places of interest after coffee at a garden centre, owned by the Duke of Westminster we were free to explore the centre of the city, with several members taking a cruise down the river Dee. It was a superb day out on one of the hottest days of the year.
Harewood House was our destination for the Christmas outing, Lynn Podmore suggested the venue as they had a Christmas theme in the house. Not knowing what to expect we were all amazed by the talking statues, pictures, and plates in the kitchen, beautifully decorated rooms, and amazing gardens. A truly superb day out and once again lovely blue skies and mild weather for our visit
Due to the general election taking place and the village hall being used our Christmas meeting had to be held the next day. A superb buffet was once again supplied by members and we were entertained by the Melbourne Hand Bell Ringers. The Secret Santa table was full of beautifully wrapped presents and the Christmas card money collected £136 which will go to a charity to be decided. And to finish the year our annual Christmas meal at the Willesley Golf Club was well attended by forty-six members who enjoyed a two-course meal.
Philippa and Suzanne organise the monthly programme with ideas given to them from members and other sources, when we contact a speaker a year in advance you inevitably get speakers who cannot make it at the last minute. last year we had several who let us down but we still had some memorable talks given by Jackie Newbury who has worked for over thirty-years with the homeless of Derby organising a nightly soup run, the open evening with Jed Jeggard and his talk on the Home Guard, Ian Hambling on the local pottery T.G. Green and our visit to the “St Helens Church Ashby” a guided tour of this historical church plus a superb supper in the Heritage Centre. Hannah Roffey kept us fit with exercise (which we have continued with). Bob’s bits and Bob’s which everyone enjoyed and Ken Knowles the Town Crier a larger than life character.
The Derbyshire Federation have two meetings a year in Chesterfield and Derby, Janet Street-porter was the speaker in October who gave a hilarious talk about her life, husbands, and mothers-in-law.
Smisby WI belong to the Harpur Crewe group of institutes and in October it was our turn to be hostesses for the evening, we had had good reports about a lady called “Our Flossie”, we were told she is a comedy actress plus sings. Flossie did not disappoint she was brilliant, Flossie started with Connie Francis which was our era and for the finale we really let our hair down with a rendition of Abba tunes, a great night, great food and lots of help from members in the kitchen and waiting on tables, thank you all.
The Smisby Striders had to cancel one walk due to harsh weather during the year, but we did manage a one-night stay in Buxton which was organised by Marie. Several members and husbands enjoyed a walk in the Derbyshire Dales but unfortunately the planned walk the next day had to be abandoned due to torrential rain. Without the help of the members who volunteer to lead the walks they would not go ahead, many thanks to all the volunteers, everyone very much appreciates the commitment that is put in to make the walks run smoothly. On March the 12th Pat and Suzanne cooked a lunch for any member and the Smisby Striders who were enjoying a walk around the woodlands at Lount. Twenty members including husbands enjoyed a lunch of Chicken/ham pie or Salmon en-croute with a dessert of Apple crumble, little did we know that it was to be our last meeting for a very long time due to a virus called Covid 19. On that day there were 330 people who had died from this dreadful disease as of today the 11th of May over 32,000 people in England have died.
On the 23rd of March it was announced by the Prime minister Boris Johnson that after taking scientific advice the whole of the country was to go into “lockdown” with people only being able to go out to get food and other essential supplies. Unfortunately, many people started to panic buy and within days the shelves in supermarkets were stripped of food, with the most notable item being toilet rolls that were flying off the shelves. We are now into our eighth week of lock down with a partial easing of some restrictions but no meetings can take place so the WI meeting will be a long way off yet. We are not the only country to have suffered this awful disease Europe, Iran, USA and many other countries have suffered as well, scientist believe Covid 19 originated in Wuhan, China as they were the first people to report the outbreak.
We had so many things planned but a least in February twenty-five members enjoyed the Magic Attic and Sharpes Pottery Museum and afternoon tea afterwards. April was going to be a very busy month for us but in March the Area Council Meeting at Chesterfield was cancelled and after that a raft of meeting were all cancelled, Quilt and Stitch in Uttoxeter, Repton the King and I, group meeting at Ticknall, Stone Carving at Coleorton, Half a Sixpence at Kilworth House, the NFWI AGM at the Albert Hall in June, Chatsworth Garden Show, and of course in April we should have had the long awaited History Wardrobe afternoon tea that we were putting on for 100 guests and not forgetting Lesley Smith who was invited to our 85th Birthday celebrations in June, to give a talk about Peggy Knight, a WW11 Special Operations Executive (SOE) spy.
As you can probably tell I write this report throughout the year, the Covid 19 is now a pandemic as it is world-wide with 830,825 deaths as of 27 August 2020. Members throughout the eighteen weeks have had weekly emails from members with their thoughts about our situation, a “Just for a Laugh” letters went out as did poems and recipes from Philippa all sent by email and hopefully we entertained and kept in-touch.
Smisby’s AGM and resolution meeting should have been held in May but due to the lockdown we were unable to meet anyone outside our family bubble. All meetings, walks, craft, and other planned events were all cancelled until further notice. At the end of June, we could meet outside in groups of six, so we started our walking group but twice a week to give a chance for those that wanted to walk the opportunity. Pubs restaurants were still closed so we took picnics and either sat on benches where available or in a member’s garden. The walks have included Swannington Incline, Ticknall, Donisthorpe, Hough Mill, Bretby, Pits & Pots around Swadlincote, Albert Lake Grangewood to Linton and many more, all lovely walks and now that restaurants and garden centres are open we can eat at them, especially when the “Eat out to Help” out £10 offer was available.
I have to end on a very sad note about the death of two of our much loved members Jean Statt and Val Hanks, who passed away during the lockdown which meant that we could not pay our respects at the funerals as we would like to have done. Val was President for three years and Jean a member since she came to live in the village over forty years, both will be very much missed at the meetings, also Jeff Barnes Pat’s husband passed away after a long illness, Jeff was our auditor for many years and supported Smisby WI at the many functions that we put on we will dearly miss him,
We were looking forward to resuming our meeting in the village hall in September although in a very reduced capacity due to government guidelines, but it has had to be delayed until further notice. Thank you for your support in these difficult times and we look forward to the months ahead which we hope will not be so challenging.






SMISBY WI 2018/19 Annual Report

The Derbyshire Federation of Women’s Institutes this year celebrated 100 years since it was formed and in true WI fashion many celebrations took place across the county to mark the centenary and challenges set. We at Smisby decided to commission two interpretation boards for the village giving the history of the village hall and another for St James Church.

The completed boards were unveiled in May by Councillor Michael Stanton, where many of the Smisby residents and WI members attended and enjoyed our now famous Bacon Butties. (unfortunately, we did not win the W I Centenary Challenge,  but we have a lasting memory of Smisby Village and the WI’s association within the village)

DFWI celebrated it’s 100 year with a church service at Tideswell Church, or locally know as the Cathedral in the Peaks, with four of our members attending. We also celebrated DFWI’s 100 years by having a “Tinsel and Tiara” evening in the village hall, the Cocktail Shaker Boys gave a talk on the origin of cocktails we of course tried them as well as mocktails along with Pimm’s and Prosecco, a fabulous night with us in our long dresses and Tiaras.

 The twice-yearly Area Council meetings are always well worth going to and although Janet Street-Porter was unable to attend due to other commitments, Mandy Hickson a retired Tornado RAF fighter pilot stepped in and gave an excellent talk, and  Jules Holland was superb at the spring meeting telling us about his childhood and how he got into television and into presenting Countryfile and Escape to the Country.

For the past three years we have exhibited items at the Derbyshire Show and 2018  was our most  successful. Angela won 1st place with a patchwork bag, Marie came 1st in the photography section and we had Margaret, Chris and Marie, bringing back rosettes. Several members also made Matinee Jackets, for premature babies which were to be given to the Royal Derby hospital premature baby unit, we didn’t win anything for our efforts, but as they say it’s not the winning it’s the taking part that matters.

We have some very talented members who regularly attend the monthly craft mornings. So, in July seventeen members visited the Patching’s Festival and bought back some fabulous ideas for future craft sessions.

At the monthly craft mornings, we have had a cookery demonstration, flower arranging, Quilling, Weaving, Pyrography, (wood burning) glass fusion, and many more crafts that have kept us occupied. We also visited the Patchwork & Sewing Exhibition at Uttoxeter race course in April, it is amazing the wonderful work that is exhibited at this show and of course lots of things to buy. For the past few years we have a ballot for the  £100 bursary to be used for educational purposes. Margret Boyd won the £100 last year and went on two  workshops to learn  about glass fusion and handmade silver jewellery. This year Marie South won the Bursary and  attended  a course to learn how to enhance her skills in etching and printing and  putting colour on to prints.

Two visits to the theatre  were arrange, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Kilworth House, and The Pirates of Penzance.

Both were very well supported and were superb and enjoyed by those that attended.

The annual day out this year was to  Buckingham Palace in August when it is open annually to the public for six weeks. We  also had tickets for the Mews where the Queen’s coaches are kept along with  the Coronation Coach, a magnificent site and a lot bigger than you realize when seeing it being driven down the Mall.

The Derbyshire Federation had organised an evening at Chatsworth to see the lights and have dinner, twenty of our members wished to attend, but when we found out that it would be balloted it was decided to organise our own visit. The coach was fully booked and in November we had a leisurely drive to Chatsworth for lunch and a visit to see  the house lit up with thousands of fairy lights. In May we visited the Denby Pottery factory just outside Derby, an excellent tour of the factory showing us how the table ware is made which is exported to over seventy-three countries worldwide, a  superb lunch was provided and we had plenty of time to browse the shops before heading home.

The two social events held this year which  always  prove very popular  and are very well supported, a  Race Night in September and Lynne and Pete’s Quiz Night in January.

Two group meeting have been held, with the Woodville Whirlwinds putting on their first meeting, which was an enormous success, the talk being about the Titanic and everything was themed around the talk. Ticknall were the hosts for the Spring group meeting, Biff Raven-Hill was the speaker telling us all about Ladybird books, we had an evening down memory lane  many of us remembering the books we used to read as children.

 It was our turn to host the carol service for the Harpur Crewe group at St James Church, it was a lovely service put together by Sue Betteridge with her husband Ivor playing the organ, several of our members read  poems, and  Pat’s pastry recipe was given to volunteers and we had superb home-made mince pies as well as Pat’s homemade mulled wine.

 It is never an easy task finding speakers and hoping that they turn up to give their talk, but Sonia and Rebecca who put the 2018 monthly programme together found some very interesting people, we did Belly Dancing and Fit Stepp’s. We heard from an ex-policeman who worked as a store detective, we even had Pat Ford our local Queen look alike tell us how she got into impersonating Her Majesty, also a guided walk by a blue badge guide round Melbourne with supper at Melbourne WI.

Rebecca & Sonia finished their two years by inviting the Ashby Spa WI Choir to sing at our Christmas meeting, a fantastic night and of course finished with community singing and a delicious supper provided by members.

 “The Elms” a domestic violence safe house, provided a wish list of items that the women needed, with the generosity of the members we were able to take to the head office many of the items they requested. We have also  raised £122 for the Betel Charity, £100 sent to Treetops Hospice in Derby, and £92.20p to the Marie Curie Charity shop, from our funds we also gave £100 to the Associated Country Women of the World, a charity that the NFWI support. The unveiling of the interpretation boards and bacon butty morning plus other fund-raising events during the year raised over £509.70  which was donated  to St James Church Smisby,  and is being used to commission a piece of stained glass for the church, and helped pay towards notice boards and the buffet supplied after the church service celebrating it’s 950 years anniversary.

The link Magazine which all members now get electronically is an effective way of finding out what other institutes do and advertising the various events that the Federation organise. We have been very fortunate  in having several photographs and write ups published. A  photograph was published in the Derbyshire Life, taken when our walking group the Smisby Striders had a guided walk round the Bluebell Arboretum here in Smisby. We are still enjoying the walks lead by our members in and around the local area, always very enjoyable you get to talk to members that you may not see at the meetings and of course lunch at a local pub to finish is always a must.

We have been very successful over the past twelve months with the various activities we have arranged, but I really must thank the members who help behind the scenes and their husbands, I cannot of course single anyone out as everyone helps in their own individual way whether its washing up putting away chairs etc. even attending the monthly meetings, and giving their time volunteering for the committee.

Our membership stands at sixty-three  with the average monthly attendance of Thirty-three, the committee feel that due to the restriction on parking and the size of our hall we have introduce a  waiting list for people wishing to join, but we have to leave it open to any Smisby residents who wish to join Smisby WI.

And now to next year it only seems a few years ago when we celebrated 80 years at the Mill Wheel in Hartshorne, how time flies. The speaker Julie Summers spoke about her book on the WI titled “Jambusters” our County Chair Chrissie Booth and Christine Gardener were invited to represent the Federation, so in 2020 it will be our 85th and the committee are planning of course a party with a very special guest speaker.

Thank you all for your support,  we are looking  forward to the next  twelve months, and  we hope you have been  inspired  with innovative ideas and challenges which we will take us into our 85th year.



Smisby WI 2017/2018 Annual report

Sheila and Peter Heap, welcomed members of  Smisby WI once again for the AGM and resolutions meeting, at the end and beginning of another very full year.

The resolution on food waste and micro beads polluting the waterways and oceans, were discussed and voted on, so that Jean could take our decision to the AGM. Jean had volunteered to be the delegate to represent Smisby and two other institutes at the Liverpool Echo Arena for the 102nd NFWI Annual Meeting

Last year we paid a visit to Beaumanor Hall in Leicestershire which was a WW 2 listening post for Bletchley Park, so for our 2017 outing we decided to pay Bletchley a visit. So, on a wet July Morning 42 members and husbands set off down the M l for a guided tour of this historic place.  The guides were very knowledgeable, we had an excellent in-site into the people who worked and helped to shorten the war by several months. As always generous donation from the Parochial Charity helped towards the cost of the day. 

The evening walk in August was a guided walk at Repton. Members were given a brief talk on the Cross in the centre of the island and then into St Wynstan’s Church for a visit to the crypt, finishing in the school Cloisters then back to the Repton tea rooms for supper.

Two days later it was our third Murder Mystery Evening, the theme this time was two murders in a vine yard, called “Sour Grapes”. Seven members from the Ashbian Musical Society agreed to act out the murder, they proved to be very good and played all their various parts with great gusto and said they really enjoyed the evening and would certainly come back and perform again for us. Pete was delighted with their performance as was everyone else. He said they didn’t keep to his script but enhanced it which made it all the more enjoyable.

2018, sees the 100 years of Derbyshire WI and many events and challenges have been planned by the trustees. All W I’s were invited to design and make a brick that would depict our W I or village to put in a collage, this is then displayed at various shows. Pat volunteered to design the brick with Angela making it on one of her embroidery machines, a lovely picture of the old church, that was made with a modern piece of machinery.

The Trustees Centenary Challenge to benefit the community was a challenge we decided to enter. The idea was to initially to provide an interpretation board on the history of Smisby outside the village hall, but as we are in a conservation area we decided it would be better to attach it to the existing notice board.  Pat asked if a board could also be made for St James Church as both notice boards needed repairing. We needed to do some fund raising. A very successful ‘Bacon Buttie’ morning was held, along with lunches for the Striders, after a walk to Blackfordby also Bluebell Walk both lead by Marie. Another ‘Quiz Night’ was organised by Lynne and Peter Benoist and this was well supported.

We successfully applied for a grant towards the project and received £750 from East Midlands Airport Community Support Fund. We now have enough money for the project to go ahead and the unveiling planned for late May.

Smisby WI were very fortunate in hosting a “Opportunities for All” morning and having Lynne Stubbings the current chair of the NFWI to give a talk about the future of the WI with a question and answers session to finish the talk. Thirty-Five members including members from other Institutes and the Chair of Derbyshire Federation enjoyed the talk given by Lynne. We have had a write up in the December edition of the Derbyshire Life, and had several photographs in the Link Magazine and we must not forget Laura Stock who was featured in the WI Life magazine about the Alpaca farm she runs with Chris her partner.

An evening at the Chatsworth Farm Shop with the Harpur Crewe Group gave us an insight into the challenging work that goes into making the business such a success, and the group meetings put on by other institutes, Melbourne with a speaker from Great Ormond Street, and Nancy with a cookery demonstration.

Rebecca and Sonia who organise the programme for the year have done a wonderful job with a varied selection of speakers, not an easy job especially when for assorted reasons speakers are unable to attend.

We always try to offer a varied programme of visits to theatre’s etc. and this year has seen us go to a Ladies day at Uttoxeter race course, Repton 400 Theatre to see My Fair Lady performed by the Ashbian Musical Society. A visit to Springs Health Spa, and a Paramedic from the East Midlands Ambulance Service came along to demonstrate CPR and how to use the Defibrillator.  We had a collection for the Derbyshire Search and Rescue (who was one of our speakers), the Air Ambulance, and members gave generously to the Elms Foundation a refuge for women suffering domestic violence.

We have a very proactive craft committee who have put on a wonderful assortment of crafts for members to participate in, with several of our members taking the classes which have been enjoyed by up to twenty members per session.

The Smisby Striders are still enjoying walks in and around our local areas, and it is so nice to see new member coming forward to lead walks and organise lunch at a local pub. We celebrated Jean Statt’s 90th Birthday on the 10th of May with lunch in the village hall after the monthly walk. Jean has taken photographs of all our outings and celebrations over the past thirty-two years and built up an extensive number of photo albums, so it was only fitting that we should celebrate her birthday with a beautiful cake made by Sheila Heap depicting a camera and a calendar. Several of Jean’s photographs of the local area were often feature in the Derbyshire WI calendar.

We have been very successful over the past twelve months with the various activities that have been arranged and as we look forward to another year, lets make Smisby WI the best it can be at inspiring our members to innovative ideas and challenges.

Our membership has grown steadily over the last few years to sixty-four with an average monthly attendance of Thirty-five. 

The committee wish to thank members for supporting all the various activities throughout the past year and we look forward to another year of continuing success.




WI National AGM Cardiff 6 June 2018

Report by Delegate Wendy Plant (President Burton Belles)

Thousands of ladies attended the AGM at Cardiff’s Motorpoint arena on Wednesday 6th June.

Chair’s address

After singing the rousing Jerusalem Lynn Stubbings (NFWI chair) addressed the audience. She highlighted the fact that it is 100 years since women were given the right to vote and in tribute to the suffrage movement flowers on the stage and in their corsages were purple, green and white. She was happy to report that last year 86 new WIs were formed and over 30,000 new members joined. Lynne highlighted the importance of WI campaigns, in the 100 years of campaigning many important issues have been tackled and our resolutions often contribute to policy formation and raise public awareness. MPs and Governments listen to the WI, this was echoed by guest speaker Huw Edwards from the BBC.

Hon. Treasurer’s statement

A summary of the annual review was given. The report can be found on the WI website and Federation offices .Gift aid- they are working on procedures to make claiming easier at all levels, including a new declaration form .In a recent survey 88% of members thought that the subscription fee represented good value for money. 92% of NFWI subscriptions went back into training and member activities. She thanked members for supporting the Saving Denman appeal and encouraged members to  participate in the range of courses and activities on offer to further secure its future.


We listened to the proposals for the resolution of raising mental health awareness from membersand the expert speaker Andrew Molidinksky, a consultant psychiatrist. We were told that the World  Health Organisation predicts that in 10 years mental health illness will be the most burdensome illness in the World. The aims of the resolution are to raise awareness locally and nationally and to reduce stigma associated with mental health illness. We were told that 25% of illnesses in the UK relate to mental health but funding is currently 6% of budgets, some patients had to wait up to 4 years to receive care. Several members took the opportunity to share personal, and sometimes distressing stories.

There was no speaker against the resolution, apparently the board had tried very hard to find one but failed. One of the board put several points to consider to the audience.  The speaker gave examples of programmes already underway in schools and hospitals and highlighted the fact that this subject is already on the agenda for policymakers. There was also a concern that some WIs would not know how to deal with the subject correctly and would need training. Votes were taken by delegates. The result was a 98% majority in favour of the resolution (103-5495 votes)

Guest Speakers

We were treated to a talk from Dame Stella Rimington, the real life M from the Bond films! She described her life and career and how she got to become the first female Director General for the MI5. She talked about how techniques have changed since she started work in the MI5 and how the role of women in the service has changed (for the better!)

The second speaker was Huw Edwards, journalist and newsreader for the BBC.  Huw talked about the importance of the WI campaigns. He particularly supported the resolution for mental health awareness. He shared with us how he believes physical and mental health are linked, having lost 3 stone in weight in the last year, and feeling much better mentally  because of it. He described how news broadcasting has changed over recent years and voiced his concerns with our ‘addiction to social media’

Other business

GDPR- look out in June’s mailing for an update

Closing date to submit resolution proposals for 2019 is 14th September.

Walking netball- we listened to England netball who described the success of the initiative and encouraged members to sign up or find out more information.

Website- have a look at the My WI website for tips and ideas of running a WI, videos and instruction for craft and cookery and much more.

NFWI recognise that they need to bring the WI up to date, with lots of members who work.

Update on previous resolutions – Government funding was given for research following our plastic soup campaign (even before David Attenborough featured it on Blue Planet!) There have been lots of events following the alleviating loneliness campaign, including the forthcoming ‘Big Lunch’ and ‘Great Together’

An interesting day, to hear how we have made such a difference over the last 100 years was inspiring. We are a powerful, well respected collective and should be proud to be members.


Smisby WI Annual Report 2015/16

 It seems such a long time ago since we were celebrating our 80th Birthday, on the 24th of January, at the Mill Wheel Restaurant Hartshorne with guests Chrissie Booth, County Chair, Christine Gardner archivist for the county plus Presidents from Ticknall, Melbourne, Staunton Harold, and Woodville and of course the members of Smisby WI. After a superb meal Jane Robinson author of “A Force to be Reckoned with” gave us a potted history of the WI from when it first started why and by whom, and then it’s first meeting in Anglesey, Jane was a very enjoyable and knowledgeable speaker which helped to make the day so very special. Of course we could not let this day end without a memento of the occasion everyone was given a coaster with the WI logo on it, also a book detailing the history of Smisby village, world events and how Smisby WI was first formed 80 years ago to the present day. Marie with the help of Barbara, Jean, and Sue did a wonderful job of collating and putting together this book full of local history, and pictures, a wonderful reminder of the day. Thanks must also go to the Sheila who made the beautiful Celebration Birthday Cake. At a suggestion from Dorothy we also have a superb plaque put up outside the   hall advertising Smisby WI.

Now to events we have had over the past eighteen months, as you are aware we have changed our AGM to coincide with the Resolutions meeting so it does mean that I have rather a lot of reminiscing.

To help celebrate 100 years of the formation of the WI organisation, two of our members Adrienne and Jean attend the Centenary Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in June, they had a wonderful time even though it was very windy on the day but the lovely sandwiches and cakes plus seeing the royal party made it a very special day for them both.

Barbara, Gill and Suzanne went to the AGM held at the Royal Albert Hall, it was such a memorable occasion, the Queen, Princess Royal, and the Countess of Wessex joined the NFWI committee on stage to open proceeding. After a short speech given by Her Majesty and receiving the Centenary Baton, she left the stage to cut a cake especially made for the occasion.

It was our turn to host the Harpur Crewe church service in 2014, a great night of carols readings and poems ware enjoyed by 63 people from other institutes with the evening finishing with mince pies and Pat’s now famous mulled wine.

Two Christmas lunches; 2014 at the Tap House; and with Sybil organizing lunch at Willesley golf course in 2015. Both were very well supported and enjoyable.

We have attended three group meeting, Gareth King talking about a Victorian

Gentleman’s wardrobe, Black Pig Morris Dancers, and a talk given by the RNLI

Members have participated in Archery at Derby University, sailing on Carsington Reservoir, and visited to Crown Derby.

An away day to Denman College in Oxfordshire, and a fantastic visit to Hampton Court. We Celebrated the 100th anniversary of the NFWI at Ticknall with the Harpur Crewe Group on the 16th of September. A coffee morning at Pat’s and tours of Smisby Church combined with a cheese and wine supper. Bacon Butties at the village hall combined with a tour of the church for visiting WI’s to help raise money for the church roof fund. A Murder Mystery evening with Inspector Ivor Notion, and a cookery and flower demonstration at Ashbourne.

Several of you have learnt how to play canasta, and we also paid a visit to the golf range at Coalville.

This is all in conjunction with our monthly meeting which have provided us with a wide range of excellent speakers Tai Chi, Behind the scenes at Birmingham Airport, a Forensic Scientist, and Farm House Cookery, to name but a few.

We have also had superb attendances at the monthly craft mornings, we have been to a Patchwork exhibition, and to a button making factory combined with a visit to the jewellery quarter in Birmingham. We have learnt many new crafts which have been either taught by visiting tutors or our own very talented members. We have given a £100 Bursary this year and the lucky winner was Marie, we look forward to her teaching us the new craft that she has learnt.

The monthly walking group is also very well supported, with walks in

Bradgate Park, Sutton Park, and Foremark as well as many other lovely walks

lead by very willing volunteers.

The membership is now 54 which includes 9 dual members and 5 new members who have joined over the past 18 months, and our average monthly attendance is 34.

Finally, it is only with the help and support of the Committee and you the members that Smisby WI is going from strength to strength and hopefully many of you have made new friends along the way.

This coming year will bring us new challenges to make Smisby WI the best it can be at inspiring you our members.