Members reports from WI events are published here:

WI Annual Conference

Annual National WI Meeting, 5 June 2004,
Royal Albert Hall

Delegate Report by Megan Martin, Belper WI

The theme of the meeting was No More Violence Against Women
Anne Jones, addressed the meeting for the last time, illuminating the progress made nationally, including 24,272 new members since the last meeting; new initiatives on inclusion, partnerships with other organisations, the Denman legacy – launch of the learning hub – grants to bid for for face to face local education and the launch of a WI Lottery in September.

More information regarding all of these will be available shortly.
The resolution “Dental Health Matters” was introduced and proposed by a representative from the Westmorland Federation, seconded by a representative from the Lancashire Federation and supported by their expert, the Chair of the British Dental Association . There was no expert speaker against the resolution, to provide balance.  Questions were asked from the floor, mainly regarding how the WI could add value to promoting the support of Dental Health Matters.
Voting the resolution was carried with a 95.53% majority after votes were cast in person and on line.
4578 for  v 214 against  
The morning speaker was Nazir Afzal, Chancellor of the University of Manchester, former Chief Prosecutor, who gave us insight into his start in life in a 2 bed house in Birmingham along with 5 siblings, to his involvement in several high profile cases, which eventually led him to become instrumental in changing the ways of authorities and thinking about dealing with abuse.

He received a standing ovation – apparently rare at the event!
The afternoon had two speaker events Victoria Derbyshire (broadcaster) shared the stage with Melanie Brown (Scary Spice) in an interview format giving us insight into the background of Melanie’s autobiography “Brutally Honest” detailing her ten year abusive marriage and the help she received from Women’Aid. She has now become a Patron of the charity. Of course, we also, dipped into her life as a Spice Girl.

Timothy Watson, aka Rob Tichner from The Archers, was joined on stage by Teresa Parker from Women’s Aid and a representative from the National Federation. Timothy gave us insight into playing the role of a coercive partner over a number of years, until his downfall at the hand of his victim. Teresa explained how Women’s Aid had advised the programme.

All speakers took questions from the floor and online.
The meeting opened and closed with the truly wonderful rendition of 4000 plus choir of members all totally in tune! (Well it sounded like it to me) singing Jerusalem (twice), Land of My Fathers and the National Anthem.

The next two annual meetings will be virtual due to the expense of a live event, so I felt truly privileged to attend on your behalf.

The Derbyshire Federation had a wonderful couple of days. Everything worked like clockwork on both days and we all arrived home late in the evening … worn out. A sign of a good time.

Thank you to all involved.

WI Annual National Meeting

Observer Report by Karen Boam, Belper WI

When observer tickets were advertised on The NFWI website for The WI Annual Meeting, which had such an amazing agenda, Lynne and I decided to travel to London by train to the Royal Albert Hall.
I had booked us into a hotel near Hyde Park which turned out to be perfect.
The next morning, we had a lovely stroll through Hyde Park, past Kensington Palace to The Royal Albert Hall.  It was our first visit and we were rather excited.
The day began at 10.30am and after singing Jerusalem the formalities began.
Below are a few facts and figures mentioned during the meeting.
  • Since the meeting last year the WI have gained 24272 new members (average 66 a day), which is the strongest recruitment in years !
  • The success of the virtual WIs with many more starting.  
  • There are now 7 WIs in women’s prisons. 
  • Involvement with PRIDE is flourishing. 
  • There has been a review of the constitution with new relaxed rules making it easier to run a WI group. 
  • With Denman Collage now gone we have new training resources with the learning hub which has approximately 54 new courses a month! 
  • A WI lottery will be launched on the 16th of September (more details to follow). 
  • The WI will continue to partner with Hobbycraft.
The first speaker was Nazir Afzal, Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Chair of the Catholic Church and a safeguarding patron of 9 charities.
He told us of his poor childhood, personal racism and of wanting to become a lawyer since he was young despite the many difficulties.

However, he followed his passion and has spent most of his career working on cases involving: Stalking, Forced Marriages, Modern Slavery and domestic abuse. Also, most importantly he changed the way in which the law system dealt with these cases.
He has worked on many well-known cases including Rochdale, and Baby P.   A report on nurses and midwives will come out in July that he has instigated.
A few facts from his talk:
  • 1 in 4 women suffer domestic abuse.
  • 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted.
  • 2 women are killed each week by men.
  • 10 women kill themselves each week because of men.
It was a very powerful speech and moved us all.  He received a standing ovation.
The 2nd speaker was Melanie Brown (Mel B of the Spice Girls) who was interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire.
She was brutally honest and told of her 10-year marriage, and how she suffered coercive, abuse from the start.  She eventually had the courage to leave for good. 
Her talk was very moving, yet at times very funny.  She is an entertaining and natural speaker, and we could have listened to her for hours.
 Mel has a petition through Women’s Aid she encouraged us to sign about family court judges.
The final speakers were Timothy Watson along with Teresa Parker from Women’s Aid.
Timothy Watson was an actor in The Archers, who over a period spanning many years played the part of an abusive partner whose controlling coercive behaviour steadily increased.  The script was written with advice from Womens Aid. 
Women’s aid celebrates 50 years this year and their work has helped save many lives, the discussion between the pair linked in perfectly with the previous two speakers.
The meeting concluded with the singing of Jerusalem, God save the King and the Welsh National Anthem by over 4000 women.  A most wonderful sound, the sun was shining, and we made our way home!
What a wonderful day.
Karen & Lynne