Chairman's Letter

February 2024

Well, the new year is up and running and Christmas has faded to a distant memory, it’s time to look forward and look for those early signs of spring. It’s, also the time for Federation subcommittees to start finalising plans for 2024 and from what I have heard we have a bumper year ahead for you! The subcommittee members are committed to bring you, our members, interesting events, that educate, entertain, keep fit and offer new experiences. They work incredibly hard and as a Federation we are so grateful to them.

Having attended a few events, I’m always struck by how much fun the sub-committee members are having on the day! Working as a team brings great rewards – friendship and a job well done! Many have already been on their own WI committees and know how rewarding it can be. I know it’s not for everyone and I’m often told that for some members it’s enough just to come out once a month, however, helping out at your own WI even if it’s just to make a cake every few months can make a huge difference and be a small step to becoming more involved.

So, if you think now is the time to help out either at your own WI or at Federation level give it a go! I know you won’t regret it and if you have already made that step then – Thank You – you’re a star!!

(If you are thinking about helping out at Federation level either on a sub-committee or even want to come along to see what we do at Trustee meetings you’re more than welcome to come along as an observer. Just contact the office at Ethel Hunt Lodge for more details and dates. Some of our meetings are now on Zoom!)

Take care,

Amanda

January 2024

Happy New Year everyone and I hope that you have all survived the festive period!

Well, 2024 is kicking off with a bang as far as the WI is concerned- the long-awaited roll out of the WI Learning Hub is happening and if you haven’t already done so please sign up to the new WI Learning Hub Newsletter to be kept up to date, weekly, with new courses, projects and activities. This will enable all members to have access to a range of online courses, the majority of which will be completely free! The Hub launches on January 24 for booking, with the first courses taking place from January 29. More details can be found in your November/December edition of WI Life.

I would also like to draw your attention to the Million Women Rise march to end male violence against women and girls which is taking place on Saturday 9 March. It’s a sad state of affairs that we even have to have this march but sadly violence of this nature is still very much with us and there aren’t many communities that haven’t been affected. Last year we had a small contingent from West Kent Federation but this year I would like us to attend in force! It’s easy to meet up before the march and there’s a great sense of sisterhood to be marching alongside each other in unity and solidarity. The NFWI Public Affairs team will be holding a pre meet with a panel discussion at a venue near the starting point, which gives you an opportunity to hear from expert speakers and engage in a Q&A session. If you are worried about coming on your own just drop me an email and we can arrange a meet up. So, please come and let’s all take a stand against such violence and champion a society that promotes equality, justice, and respect for all women and girls.

Take care

Amanda

December 2023

This December is a quiet one for the Federation as we have no events planned this year. This gives the office staff time to prepare for next year’s calendar and allows the Trustees more opportunities to attend Carol services and Christmas lunches across the Federation.

My own WI doesn’t have a meeting in December, but we still come together for a Christmas lunch and a pantomime, put on by the committee! For this I must thank the PALS committee for putting on a Pantomime workshop a few years ago- we are still using the scripts from there although some committee members may wish we weren’t!

Many families have traditions at Christmas – for some it’s going to the Pantomime, having a Christmas Day walk or watching a favourite film. In our family we go to  St Nicholas Church Tableau in Chislehurst. For me it’s the start of Christmas, we meet up with friends, sing carols and watch the Christmas story unfold before us. A small moment of calm after all the Festive preparations.   On behalf of the Trustees and the staff at  West Kent Federation I would like to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and I would like to leave you with this quote from one of my favourite books-

‘Christmas is a togethery sort of holiday. That's my favourite kind.’

A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Amanda

November 2023

Well, here we are in November, and I bet a lot of you have already started Christmas shopping and the planning that comes with it. I was amazed when a friend told me that she couldn’t get a Christmas delivery slot when she tried to book it in October! I always vow to start early with the presents but find no one will give me ideas as they ‘can’t think about Christmas now’! So, it will be the usual rush with a few weeks to go and hope I get the right thing.

I have been out and about recently, and it has reminded me of what it is to belong to the WI. Membership gives us great opportunities within our own WIs- interesting speakers, variety of clubs, trips to unusual places and of course meals out! On a wider scale we have Federation events like Annual Days, craft workshops, choir, sports, and Science Days- to name but a few. Along with all of this comes the friends we all make along the way and ensure a welcome wherever you are. I think the WI is unique in what it gives its members, and I would urge you all to take advantage of it. Sign up for your WI and Federation events and don’t forget there are NFWI and Denman opportunities too.

Enjoy your November West Kent News, there are lots of interesting items and you will also find out who is on the bill for at our next AGM in March!! I’m very excited by the programme we have put together for you all. After the success of the Archivists talk, I have renamed the morning speakers session ‘the WI Legends slot’! We will be offering WI members who have given great talks to WIs a bigger stage and I hope you are pleased with next years choice.

Amanda

October 2024

As I write this, we are enjoying that late summer of high temperatures that often coincides with a return to school, a reminder of the summer we never really had this year!

As usual it’s all go in the Breach household as we are having new fitted wardrobes in what were our boy’s bedrooms - now both have definitely left home the time was right! Of course, you must empty the rooms for the fitters and oh my word! I had no idea how much stuff we had accumulated in the cupboards! I’m now going through it all trying not to be sentimental over every card or toy and I haven’t even started on the clothes yet!! Hopefully at the end of it all we will have less in the house and the local Charity shops more to sell!

It's certainly back to business for the Federation- and with Annual days, Workshops, and Choir our sub committee members have been kept very busy. So, I would like to thank all the members that volunteer for roles in the Federation be it on a subcommittee, as Archivists, WI Advisers or Trustees. Every one of us is a volunteer giving up our time and without whom the Federation would be unable to function.

Thank you all so much!

Amanda

September 2024

I’m sure some of you might be wondering if my holiday with the family was less exciting than last year and thankfully it was! Miraculously the weather in Brancaster was much better than at home where it rained every day. Everyone “played nicely” (a favourite phrase of my mother-in-law!) and even the dog behaved himself! One of the highlights was Ivy (7 months old) enjoying her first breakfast porridge and not throwing it all over the place! But enough of this lets move on…

September is here and with it comes a sense of a new year and a fresh start, which I’m sure comes from the new school year starting – that feeling never leaves you!

We are kicking off September with a bang – Arts and Craft have 2 Annual Days and 5 Watercolour workshops, then PALS are putting on a Handbell workshop, the Federation choir restarts, and we finish with the ACWW afternoon tea- Phew!! Something for everyone I’m sure you would agree. Information for all these or any Federation activities are in the West Kent News and if you have trouble seeing it online please ask your WI for details.

I read a comment from one of our WIs on Facebook recently that the Federation had disbanded all the Districts – as I’m sure you all know National decided to revamp the Districts, call them Groups and make the organising WI responsible for the money side of any events. Many Groups still exist but there is nothing stopping a WI either joining another Group (which may be a geographically nearer WI- please just let Federation know!) or simply invite other WIs to an event. Catford WI are already doing this and have brought together local WIs for a Darts evening and now have a Treasure Hunt on the London Underground in October. It may be that some WIs are already doing this, if so let us know!

Have a good September everyone and if you see me please come and say hello!

Take care

Amanda

August 2023

Well, August is here at last and as I’m writing this in early July, I hope the sun is shining! Of course, August also means that the roads are quieter, the shops a bit busier and many of you, with Grandchildren, will be pressed into service to hold the fort looking after them while the schools are off! We will be in Norfolk on our family holiday which, this year, includes a seven-month-old baby and a dog in addition to the three grandsons (three, five, and eight) and their parents! Hopefully everyone will remain calm, and we won’t have a repeat of last year when we had been in the holiday house for 30 minutes when Felix (then four) slipped and had a nasty cut on his forehead! Quick dash to A&E at Kings Lynn and four hours later we started our holiday again!! Needless to say, the rest of the family had gone out for a meal and had a great time. On the way back, of course Felix was bouncing around and hungry so we drove to a drive thru MacDonalds and he was shocked that Grandma had never been to a drive thru before!! So I can now tick that one of my bucket list !!

Now, if you want to try something new (see how I seamlessly did this!) we have some great things coming up in September for you! You might even say its action packed with all our wonderful subcommittees working hard to bring you fantastic events.

So, have a great August everyone and I hope to see you at the various Annual Days!

Take care,

Amanda

July 2023

As I write this in early June summer seems to have arrived. My first taste of sunshine was in Cardiff back in May when I was attending the NFWI Annual Meeting.

Temperatures were hitting 24 degrees and as always happens, not many of us had the right clothes!! It was a great occasion and as always, it’s the meeting up of friends from other Federations which adds to it. The speakers were good and as a great supporter of all sports I was particularly interested to hear from such inspirational women who had excelled in their field. The resolution was passed but not before some lively debate. A short report of the Annual Meeting from one of our Federation delegates can be read below right. A full report being supplied by your Delegate.

Thanks to all of you who send in articles and pictures for the WKN, its always interesting to see what you are all up to ! I notice the NFWI membership team have recently put out this request

WI Summer events

  • The NFWI Membership team are interested in finding out if any of your WIs over the summer are planning any interesting or exciting events? If so, we would love to know about them so please get in touch!
  • We are always keen to know what WIs are getting up to and we know that a lot of WIs over the summer months get involved in a variety of different events and parties. It would be great as a team to visit a few of these events over the summer where possible and with the WI’s permission, potentially arrange for a photographer to attend. We always love getting photographs at WI events as they are a brilliant way for us to showcase and highlight across our social media, publications and within WI Life etc. how wonderful the organisation is. Of course, any professional photographs taken will be shared with the WI in question.

I look forward to seeing a takeover of NFWI social media and publications by West Kent!!

Take care,

Amanda

June 2023

After such a busy month of May with Bank holiday visits from family followed by Coronation celebrations and then the NFWI AGM in Cardiff, June promises to be a bit quieter! It is also the start of a new WI year after the Annual Meetings and for many of you a beginning of your role on a WI committee. I would like to say ‘thank you’ to those members that are continuing in your roles for another year and welcome to new committee members. Without you our WIs would not exist and flourish the way they do! We have training sessions both in person at Ethel Hunt Lodge and on zoom for you all – please book up as dates become available. We can also put you in touch with other members if you need more one to one support. All the roles can seem daunting, and I know I found the support of another WI President when I took on the role of founding President of Petts Wood WI a great help. I was forever grateful. At Petts Wood we have a sub committee for events which brings in members who don’t want to be on the full committee but also shares the roles out, therefore avoiding over burdening one person. Even the 3 major roles can be shared- the Treasurer can have an assistant (as we do on the Board of Trustees) and it takes away the pressure and I think makes the role more manageable.

We mustn’t forget those committee members who have stood down this year- I’m sure you have had many thanks from your own WIs, but I would like to say how grateful The Federation has been for your service. Never be in doubt how much we have appreciated the work you have done, and I hope you can now sit back and enjoy being a member of your WI.

Now I have some news for your diaries!!

Next year’s AGM will be on Monday March 25. I know that there was some criticism of the Federation for always booking a weekday but to have the AGM on a Saturday would double the hire cost of the Hall which would be far too expensive I’m afraid. As a Federation we are holding more events on a Saturday to make them more accessible to our members.

As to who I’m booking well you will have to wait and see…

Have a wonderful month- there is loads to read in this month’s copy of WKN and some great Federation events coming up. So get those diaries out and get your ticket requests into your WI!

Take care,

AMANDA

May 2023

Well, it seems strange to be writing about something that happened in March but my April piece was written before the AGM and I just can’t let it pass without a mention! What a fabulous occasion – only a couple of glitches (hopefully none of you noticed!) and the rest of the day was seamless. The Archivists were as interesting as I knew Sheila and Chris would be, the choir – amazing, considering we have only been together since last September and many have never performed before. Singing together has such a ‘feel good’ factor and I really hope that many of you choose to join us. You don’t have to be a ‘singer’ and no one is ever asked to sing solo! You just have to enjoy the act of singing in a group.

The day’s main speaker the Reverend Kate Bottley was terrific but don’t let me tell you, here are a few quotes from the many lovely emails I have received-
‘A perfect end to the day’, ‘deliciously hilarious’, ‘big personality and what an inspirational speaker!’ ‘added joy and laughter’, ‘people were crying with laughter!’.
How will I follow that, well you will have to wait and see!!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

April 2023

After what seemed a slow start to spring, I’m hoping that as you read this, we really are into one of my favourite seasons. During lockdown I started a little vegetable plot and I’m now the proud owner of a potting shed and love nothing more than spending time looking after my seedlings and watching them grow. Both my parents were big gardeners and fresh vegetables were something we just took for granted (though the digging up and cleaning were not!). However, the sheer sense of achievement you get from just popping into the garden and picking your own lettuce is something else!! I know many of you will be rolling your eyes at my enthusiasm but remember I am very new to it all!

As April marks a new year at our Federation a bit like my seedlings I think I am now growing into my role as your Chair. The Federation year never stops and as you can imagine you hit the ground running and at times, I have felt like I was playing catch up! But in my second year and going forward the aim of the Federation is to increase our membership which has fallen considerably over the last few years. Obviously Covid had a big effect on many WIs with members not returning after the lockdown. We are also suspending WIs due to a lack of officers, and this is something we really need to address as a Federation. To suspend a WI with over 30 members just because they can’t find a volunteer to be either the President, Secretary or Treasurer seems wrong and I shall be asking the WI Advisers what more we can do to make these roles easier for members to take on, be it more training, buddying up with another WI or even a Whats App support for the particular role. We do have a few of these things already in place but seems its just not enough.

Recruitment can also be a problem for many WIs and as a Federation we have ordered leaflets etc. from National which we can send you and we are also happy to advise any WIs who wish to try Facebook or other social media outlets.

I know that I have many very successful WIs out there and would love to learn about the ways you increased your membership and filled some of those key roles on the committee. Please email me on chair@wkfed.org.uk and together we can support each other!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

March 2023

Well, its nearly here (and I don’t mean Spring!)! It seems like the AGM has been in the planning stages for such a long time but finally March is here, and I will need to get down to writing my opening address!

I’m looking forward to meeting up with you all and hope that everyone enjoys the day. We have a great day planned for you.

I can’t believe my first year is already nearly up, I think looking back the first few months were a very steep learning curve and everyone in the office was very kind and patient as I asked what must have seemed like a million questions!! I’m sure I made mistakes but as they say ’every day is a school day” and I’m certainly still learning!

Sadly, the Trustees and West Kent Federation will be saying farewell to Caroline Davis, as she steps down from her role of Federation Vice Chairman and Trustee. Caroline has been a rock- especially to me in my first year. She also has a great knowledge of WI constitutions and rules and will be greatly missed by everyone. We all wish her well in her ‘retirement’.

However, we welcome a new Trustee- Jeannette Smith from Walderslade WI. You will have found out more about Jeannette in last month’s 60 seconds with… Do come and say hello if you are coming to the Assembly Hall, it will calm my nerves as I prepare for my first AGM.

So, grab a cup of tea and enjoy reading your West Kent News! Its packed full of activities so, don’t forget your diary!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

February 2023

Well, we are well into 2023 now and I hope its going successfully for you all.

I was so pleased and proud to see that Michelle Gordon and Alison Peek were awarded OBEs in the New Year Honours list for their work in setting up the WI Wanderers, a virtual WI that kept so many of us going over lock down and continues to offer a huge range of virtual events. Many of you may remember Michelle’s talk to us at last year’s AGM.

February is Show the Love month and I’m sure that many WIs have the Green Heart initiative as an annual event in your WI programme. Let’s all wear our Green Hearts with pride and remind our MPs that there is still work to be done to tackle the climate crisis and protect our environment from its worst impacts.

March is AGM month, and we are all looking forward to welcoming you to the Assembly Halls. We have a great day planned – to avoid any problems with postal strikes and late applications etc, the Trustees have taken the decision to release all the tickets for this event in one go. Tickets must be ordered through your WI organiser. You can order as many tickets as you need but please note if we are oversubscribed there will be a ballot. As always tickets are non-returnable and non-refundable!!

Don’t forget we also have coming up our Machine Embroidery days and April brings our Lifestyle Annual Daymore details in this edition of West Kent News.

These are our Federation events, but I would also like to draw your attention to an event on Saturday 4 March when the NFWI Public Affairs team will be hosting a pre-meet and panel discussion before joining the Million Women Rise march taking place in London. You will hear from expert speakers on the issue of violence against women, which will be followed by a Q&A session where you will have the chance to ask the speakers your questions. If you are interested in attending pre-meet and/or the march you can register an interest via the WI website.

The NFWI Public Affairs team would like to invite members to create musical instruments to bring to the march to create a cacophony of noise, supporting victims and survivors of violence against women.

I have already registered and would love to see members from West Kent Federation take part. If you do register, please let me know and together we can march and show our support for all women who are victims of violence.

Well, that’s it from me for this month- enjoy reading about all the amazing things our WI’s have been doing and I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

January 2023

The Federation Carols at Christmas was a great success, and the feedback was very positive. Many thanks to all of you that attended.

Now that we have finished up the leftovers and the decorations have been put away for another year, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are now rested and ready for an action packed 2023!!

We have so many exciting events for you this year- The Federation really is back after a period of uncertainty. Keep a look out for dates in the Federation calendar so you can plan your own WI events with us in mind.

The Federation choir starts up again this month and I would encourage all of you to join. Singing together is so good for your mental health and well-being it should be on prescription! Everyone leaves a choir session with a smile and a spring in their step- go on give it a go!! Book through your WI.

Along with the WI Advisors look out for a visit from your Federation Trustees this year. However, don’t panic-it’s not an inspection!! The aim is to get out to WIs and explain what it is the Trustees and Advisors do and how we all fit into what is the country’s largest voluntary women’s organisation!

Now is the time to look forward to a new year, new challenges, and lots of fun! After all we do all belong to the WI!!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

December 2022

Well, Christmas is nearly here and already lists and plans are being made. Here at Federation, we are all looking forward to our Carols at Christmas at All Saints on December 7 and I hope to see many of you there resplendent in your Christmas jumpers ready to raise the roof with joyous singing!

I know that many of you have your own Carol services and lunches this month and I wish you well with all of them.

This year has been a different one for our family as my mum is now in a nursing home, so our Christmas will involve visiting her as she spends her first Christmas away from her home. When mum moved, we took on her elderly cat Gladstone (a very spritely 17-year-old tabby!) and from what I can remember he loves a Christmas Tree, especially the baubles, so I will be giving their placement a bit of thought this year! I will let you know how we get on!

One of the things I do at the start of December is look out my favourite Christmas films to watch during the month. It’s a mix of old and new and are perfect for those dark evenings. So, I thought I would share with you a few and who knows they may become your favourites too!

Polar Express, White Christmas, Nativity 1&2, Robbie the Reindeer, The Holly and the Ivy, It’s a Wonderful Life (well, you have to include this one don’t you?).

Let me know what your favourite films are?

I would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas and to thank you all for the support you have shown the Federation staff, Trustees and Advisors over the year.

Merry Christmas from West Kent Federation and enjoy reading your West Kent News.

Take care,

Amanda Breach

November 2022

It is said that as you get older the months seem to pass more quickly and I’m certainly feeling that this year! Here we are November already, nights drawing in and the question – ‘what do you want for Christmas’, is already being spoken of in our family! I hope you have booked up for your Christmas workshops and Zoom in preparation!!

I know many WIs hold their own Christmas events in December both individually and as a Group but don’t forget your Federation family!

Federation Carols at All Saints, Maidstone is a great way to kick start the Christmas month and this year we are joined by our own Federation choir! I have joined the choir (the Orpington branch!) and I had forgotten how great singing with others is. I’m looking forward to joining up with the Southborough branch for All Saints! As well as carols, poems and readings there will also be an opportunity to see what the different Federation sub committees do plus see how you might get involved!

I have also been out and about along with my other Trustees and always enjoy meeting up with members. Some of us were invited to the Nasir Mosque in Gillingham to celebrate the Centenary of the Ahmadiyya Muslin Women’s Association. We all had a wonderful time and were made very welcome.

So, snuggle up with a mug of something warming and read all about the amazing things happening in our Federation and don’t forget to make a note of the events you want to take part in and let your WI know!!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

October 2022

By the time you all read this article the Queen’s funeral would have happened though I’m sure the memory will live on.

I went up to Green Park to lay flowers on behalf of our Federation and was moved by the heart felt messages from young and old, the Paddington Bears and scent of so many beautiful flowers! I have only known one monarch and the world feels a very different place now she has gone but I’m sure King Charles III, with Camilla Queen Consort by his side, will continue to serve the country as his mother did.

In your West Kent News this month are details for all our forthcoming Federation events. You will also notice a few Zoom events as we move into darker evenings. I’m sure you will find something for everyone.

I leave you with photos from Green Park memorial flower garden.

Take care,

Amanda Breach

September 2022

Well, I hope you have all had a wonderful summer. I was lucky enough to be invited to visit some WIs for birthday celebrations or a summer get together. Every event reminded me of why I belong to the WI- there was friendship, fun, a great sense of belonging and a desire to look forward to the future after a few years of such uncertainty. I also attended the Women in Politics Day and took part in the Rochester Photo Trail. Congratulations to both PA&I and PALS committees for such well-run and interesting events.

So, I hope you are all ready for an action -packed September! We have watercolour workshops. Speakers Auditions, Great Big Green Week, a Green Team zoom from Caroline Arnold on Bore Place and two Arts and Craft Annual Days!

If that wasn’t enough, we are starting up the Federation Choir and don’t forget 16 September is WI Day. Wow! The Federation also has some exciting news about the AGM in Tunbridge Wells and details about the Christmas visit to All Saints in December, but you will have to read your West Kent News to find out!!

Take care

Amanda Breach

August 2022

So here we are in August at last. As a retired teacher August was always the month of rest and recuperation - a whole month of no children, lesson planning and marking! Absolute bliss!!

I know that many WIs don’t have meetings in August or if they do they are outside and more social. So, I hope that you all enjoy a more relaxed month.

I have been out and about at the Platinum Tea Party, Darts Final, Water Sports Day at Mote Park, and the Women in Politics Day. All great events organised by the Federation. I must give a special thank you to all the members who made leaves for our bunting at the tea party—they were beautiful and will be displayed at the AGM in March for all to see.

I know that many of you feel that we should be booking events at different ends of the Federation and on Saturdays and we are trying! However, as members in the London area know halls are difficult to find and can be very expensive - Saturdays especially. You will notice more being offered in the Orpington area, which has very good rail links. But it is hard to find places. If you know of any good halls, please let us know as you can’t beat local knowledge!

We have 2 great Arts and Crafts Annual Days coming up in September, along with Great Big Green Week (24 Sept — 2 October), the formation of our new Federation Choir and of course WI Day on 16 September. A great opportunity to get out and shout about the WI and what we all love about it!

So, have a restful August everyone and be ready for an action-packed September!

Take care

Amanda Breach

July 2022

Hello everyone!

In the new recruitment flyer for the WI is this statement Our members include women of all ages, and we are first and foremost a place of friendship.

Having just returned from the Annual Meeting in Liverpool, I feel there was never a truer statement! We met women from all over the country all with a smile and a “what WI are you from?” question. The WI was the common thread that ran through us all and created this wonderful extended family.

My proudest moment was definitely the overwhelming support from conference for the resolution about Women and Girls with ASD & ADHD Under-identified, Under-diagnosed, Misdiagnosed, Under- Supported. Alison Long, who proposed the resolution is a member of Honor Oak WI ( in West Kent Federation) . Alison and her seconder Rebecca Chauhan spoke with a passion and the experts, both for and against, gave us all food for thought. There were many insightful questions asked by the members on the floor. The resolution was carried by a 96%vote. It was lovely to see so many members congratulating Alison and Rebecca, many with their own personal stories. We now wait for the campaign booklet so we can play our own part in raising this issue both locally and on a national level.

There is a wonderful phrase ‘every day is a school day’, and I’m a great believer that you never stop learning, be it a new skill or an interesting fact! Our Federation Days give you that opportunity with activities such as paddle-boarding, water-colour painting, hearing from expert speakers on a variety of topics, singing, fun orienteering photo trails and learning about Green issues, to name just a few! If there is something that you think would interest fellow members do let us know. We are always open to new ideas!

Have a lovely July everyone and enjoy reading your West Kent News!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

June 2022

Hello everyone!

June is here at last and with it comes the Platinum Jubilee celebrations that have been in the planning stage for so long. Where I live in Petts Wood, we have a Big Lunch Street party every year, but this one is extra special as there will be so many others in our local area.

I’m sure your WI will be planning something very special to celebrate what really is a ‘once in a lifetime’ event. Have you knitted a Winnie or maybe planted a tree to celebrate? Don’t forget to let West Kent News know and send us photos!!

June is also the NFWI Annual Meeting in Liverpool- the first face to face AM for 2 years but with the added opportunity for members to join in virtually, which has got to be a great step forward in giving all members the chance to attend no matter where they live. We will be supporting Honor Oak WI who have proposed this year’s resolution for adoption.

I was reminded at the Lifestyle Day how important volunteers are to the WI. The whole day is run by volunteers – people who are willing to give up their time to help and provide a brilliant day for our members. Everyone on your committee, in your sub committees, serving as Federation Trustees and Advisers is a volunteer. Sometimes it can be quite hard but it’s always rewarding and fun. Working alongside others and meeting new people is really what the WI is all about when you think about it! I can hear you asking, “why are you talking about volunteers, Amanda?” – that’s because June is also Volunteer month. So, why not take this opportunity to thank the volunteers within your WI and even think about joining this very important band of people, both locally and at Federation level.

Have a wonderful Celebration weekend and I hope to see many of you at our own Federation Platinum Tea Party!!

Take care

Amanda Breach

May 2022

Hello everyone!

I’m hoping that you will all be reading this with a glass of something in hand and in a sunny spot either indoors or outside! The truth maybe very different of course, as I’m writing this it’s a cold and rainy April day, which after the wonderful few days we had in March of sunshine and high temperatures feels a bit cruel! The AGM at Tunbridge Wells was a wonderful occasion with great speakers and opportunities to meet up with members once again. It was especially good to see so many of you stop by at our committee tables and see what it is we all do!

I managed to get through the Future Plans despite the ‘power point disco!’ behind me (a great description from our main speaker Michelle Gordan) and yes, Keeley and I did practice before the meeting but these things do happen and usually to me!

I recently had a fascinating morning with our wonderful Archivists Chris Klempau and Sheila Harris. They took me through the beautiful banners, tablecloths, embroidery samples and scrapbooks that the Federation have collected over the years. Both Chris and Sheila have such a great knowledge and enthusiasm for their role that it’s good to know our most precious items are safe in their hands!

As they left Chris and Sheila gave me 2 copies of ‘Home and County’ to read- both from 1940. It was interesting to see that there was very much a message of reusing and recycling  items brought on by wartime shortages, that isn’t too far from our Climate Change message of today. There was also an article on ‘Chairmanship’ by Margaret Hitchcock Chairman NFWI Organisation Sub Committee in which she writes about the “Little Worries’! I have read it and am taking on board this bit of advice-

During a busy meeting members grow mentally tired. The wise Chairman will suggest 5 minutes (not more) relaxation. Work will proceed much more quickly afterwards.

Take care,

Amanda  Breach

April 2022

Hello everyone!

My first piece for the West Kent News as Chairman is going to be a ‘thank you’ one. I hope you don’t mind!

I feel very honoured to have been voted in as Chairman by my fellow Trustees, the Federation is very lucky to have such a hard-working Board of Trustees and WI Advisers.

This year it was decided to hold the vote for Federation Chairman and Treasurer before the AGM in March to allow for some handover time before the outgoing officers run out of the door! This has been invaluable and my second thank you goes to Jane Backshall, who has been so very generous with her time taking me through the role of Chairman. There maybe a few glitches on the way but I feel ready for the challenge and hope to serve all in West Kent Federation as best I can.

I look forward to meeting up with you all at future Federation events for a chat!

Take care,

Amanda Breach

March 2022

Hello Everyone

Well here is my last letter to you as your Chairman. I cannot believe it is three years since I replaced Annette Smith, a hard act to follow. I have done my best throughout the Covid Pandemic to keep in touch with you but I have missed the face to face meetings. I am so pleased that now we can meet again and hoped all those that went to the ACWW fund raising tea enjoyed it.

I cannot thank you enough for all the support you have given me as Chairman and I hope you will carry on with the next one. Not only am I standing down, Gillian Neville has reached the end of her term of office as Treasurer too. I wish to thank her for all her hard work in managing our money over these unusual times. Not only Gill has helped me, there are many behind the scenes, Miz, Alan and Keeley in the office your link with Federation. Then there are all the Trustees who have supported me so well, I owe them a big thank you, not forgetting all those who sit on our Committees and bring you good entertainment, education and fun.

There is so much planned for the coming year, take look inside the West Kent News which I think gets better and better every month.

Goodbye and best wishes,

Jane Backshall

February 2022

Hello Everyone

I am writing this on a gorgeous day towards the end of January. The sun is shining, the air is very still and my bulbs are popping up everywhere.

I do believe we are turning a corner not only with signs that spring may be on the way but with Covid too.

I wish to share some news with you. At the January Trustees’ Board Meeting Diane Daniels from South Park WI was co-opted onto as a Trustee and Lucy Marshall from Halling Sapphires WI made an Assistant to the Board- congratulations to them both.

There is a lot to look forward to in the Federation diary with Annual Days booked and many activities organised for later in the year.

I do hope you all feel positive about this year. As we look forward to our own Federation AGM I hope many of you will travel to Tunbridge Wells to listen to our Speakers, see in person the new NFWI Chairman and help us celebrate the fact we are meeting in in the flesh, we have moved the ticket closing date to 4 MARCH to allow you more time to order a ticket. As those that have been before to our AGM will know the Assembly Hall has plenty of room to spread about. The Government guidelines can change before our meeting and maybe all the restriction will be in the past!

Do not forget to check out the Zoom meetings either from us or National—there may be something of interest for you there if you are not able to go to your own local WI. For instance our BRAND NEW Virtual WI is almost up and running it has a coffee morning every Monday @ 10am do try it. Please contact the Office if you wish to join in!

I will sign off now - take care,

Jane Backshall

January 2022

Hello,

I would like to start by wishing you all a VERY HAPPY, BRIGHTER NEW YEAR.

Thank you for all the Christmas cards you have sent to us, they have brightened up the office nicely.

Thank you also to all those who came to our Celebration at All Saints Church before Christmas - it was wonderful to see you.

I do hope you were able to spend Christmas with your families and friends, as I write this I do not know whether we will be “locked down” in the New Year.

I cannot believe how resilient, ingenious and committed you have all been. Thank you. As time goes by we have gathered new members, one new WI, another on the way and lots of enthusiasm. I cannot believe how “busy” some WIs have been in the past eighteen months. Unfortunately, some WIs have closed mainly due to the fact that nobody wishes to take on the leading roles.

I do worry about those WIs who do not have access to Computers, as NFWI have said they are not sending hard copies out except special publications, so I wish you to know the Office will always try to help those WIs - all you need to do is call us. I wish for our Federation to be as diverse as possible and embrace change for the good, however uncomfortable that maybe.

I only hope that after nearly two years of “lock down” we shall make a sprint into the New Year.

I hope to see many of you at our AGM on 21 March 2022 at Royal Tunbridge Wells. Let’s make it a great meeting.

Stay safe,

Jane Backshall

December 2021

Dear Ladies,

Well, here we are at the end of a tumultuous year, but I think the way ahead is looking brighter!

I have been out visiting WIs again, how normal that feels. I had a tasty afternoon tea at Chelsfield Afternoon WI to help them start their 102nd year. At the other end of the County, I visited Yalding and Laddingford and learnt how to make candles. It is great to see they have over 40 members having just reformed. Then this week I went to The Ladies of the Manor at Chart Sutton a delightful group of young and not so young who listened to a talk by Carol Gupwell of her journey in the WI which led to her becoming a WI Adviser.

I am really looking forward to meeting you at All Saints Church in Maidstone. I cannot believe it will be three years since we were last there. So much has happened since we last met - I have learnt not to take anything for granted.

So, if we are going to celebrate Christmas, then let us celebrate it. Not just in a personal way, but in the light of the pandemic, let us remember others.

See you in the New Year, Happy Christmas and wishing a Better New Year to you and your families.

Jane

November 2021

Dear Everyone,

What a month we have just had with so much going on in the WIs and at Federation level.

It is so good to hear that you have started real live meetings again even if you have to sit in a hall with the doors and windows open and your hats and coats on. Did you know we have a NEW WI - Yalding and Laddingford? Congratulations to them.

I was sorry to miss the two Art and Craft Days at Ditton, as I had the chesty cold that is doing the rounds, but I hear they were a great success.

As you know from the WKN we have both Whist and a Murder Mystery coming up, they are being very well supported but tickets are still available, thank you.

Do not forget WALKING NETBALL is up and walking again, just ring the Office or Gill Brown for details.

That takes us up to 8 December 2021 and our CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION at All Saints Church Maidstone. Please come and be a part of our celebration, we would like to hear from YOU about how you managed during the Lockdown, please send your thoughts to the Office. As some of you know it is a very large Church so there will be plenty of room for us to spread out. Let us see off 2021 and start afresh in the New Year.

Lately, we have had observers to our Trustee Meetings and we are always looking for members to join us either as Trustees, WI Advisers, or as a member of our various Teams, again just ring or email the office for information. We are always looking for help large or small in the Federation. Without willing Volunteers holding these roles, there would not be the activities that we offer.

Well here’s to a good November I do hope to see some of you soon.

Yours in friendship,

Jane Backshall

October 2021

Dear Ladies,

When you read this we will be at the start of Winter, but we all have a lot to look forward to.

I am most pleased to hear of so many of our WIs meeting again and that so many of the members have re-joined this year. Can I remind you that the NEW CONSTITUTION AND RULES FOR WOMEN’S INSTITUTES which you can see on line or as a hard copy needs to be signed at the back by each President and Secretary.

Have you booked any of our Zoom meetings? There are several coming up very soon some are free some you have to pay for (the Speakers can be quite expensive). Then there are our in “person” meetings over the winter. We have the Art/Craft on October 6/7, Whist November 2/4, Murder Mystery November 19, A Celebration at All Saints Church Maidstone December 8 in the afternoon and finally the AGM at Royal Tunbridge Wells March 21. I do hope to see some of you at these events. All the information about these meeting are in the West Kent News, West Kent Federation Web Site, FaceBook etc.

Don’t forget Ladies to try the NEW booking system any problem contact the office and I am sure they will be able to help you, we are trying to do our bit to save the planet by doing away with some paper but I would like to reassure those who are not keen on computers we are here to help.

Thank you to those of you that have been coming to the office for training, it was good to see you and gave the building a real buzz and I hear you all learnt something new, we did, how to use the projector with the laptop!

I have been out and about again keep sending in your kind invites to your meetings it is good to see you after such a long break.

Best wishes,

Jane Backshall

September 2021

Dear Ladies,

I am writing this very early in August so I hope everything goes to plan with the rest of opening up after lockdown!

I have started seeing WIs in the flesh so to speak, it is great to be able to talk to you. I hear many WIs are now meeting or plan to do so in September. Thank you also to the WIs who have sent in their Subs - very gratefully received.

Now I have been hearing that some WIs have been “bullying” the WI Advisers when they attend a WI to help with their AGM. Please be kind to the WIAs - they, like the Trustees, are VOLUNTEERS who do the job because they like it not because they are paid. Later on in the WKN, I have written an article regarding who does what at Ethel Hunt Lodge. I think you will be amazed how many Ladies give up their time to help the West Kent Federation to run. If there are Ladies out there that would like to help us in any shape or form contact me through the Office we would be very grateful.

How have you spent the summer? We would like to hear. In the past two weeks, I am afraid most of my spare time has been used to watch the Olympics. As a family, we are mad about most forms of sport.

By the time you read this, I would hope we have a new phone system in place at EHL so please bear with us if there is trouble getting through to start with. We are having a new entry door system put in as we were not happy with the staff working there, sometimes on their own. So we are moving out of the ark into the 21st century!

Best wishes

Jane Backshall

August 2021

Hello ladies,

Well, here we are already in August and thinking of Autumn….have you seen what we have to offer you in the months ahead? The Teams have been very busy planning various events so I hope there is something for everyone.

Now the restrictions have eased I shall still be very careful where I go and if I am not happy I will continue to wear my mask. I hope that you are now able to get out and meet up with fellow members.

We are now starting to plan our event at All Saints Church, Maidstone on 8 December. I do hope that YOU will be able to join us. We have arranged to use the Methodist Church Hall again so you will be able to sit in the warm and dry to eat your lunch but we will not be able to offer you any drinks this time. Of course, the toilets will be open!

Talking about the future, Monday 21 March 2022 is the date to keep free for our AGM which is once again being held at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells. Not only will the new National Chairman, Ann Jones, be joining us but also Nick Hall from Bentley’s Antiques (you must have seen him on TV) and Michele Gordon from the WI Wanderers.

Don’t forget, as we open up to live talks and activities, we shall continue to put on Zoom talks so check with your WI what is available (they will have been advised in the WI Mail Box).

Finally, I just wish to mention that in the coming months we are trying a new way of ticket ordering so please be patient with us.

Enjoy the summer!

Jane Backshall

July 2021

Hello Ladies,

I hope life is getting a little easier for you all now the better weather is here and we can meet in open spaces.

There is a lot going on at the office, I hope you like the front page of the News Letter!  Our new member of staff Keeley is dragging us into the 21st century with a new look Facebook page and a new look Web site have you seen them?  Keeley works Tuesday through to Friday the same as Miz our Office Manager if you wish to speak to her.

Thank you for sending in us information and pictures for the WKNs keep it up we like to know what you have been up to and I am sure other Wis like to see too.

Have you noticed the New Name for Home Economics – LIFESTYLE- much more modern don’t you think.

Now about information some of you have told us we send out too much to your mailbox.  Most of what we send you comes from National so we are obliged to pass it on ASAP.  But we have decided to trial just sending information out on a Friday UNLESS it is on a time limit.  Let us know what you think please.

Have you heard of digital Voice?  Well Derek and I have!  We have been digitalised by BT with our phones and no longer have any cable.  We did not ask to be done it just happened well its coming to the office so there are going to be changes with our phones and computers, watch this space!  One good thing we will be able to tell when people ring up using the answer phone and we will be able to record all conversations on the phone because believe it or not sometime people can be rude.

In spite of the setbacks in reopening the country we still hope to get going sooner than later so please look on the WKNs for Dates.

One event not mention because we do not have a confirmed date is a Zoom Meeting free to members about Breast Care in West Kent featuring one of the Breast Care Nurses from The Peggy Wood Unit at Maidstone Hospital.  This will be in October which is Breast Care month I do hope you will be able to watch.

We would be delighted to see anyone who is passing the office so long as you have a mask, so please call in.

Jane

June 2021

Hello Ladies,

Well by the time you read this we will be able to meet up in open spaces! In fact, yesterday I attended the first Federation event for over a year in person. A walk around the footpaths near Hopehill Scout Camp in Meopham. It was great to see Ladies out enjoying the day even though it rained.

NOW I HAVE SOME BREAKING NEWS we have booked our main speaker for 21 MARCH 2022!

NICK HALL from Bentley Auctioneers at Cranbrook, I am sure many of you have seen him on the Antiques Road Show and Bargain Hunt. I do hope YOU will be able to come to Tunbridge Wells to see him.

Have you seen our new look Website - just google West Kent Federation and have a look. Not forgetting the West Kent News. I loved the cover last month.

Are you hoping to go away in the Summer? If not, West Kent are putting on some outdoor activities, watch out in the West Kent News and in the Mail Boxes for information.

Finally, on behalf of the Federation, I wish to say Happy Birthday to our Queen Elizabeth II on her official birthday 12 June.

I am looking forward to seeing some of you at the events planned for this summer.

Jane Backshall

May 2021

Dear ladies,

Here we are in May and almost free. I do hope that, like me, you are looking forward to meeting up with your WI Friends. The Trustees and I would like to join you at your meetings when we are allowed to gather either inside or out. If you are having a gathering in the open let the Office know and we will try and join you to say hello. I cannot believe it is over a year since I have been to a meeting.

The Trustees and WI Advisers are still meeting by Zoom which is very good but not the same as in person, which I hope we shall be able to do soon.

I think the WKN is looking very good, of course, that is thanks to you for sending in interesting items and photos. Some of you certainly do a lot each month to keep in touch.

As I put on Facebook, the office is back to normal times now. Keeley our newbie has settled in well. I expect some of you have spoken to her on the phone. If for any reason you would like to come into the office, please ring first. We do have some Rapid Tests as well as sanitiser etc.

We have had some calls regarding meeting up as a WI. All I can say is, listen to the Government, look at their Road Map and check your Risk Assessment for the Assembly hall you use as a WI is up to date with all the new rules. If in any doubt ring or email the office for advice.

By the time you read this, I hope we will have booked the Assembly Hall in Tunbridge Wells for next year’s Annual General Meeting in March. What joy it will be to be able to get together.

I will stop now with a thought why not ring someone you know who is alone for a chat. I have never seen the Queen looking so alone as at the funeral of Prince Phillip. I am sure you are all with me when I say Happy Birthday Ma'am to her just to show we are all thinking of her.

Yours in friendship,

Jane Backshall

April 2021

Dear ladies,

Well, here we are on 18 March 2021. A whole year has passed since we were allowed to meet. BUT I think there is a light on at the end of the tunnel. As you know we have had our AGM not too much to report about BUT we have planned some events for this year. To start us off there is the walk at Hopehill on 19 May, do come if only to say Hello - it’s free to all members.

We are hoping to hold a gathering in All Saint’s Church in Maidstone in December, fingers crossed.

There are other events happening too ART and CRAFT and HOME ECONOMICS are staging “Days” in the Autumn keep looking in the West Kent News. And of course, there are our Zoom Meetings free to you.

We are looking forward to a new person starting in the office – Keeley Smart on 6 April. Miz will be pleased as she has had a lot to do on her own with the AGM, National AGM as well as answering the phone and emails.

We are looking for Ladies to train as Advisers all expenses will be paid. If you think you might like to find out more please phone the office. It is interesting work as no two WIs are the same

Yours in friendship,

Jane

March 2021

Dear Ladies,

Well here we are in March. As I write this it is actually a very wet 30 January. When you do see this letter it will probably be after our Annual Meeting. I do hope you managed to “send” a Delegate to the meeting and that they found it informative. What a lot of technology we have had to learn in the last year. I hope now the days are staying lighter longer you are getting out especially now some of you have had a “jab” or two! My garden is already waking up and beginning to look pretty again. But of course the nights can be quite cold and this might make you laugh, we warm up our bed with the hair dryer just to take the chill off before we jump in!

We have had a few emails asking about subscriptions and the national AGM. Of course this is out of Federation hands, so to speak, so we can only grumble too. I am sure by the time you read this there will be news. I trust that your WI has voted for the New National Trustees and of course remembered to vote for our own Annette Smith. Both Annette and Eileen Vago have stood down as trustees at our Annual Meeting. I cannot thank them enough for all their hard work over their time on the Board. I am sure we will see them both around once life gets back to normal and I can confirm that Annette is staying on the Home Economics Committee. I shall close now but I do hope to see some of you soon!

Be Strong and Keep Safe,

Jane Backshall

February 2021

Dear Ladies,

As you read the West Kent News at the beginning of February I hope that it will cheer you up through the dark winter days.

Some of us, I am sure, will feel we have been in lockdown forever forgetting those days last summer when we were let out. I remember taking part in the ACM at Tunbridge Wells last March never thinking I would not meet with any of you for over a year.

We, the Trustees, have thought long and hard about what to do about the forthcoming AGM. By law we must have one and now the only way is to have a virtual one, by Zoom, on March 10. It has been a steep learning curve for me, and I am sure for some of you, but we will make it work. Do not be concerned if you are chosen as the delegate for your WI, as, once we have your details you will be phoned and any problems you might have can be discussed. You will have seen by now on social media that the National AGM has been put back until June with a much reduced capacity. At the moment I do not know whether we will be putting on coaches - watch this space.

I am very pleased to hear that many WIs are keeping in touch by several methods - be it phone, email, Facebook, Zoom or walking around where they live. Please remember that there could be a member in your WI who has not spoken to a member in West Kent for a few days and would like a call, especially if they suddenly have to self isolate and have no family member nearby to help them out with food etc

The Federation is putting on some Zoom meetings about different topics, do have a look, they are free at the moment.

I know I have already asked but did anyone you know get New Year's Honours in this year? We like to keep a record at Headquarters.

Keep safe,

Jane Backshall

January 2021

Dear Ladies,

A New Year, A New Beginning

Here is the new look West Kent News all prepared in house by our three editors Linda, Janet & Rita. Congratulations and thank you to them and the office for doing such a good job. Please let us know what you think of the new look, no adverts for a start so more news from you.

What a year 2020 has turned out to be and what new challenges we have all faced. Did you keep in touch with your friends? We would like to know how you did it. I had never heard of Zoom or Teams or virtual meetings at the beginning of the year, but there you go, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Keep sending in your doings each month and maybe by the time you read this in the West Kent News in January life may be a little like normal. As I write this at the end of November I am still hoping we can have some sort of face to face meeting in March at Tunbridge Wells. There is still no news about the National AGM in April at the Royal Albert Hall so we must just keep our fingers crossed!

Keep safe,

Jane Backshall

December 2020

Dear Ladies,

Well, here we are. When you receive this it will be the end of an awful year, that's my opinion anyway. So, let's say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021.

January 2021 is going to be a new beginning for West Kent WIs - we have the new look Wets Kent News to be made 'in house' to look forward to with more up to date news, with no adverts and more photos. I hope, from you the members. Please send us anything you think we would all be interested in seeing in print, however small.

We are delighted to tell you that Rita King from Lenham WI has been co-opted onto the Board of Trustees, Rita is also going to join Linda Wills and Janet Buller on the team for the West Kent News.

Now, for some sad news for us but great news for Linda Styles, she is retiring! Her husband and Linda have bought a caravan and intend to go exploring with their two dogs! Linda joined us on March 3rd 2010 so we have been very lucky to have had a decade of her expertise. Thank you Linda for all you have done and on a personal note I cannot say enough about all the help I have had from her, 'she' who knows all the rules and must be obeyed!

Having said that, I know that Miz McGovern will be excellent in the role of Federation Secretary on her own. Please be patient if we do not get back to you quickly with an answer to a query, Miz will be the only Federation Secretary for a while as we think our way forward through this epidemic.

I never thought at the beginning of the year there would be so many changes to our lives through technology and wellbeing. Ladies do try and keep positive and look forward to the Spring and little green shoots. Here's wishing you all a peaceful and healthy Christmas and a wonderful New Year

Jane Backshall