Federation News

Dental Health Matters

Unfortunately, at West Kent Federation, we have been unable to acquire a Dentist who could speak at a Zoom meeting for our members.  However, there is plenty of material for WIs to look at in their preparation for their AGM and resolution voting.
1. Every WI will have received, via their Secretary, a document called NFWI Annual meeting Briefing Notes – Dental Health Matters
2. Page 13 in April’s WI Life has an article on the Resolution
3. You will now find a selection of resources to help you learn more about the resolution on MyWI:
* Detailed briefing notes about the resolution
* A PowerPoint presentation on the topic
* A quiz to test your knowledge
* A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document about the resolutions process
* A discussion guide with ideas about how to discuss the resolution in your WI
4. NFWI Resolution Webinar
To support members in learning more about the resolution that will be voted upon at the Annual Meeting, the NFWI will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday 24 April at 12 noon.  The webinar will be an opportunity to learn more about the topic and will be open to all members to attend, so please cascade this information to your WIs.
Members who wish to join can register their interest via MyWI.
Please note that arguments for and against the resolution will not be presented at this supplementary meeting, and no voting will take place.
Details on how to join the event will be shared with registered attendees closer to the time, and a recording of the event will be available on MyWI shortly after the event for members to access.

We have a new WI forming in Wrotham!

Tuesday 12 March 2024, 1pm start. The introductory meeting will be held at Wrotham Village Hall, TN15 7AA.

Meeting the 2nd Tuesday of the month, 1pm-3pm.

We have a new WI forming in Bexley!

Monday 18 March 2024, 10am start. The introductory meeting will be held at Hurst Community Centre, Hurst Road, Bexley.

If you have any queries, please feel free to email Sue Boner WI Adviser on wiadvisers@wkfwi.org.uk – With the subject line of New Bexley WI

We have a new WI forming in Aylesford!

Wednesday 13 March 2024 19:15 for a 19:30 start. The introductory meeting will be held at Capel Morris Centre, Hall Road, Aylesford, ME20 7NL

If you have any queries, please feel free to email Carol Gupwell WI Adviser on wiadvisers@wkfwi.org.uk – With the subject line of New Aylesford WI

West Kent Choir “Unites”

Our West Kent choir had the opportunity to round off their first year singing together in a concert at Walthamstow Hall School in Sevenoaks on 9 July before the summer break.

An annual event organised by our choir leader Michael Grant and his colleague Donna, this was a chance for us to make our third public appearance since forming last year.

We joined forces in the finale with Wealden Vocals , Soul Train and an NHS choir which Michael formed during lockdown.

What a joy to sing with a live band and other singers!

With our last number “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman ringing in our ears ,we left full of enthusiasm for the new term which starts in Orpington in September. Come join us.

Proceeds from the concert were in aid of Tomorrows Warriors.

Anne Willatt, Neville WI

Hartley Evening WI

Our motto for the day “Keep dry and carry on”.
Despite a very rainy afternoon our planned August garden party still went ahead. Our Treasurer Chris and her husband Barry kindly let us gather in their lovely orangery. 40 members were present and we had great fun, a W.I. themed quiz, a bring and buy and of course delicious tea and cakes. A lovely afternoon was enjoyed by all and it was certainly the perfect antidote to the miserable weather, thank you again Chris and Barry.
Sue Horner
Press Secretary
Hartley Evening W.I.

Istead Rise WI

The chance to view the Sistine Chapel without travelling to Rome!  Members from ISTEAD RISE WI were delighted to visit the Church of the English Martyrs  at Goring by Sea, Sussex, and gaze in awe at the two/third replication of the curved ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  In 1987 Gary Bevans went on a pilgrimage to Rome and returned home convinced that he had to reproduce this ceiling in his own parish church. It took five and half years working mainly in the evenings to complete his project.
Also to view was his rendition of a painting of the Last Supper, a beautiful stain glass window based on Peter the Fisherman with references to the local sea fishing etc.
On the other window, glass was etched to depict the images of the Ten Martyrs to whom the Church is dedicated.
Our group continued to Worthing to enjoy lunch, stroll in the sunshine, and admire more stain glass images displayed on the pier donated by local people, groups, and charities.  Our thanks to Maggie Hart for organising the excursion.
Linda Wills

NFWI AGM Cardiff

Having joined the West Kent Coach fairly early it was great to make our final pick up and head off to Cardiff where we arrived on a beautiful sunny afternoon.

We enjoyed a good meal in the hotel and were able to get to know some new WI friends.

The following morning we walked the short distance to the hall where the AGM was held. 3,500 ladies all singing Jerusalem needs some beating, and we were straight on to business. As I’m sure most of you know by now the Resolution was approved by the delegates both in the hall and on line with 84% voting for acceptance.

The meeting finished with us singing Jerusalem and then both the Welsh and UK National anthems. I can assure you that the ladies of West Kent did you proud singing Land of my Fathers in Welsh, from a phonetic version even if we did resort to la la la a little!

The evening was a special time to get to know all of the delegates and trustees including Amanda, who had travelled from West Kent and cement those new friendships, before an uneventful return trip home, the next day.

Pam Ormiston. Bredhurst WI

Picture, of some of the West Kent Delegates and Observers

We have a new WI forming in Tonbridge!

Wednesday 21 June 2023 19:15 for a 19:45 start. The Introductory meeting will be held at New Telegraph Club, Priory Road, TN9 2AS
If you have any queries, please feel to email Jenny on newtonbridgewi@gmail.com or Carol Gupwell WI Adviser on 01622 67600

Come and Meet the Green Team

In the great outdoors to mark Great Big Green Week on Thursday 15 June. We invite you to join us for a walk and a plastic free picnic at Bore Place, between Sevenoaks and Edenbridge.

Venue - Bore Place, Bore Place Road, Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7AR. www.boreplace.org/visit/visitor-information/

For More information contact the Green Team at: greenteam@wkfwi.org.uk

The next Choir sessions are:

Following the success of our performance at the Annual General Meeting, we would welcome any new members to come and join the sing song with the West Kent WI Choir. Next half term session dates:

Southborough Civic Centre— Wednesdays 2:00—3:30 pm 7 June 21 June 5 July

Orpington Village Hall—Wednesdays 1:15—2:45 pm 14 June 28 June 12 July

The cost is £22.50 per half term (3 sessions) which will be billed to your WI (so please let your Treasurer know you will be paying this invoice). Any questions, please contact Gill Brown pals@wkfwi.org.uk


Nevill WI - Show the Love

Post box topper from Nevill WI, one of their ladies has created for the WI “Show the Love” climate change campaign. Alongside green hearts made by members of Nevill WI Craft Club as part of the Show the Love campaign.

Resolution Talk

West Kent Public Affairs & International sub-committee have arranged a Zoom meeting and talk on the Resolution for Wednesday 12 April at 7.00pm.
The talk will be given by Katy Lewis, Monitoring Manager West – Environment Agency.  Katy is an environmental scientist who manages monitoring at the Environment Agency.  She leads the teams who carry out water quality sampling in the rivers and coastal waters of England.
The Environment Agency is the non-departmental Government body who monitors water quality at inland and coastal waters with large numbers of bathers designated under the Bathing Waters Directive.
They report the results so that the public as well as the Local Authorities can be informed about the quality of the water for bathing.
Katy will talk about the state of English rivers, current monitoring and how a WI resolution could be effective for improving bathing waters.
If you would like to join the Zoom, please secure your place on Try Booking on the attached link before 4pm on Tuesday 4 April.

Annual General Meeting - Monday 27 March

Come and join West Kent Federation for our Annual General Meeting on Monday 27 March at The Assembly Hall at Tunbridge Wells.

Our speakers are the Federation Archivists, and Rev. Kate Botley. Entertainment from the West Kent WI Choir.

Don’t forget to bring cash for the raffle and there will be trading stalls:

Alison the Silversmith  *  Fairtrade - Love that Stuff

Handcrafted Gifts - Snobb  *  Greeting Cards  *  Neal’s Yard

Find out more in February West Kent News: https://west-kent.thewi.org.uk/west-kent-news

King Charles Coronation

To celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III, West Kent Federation is inviting every WI to submit one greetings card congratulating our monarch. The card can be in any medium that you desire but it must be of a standard suitable to send to His Majesty and must have an accompanying quality envelope or card box. The greeting inside of the card must read:

“The Board of Trustees and all the members of West Kent Federation of WIs would like to extend their greetings and best wishes to His Majesty King Charles III on the occasion of his Coronation”

One card will be selected by the Board of Trustees from all the cards received that best embodies the spirit of the event and the WI, and will be sent to Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Federation.

A photograph of the winning entry will be displayed along with all the other entries at the Federation Annual General Meeting, and any other suitable events throughout 2023 before being returned to their creators. The card must be 5” x 7”; all colour, original design, style and decoration are down to the card makers, which can be an individual or a group. No computer art will be accepted.

Finished entries should be either delivered by hand or carefully packed and sent to Arts and Crafts Team, Ethel Hunt Lodge, 4 Hawkwell Business Park, Maidstone Road, Pembury, Kent TN2 4AG

The closing date for entries is the 6 March 2023.

Federation Annual General Meeting

The Trustees are proud to announce that we have booked a wonderful lady as our keynote speaker at next year’s Federation Annual Meeting.

The Reverend Kate Bottley!

The Reverend Kate Bottley is known to most of us as a TV personality. She is an ordained priest in North Nottinghamshire and is passionate about bringing stories of faith and belief to the widest audience possible.

Kate currently presents Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 alongside Jason Mohammed and is a regular presenter on Songs of Praise, The One Show, Steph’s Packed Lunch, Sunday Morning Live and Sunday Morning Stories. She has appeared as a contributor on Saturday Breakfast with Dermot O’Leary and Pause for Thought on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, for which she won a Jerusalem Award.

She is married with two children and has a 10-year-old retired racing greyhound called Buster. Rev. Kate loves dancing and “telly” – being a guest on Celebrity Masterchef. How brave is that! What an “Inspiring Woman”!

In all, Kate is a larger than life character who we will have the honour to meet and listen to on Monday 27th March at our Federation Annual Meeting in Tunbridge Wells. Please put the date in your diaries and look out for more information to book your tickets in future communication from the Federation.

West Kent Federation Carols at Christmas

West Kent Federation would like to invite you all to start your Christmas with us at All Saints Church Maidstone on Wednesday 7th December for our Carols at Christmas.

Ticket price is £5, please phone 01892 823813 or email the Federation office on Fedsec@wkwi.org.uk putting ‘Tickets for All Saints, Maidstone’ in the subject box, stating the number of tickets required and your WI. You will be emailed your ticket(s) after the closing date and your WI will be invoiced in the normal way. Please note your tickets are non-refundable and non-returnable.

We will be singing your much loved carols and listening to excerpts from some of your favourite Christmas poems and stories. So, once again we need to hear from you! Please let us know if you have a favourite you would like to share with us all and if you are willing to read it yourself.

We are also putting out a call to all WI’s, craft groups to bring along a decoration for the pew ends of the church.

Last year’s pew ends were amazing and a great showcase for the talents of our Federation members. As with last year this can be any media – knitting, crochet, fresh or dried flowers etc. In any form – wreath, hanging etc. but it must be able to hang from the pew end and be within 12 inches long and 9 inches wide.

Items can be dropped into Ethel Hunt Lodge by Friday 11th November with your name WI and contact details attached. We would also recommend you take a photo of your decoration before you drop it off. Decorations can also be bought along on the day.

Readings and poems can be emailed into the Federation office at fedsec@wkwi.org.uk. Please state if you are able to read your contribution or if you are happy for someone else to read it. There will be an opportunity to rehearse at the church on the day.

Applications for tickets to Ethel Hunt Lodge FedSec@wkfwi.org.uk or by phone 01892 823813. Your WI will be invoiced in the usual way and tickets sent accordingly.

We look forward to seeing you at All Saints, Maidstone on Wednesday 7th December at 2pm when our Federation Christmas begins!

The Great Big Green Week runs from 24 September - 2 October 2022 and celebrates community action to tackle climate change and protect nature. To mark this West Kent Federation is hosting a Zoom talk on Monday 26th September. We are delighted to welcome Caroline Arnold, the Chief Executive of Bore Place, home of the Commonwork Trust near Chiddingstone in West Kent.  

Caroline will give us a brief history of Bore Place and the creation of the Commonwork Trust by Neil & Jenifer Wates, whose vision was to explore how to live and work sustainably and reduce our impact on our planet. These values still run true today and Caroline will highlight how they have been incorporated into the running of Bore Place which has an organic dairy farm and market garden at its core. Also a key facet of Bore Place is its role in education, aiming to help us explore our impact on the environment and to think about the decisions we make in our everyday lives and how making the right choices can help us all to lead more sustainable lives.

Caroline has a passion for all things environmental and will share with us why we need to reconnect with nature for our own well-being as well as the planet’s. She is sure to inspire us, so sign up now and join us to hear Caroline on Monday 26th September at 7.30pm - everyone’s invited! This Zoom will be £2

Secure your place via Trybooking: www.trybooking.co.uk/BTTW

Come and sing with us!

Would you like to try the West Kent Choir sessions?
If so, please email to fedsec@wkfwi.org.uk and let the office know by the end of July.


Istead Rise WI members plus one husband and Eric the dog enjoyed a fund-raising walk through the woods at Trosley Country Park. The bluebells, despite the lack of rain, were in full colour and perfume. The Country Park does offer  a Woodland Orchestra opportunity, and a chance to marvel at the skills of the wood carving at Wood Henge plus plenty of interactive activities for younger family members. The café for coffee at the end of the walk was much appreciated. Please send in your  walk photos and write ups for the June WKN.

Thanks to Brenda Barbary for sharing her photos.

Queens Platinum Jubilee Celebrations

West Kent Federation are inviting you to join us in celebrating the Queens Platinum Jubilee at Hildenborough Village Hall on 15 June 2022 from 2:00pm – 4:00pm with afternoon tea. Entertainment from the lovely Lyrae, alongside a cake competition - invent, create, and decorate an ‘Elizabeth’ cake, with a prize for the winner.

Please send ticket applications to Ethel Hunt Lodge by 30 April, these are £20 per person.

Find out more about the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations and what else is planned in the April's West Kent News: https://west-kent.thewi.org.uk/west-kent-news

Associated Country Women of the World

On 24th February over 80 West Kent Federation ladies met at Lenham Community Centre for a fund-raising tea, produced by the ladies of Lenham WI, in aid of ACWW.

Our guest of honour was the International President of ACWW, Magdie de Kock who was in the country for a Board Meeting before travelling on to New York for the ACWW meetings with the United Nations. Tish Collins, Executive Director of ACWW gave a presentation on the latest news from ACWW head office in London. Tricia Ashdown, the West Kent ACWW Rep, who steps down after five years of dedication to the role, was presented flowers by Magdie.

Keston WI are Reforming!

Wednesday 9 March 2022 13:00-15:00 a reformation meeting will be taking place, come along and gain information about the WI and how it will run, at Keston Village Hall.

Wednesday 13 April Keston WI Keston will be officially open. Meetings will be held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 13:00-15:00.

If you have any queries, please feel free to email WIAdvisers@wkfwi.org.uk and put the subject line as Keston reformation FAO Bev Wild.

West Kent Federation Platinum Jubilee Celebrations SAVE THE DATE - 15 June 2022

West Kent are planning to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with an afternoon tea at Hildenborough Village Hall

At the moment, proposed activities include: “The Queen, The Coronation and I” – send us any pictures, you have taken, of Her Majesty or celebrations in her name

Cake Competition – Design and make an “Elizabeth” sponge – Lifestyle

Art & Craft—See below A tree or Planter - Green Team Raffle – PALS

There will be musical entertainment and, possibly, the chance to dress up in clothes from your favourite decade

Express your interest by emailing the Lifestyle mailbox Lifestyle@wkfwi.uk.org All of the above is subject to change.

Platinum Jubilee Celebrations Make a Leaf for our Garland from recycled materials

To celebrate the Platinum Anniversary of the Ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, West Kent Federation is inviting each WI to craft one leaf that will be incorporated into a length of garland to be hung at the Jubilee Celebration Event and other events throughout 2022, and will afterwards be kept at Ethel Hunt Lodge for future events.

An oak leaf template is shown. Your leaf must be 7 inches long, double sided, and can be made of any fabrics, using recycled materials, and embellished and decorated to your design using embroidery, appliqué, beading or other fabric decorating techniques.

Finished entries should be sent to the Arts and Crafts Team, Ethel Hunt Lodge, 4 Hawkwell Business Park, Maidstone Road, Pembury, Kent TN2 4AG. The closing date for entries is 30 April 2022.

Platinum Greetings to Her Majesty

To celebrate the Platinum Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II, West Kent Federation is inviting every WI to submit one greetings card congratulating our monarch on her 70th Anniversary. The card can be in any medium that you desire but it must be of a standard suitable to send to Her Majesty and must have an accompanying quality envelope or card box. The inside of the card should read

“The Board of Trustees and all the members of West Kent Federation of WI’s would like to extend their greetings and best wishes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee”

One card will be selected by the Board of Trustees from all the cards received that best embodies the spirit of the event and the WI, and will be sent to Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Federation.

A photograph of the winning entry will be displayed along with all the other entries at the Federation Platinum Jubilee Celebrations and any other suitable events throughout 2022 before being returned to their creators. The card must be 5’ x 7’; all colour, design, style and decoration are down to the card makers, which can be an individual or a group.

Finished entries should be either delivered by hand or carefully packed and sent to Arts and Crafts Team, Ethel Hunt Lodge, 4 Hawkwell Business Park, Maidstone Road, Pembury, Kent TN2 4AG. The closing date for entries is 30 April 2022.

Walking Netball

England Netball (EN) and the National Federations of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) Walking Netball project has been the most successful partnership of it’s kind in the WI. Established in April 2018, this partnership has supported over 3000 WI members to get active, build friendships and connections; helped the physical and mental wellbeing of members and empowered members to lead Walking Netball by becoming WN hosts.
To help support WIs WN groups to return to court following the Covid 19 pandemic and to continue the success and growth of the partnership between EN and NFWI, WI Walking Netball Ambassadors have been introduced.
Nine Walking Netball Ambassadors have been appointed across the country. The WN Ambassadors role is to not only support WI WN groups returning to court, but also to champion Walking Netball within local WIs; develop a network of local WN hosts and encourage and inspire members to take part and have fun.
West Kent Walking Netball Ambassador is Shirley Ellis. If you would like a visit from her to one of your WI
meetings please email her on shirleyellishost@yahoo.com

Fluff is useful stuff.

Almost ¾ of the plastic microfibers in the Arctic Ocean are polyester that appears to be coming from our clothing. But it’s been easy for us to ignore the full impact of our laundry because we can’t see these microplastics drain from our machines - but they are there.

Empty your tumble dryer filter though and it’s all too clear. This is the exact same stuff that gets washed out of your clothing in the washing machine.

So what if we told you this fluff could in fact be useful stuff?

Want to keep microfibres out of landfill and help scientists turn them into something useful? We know someone who wants your tumble dryer filter fluff…

Matter (the microplastic filter folk) are researching all sorts of ways to filter out, reuse and upcycle your microplastic fluff, keeping it out of our oceans and landfill and turning it back into things like packaging and insulation. To continue the research, they need enough fluff to fill a bus! As tumble dryer lint is so light it’s super simple to pop into an envelope and post to:

Matter, Unit 5
Avon Trading Estate
St Philips

Please DON’T put your lint in plastic or a plastic bag. A paper envelope or cardboard box is perfect!

Note! Tumble dryers are huge generators of carbon in the home and so of course we recommend that you avoid using one whenever possible. However, if this winter sees you really needing a dryer, then posting lint to Matter supports a really innovative cause.


The Trustees would like to remind WIs that in 2022 your Annual Meeting must revert to being held in May. This applies even if in 2021 Annual Meetings were held later in the year. As such, to be able to vote on the Annual Meeting business and Resolutions, members must pay their subscriptions at the April meeting by the latest.

WhatsApp, Citizens Advice, and the National Trading Standards' Friends Against Scams are working together to launch STOP. THINK. CALL., a new campaign to help educate people on how to protect themselves and their WhatsApp account from message-based scams.
You can find out more on Friends Against Scams website here


Honor Oak WI has had their Resolution shortlisted.  Theirs is the one about Autism. I don’t think in living memory a West Kent WI has had a Resolution chosen.

Women and Girls with ASD & ADHD - under-identified, under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed, under-supported

Women and girls presenting with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are going undiagnosed. The NFWI calls on the government and funding bodies to fund research into the female presentation of ASD and ADHD, and for action to be taken to improve the diagnosis process for women and girls, to ensure that they are equipped to better manage these conditions and do not suffer in silence.  The NFWI further calls on WI members to raise awareness within their WIs of the issues facing women and girls with ASD and ADHD.

You can also read an article on the BBC about ‘Why women might wait decades for an ADHD diagnosis.’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-59038116

Art and Craft Annual Days 6 and 7 October 2021

The Art and Craft Team held their annual Art and Crafts days at Ditton Community Centre. It was lovely to see so many faces. We have loved reading your messages that have been sent to the office

West Kent Federation Christmas Celebrations

For our Christmas Celebration at All Saints Church Maidstone on Wednesday 8th December we need to hear from you! This is an opportunity for us to celebrate friendship and coming through the last 18 months together.

We would like to hear how you coped, helped as an individual, as a group of friends, or as a WI through the pandemic. What skills did you learn? Any stories to tell? How your WI helped?

These writings would become part of our Federation celebration in December, read out by the authors so we can all share our experiences.

To add to the idea of celebration we are putting out a call to all WI’s, craft groups’ Needles and Natter, etc. to bring along a decoration for the pew ends of the church.

This can be any media – knitting, crochet, fresh or dried flowers, etc. In any form –  wreath, hanging, etc. but it must be able to hang from the pew end and be within 12 inches long and 9 inches wide.

Please send any written items and if you are willing to make a decoration to Miz by Friday 12th November with your name WI and contact details.


Please see photos of the pew ends at the church.

The Green Team have some tips on how to be a greener shopper:

1. Take your own bags and containers with you when going shopping. Hard to remember? Keeping a bag in the car or your handbag helps enormously.

2. Many shops including supermarkets will place purchases such as meat and fish into your own clean containers if you ask.

3. You can leave behind unwanted plastic wrapping on your purchases at the supermarket which helps remind them that we don’t see it as necessary.

4. Try to support your local producers by visiting farmers markets and farm shops, and seek to buy what is in season.

5. Don’t just check the sell by date on food products, but see how far they have travelled.

6. Investigate refill stations and shops in your area. Look online to see what is available near you, their numbers are rapidly increasing and aren’t just to be found in urban centres.

7. Explore options for buying household items such as loo rolls in bulk from companies that don’t use plastic packaging. Find friends or family to share the purchase with.

8. Study clothing labels to see if they say they have been ethically/sustainably produced.

9. Consider renting an outfit for a special occasion rather than buying something.

10. When buying greetings cards and wrapping paper look out for items that don’t have an outer wrapping made of plastic but instead have one made from corn starch or better still no outer covering at all.

11. Finally persuade your WI to invite the manager of a local supermarket to come and explain what their company is doing to reduce the amount of plastic packaging they use, and hear what you want to see changed.

Sunflower Prize Winner

Following on from the success of our Christmas meeting in a bag, CEWI repeated the concept again at Easter. This time, Sunflower seeds were included in the bag and our ladies were asked to grow them with a prize being awarded for the largest sunflower head.

As you can imagine, the final sunflowers heads presented were in all shapes and sizes. However, there was one overall winner and that was garden-loving Jean Pemberton.

Well done, Jean!


A glass of Pimms or Fruit Cup welcomed everyone to our outdoor August picnic in the sun. Sheena from “The Tuneless Choir” in Tonbridge led us through those perennial favourites – Downtown, Show Me The Way to Amarillo, I would Walk 500 Miles, Making Your Mind Up, as well as songs from shows Consider Yourself One of Us, and countless others, finishing with the much loved “Bring Me Sunshine”.  Tea and biscuits were served and suddenly our wonderful afternoon had come to an end.


***Possible new Virtual WI for West Kent Federation***

Can you help?

We would like to begin exploring the option of a new *VIRTUAL WI* for the West Kent Federation. The WI has really been able to benefit from the use of technology to bring people together from all over the country, and several Virtual WIs are already a great success.

However, we cannot do it alone! We have a small number of willing and enthusiastic volunteers to kick-start this process, but we need to gather a few more soldiers to join the troops. Are you interested in joining the team? Can you take minutes? Are you a whizz with the accounts? Are you willing to lead and be one of the faces at the forefront? Can you lead a craft group or a book club? Do you love chatting to new people? If so, then we’d love to hear from you!

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that this is wholly virtual, and any potential members are expected to have access to the internet and adequate equipment. The WI does not provide this for us.

If you would like to be involved with this initiative, please email us at westkentvirtualwi@wkfwi.org.uk and we will be in contact in due course.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!



On Tuesday, 6 July, 19 members from across West Kent tried paddle boarding at Mote Park Water Sports Centre in Maidstone. The weather was a real mixed bag with the second group getting caught in a cloud burst but it didn’t dampen their enthusiasm. There was some initial trepidation, but Stuart and his team explained that generally, people didn’t fall in and if we did – then it was only waist deep, so we’d be fine!  We learned how to assemble our board, attach our tethers, get on and off easily, where to kneel or stand and we were off!  Starting on our knees, we paddled across to the initial, sheltered, rendezvous point and tried standing up, which was reasonably easy. However, stopping and keeping our boards still took a bit of practice! Stuart explained how to read the water - to look for the easy to paddle mirror water rather than the choppy cat’s paw water where strong breezes push you in specific directions.  We were shown various manoeuvring strokes and some of us tried only paddling on one side of the board using nifty techniques to change direction. Standing on the board with the wind behind you, pushing you forward, was very exhilarating.  Stand-up paddle boarding is a great exercise for your core and is the fastest growing sport among women in the UK.  You can even do Pilates and yoga classes on a board out on the water! A couple of us tried a ‘cat stretch’ and a ‘downwards facing dog’ but I don’t think we will be taking up advanced paddle board yoga just yet! The sessions were over all too quickly and left many of us buzzing with enthusiasm and I for one will definitely be back for another go!

Gilly Tully, Bearsted & Thurnham WI

Stop Modern Slavery

NFWI has launched the new member action pack for the Stop Modern Slavery campaign.

In the pack you will find:

  • Information to help you understand the issue
  • Busting the myths and getting the facts
  • The current situation
  • How to get involved
  • Information about contacting specialist organisations
  • Key dates for the diary

They have also produced a page of wallet cards for you to print, cut, and share among your networks and at any events, you may be holding.

The wallet cards outline some of the signs to spot for modern slavery and how to report it.

Stop Modern Slavery Webinar: 15 October 2021

As part of Anti-Slavery Day this year, they will be hosting a webinar for WI members on the topic of modern slavery and trafficking. You will have the chance to hear from expert speakers on the topic, as well as an opportunity to ask questions.

The action pack, wallet cards and registration to sign up for the webinar can be found here: https://mywi.thewi.org.uk/public-affairs-and-campaigns/current-campaigns/stop-modern-slavery

Nothing but net – words Eleanor Wilson, photography Jade Tinkler

Former Ballerina Jane Parker member of Wells Belles WI never lost her passion for dance – now she sews tutus for the next generation.

Sparkly costumes are essential to the magic of a ballet recital, but ballet veteran Jane Parker has grim news for dance-lovers: those beautiful tutus smell awful.

‘Professional ballet companies build their tutus for longevity, and they’d expect them to be used for 30 years. The only thing is, quite disgustingly, that you can’t wash them,’ she reveals. ‘You spray them with vodka to kill anything nasty, but it certainly doesn’t take away the smell.’

A member of Wells Belles WI, West Kent Federation, Jane started taking ballet classes at six years old, progressing to the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts of college before knee problems at age 19 killed her dreams of dancing professionally. ‘That was bit of a “now what?” moment.’ She says. ‘Once you’ve had a dancing career, most people either go into choreography or become a dance teacher, and I don’t have the patience for that. But I knew that I always wanted to be part of that world.’

While a performer with a non-profit amateur dance company, her son was born, she didn’t want to go back to her office job and turned to sewing, her other lifelong passion.

Her company, Alphabetty Designs, was originally a children’s clothing label, which featured in Glamour magazine. Then a friend pointed out that her dance background made her highly qualified to supply costumes for Tunbridge Wells’ dance schools. Jane made her first tutu in 2014 and it snowballed; she now crafts around 100 a year.

Some tutus are made in batches for dance schools, but most are individually constructed for young dancers on the festival circuit, hoping to win through to the All-England Dance national finals. Each tutu is designed to go with a specific routine and music, fitting the dancer perfectly and taking her tastes into account. Classic white or pastel pink with a hint of silver is perfect for a floaty, pretty routine but, for a more energetic number, Jane goes for vibrant reds, purples, and golds, or darker shades like midnight blue.

Surrounded by layers of lilac net for a tutu in progress. Jane confides: ‘My first tutu was lilac and I hated it. I’m very mindful about listening to the dancers and not so much to their mums. ‘When you put on an item of clothing you adore, you feel like you’ve grown six feet, and that’s what I want these kids to feel. It enhances their performance.

Each costume and its dance routine are retired or passed on to a younger dancer after two years, so Jane has seen some of her clients through their entire careers. The lilac tutu she’s now working on is the third she’s made for a 12-year-old ballerina, whom Jane has known since she was aged six. ‘I’ll never forget when she first came in: she was carrying a little stuffed toy and sucking her fingers.’ She says. ‘She’s towering over me now, and a really lovely dancer.’

Not counting decoration, a tutu takes about 30 hours to construct. The seven to 12 layers of net in the skirt are sometimes supported by a metal hoop to help keep it stiff. For younger dancers, Jane uses Lycra for the bodice, but older children get a structured bodice with extra boning at the back to help them keep their posture. Unlike costumes at adult dance companies, children’s tutus need to be able to grow with their dancers while also fitting closely. ‘I leave lots of seams exposed on the inside so they can be quickly altered. I’ve even adjusted tutus backstage just before they go on.’

From Dance to Diversity

Although Jane is used to last-minute changes, the Covid lockdown was hard to handle. Dance shows, competitions and festivals were cancelled and there was no point in starting and of her orders; all her clients would have grown out of their costumes by the time they could wear them on stage.

In the middle of what should have been the bust season, she suddenly had nothing to do. ‘I just can’t not sew: it’s part of me now. I need to be sewing. So, I started making scrubs.’

Fellow members of Wells Belles WI dropped off old duvet covers, and Jane turned them into 50 sets of scrubs for local GP surgeries and hospitals, as well as making 200 masks for care homes and friends. It was hard to resist the urge to glam up a few of her creations with gems, ‘but they’d have come off in the wash’. Instead, she took to making miniature tutus to sell as keepsakes for dancers who never got to wear their costumes.

The person responsible for Jane’s love of sewing is her mum, Marilyn Compton, who made all her dance costumes as a child and joined Wells Belles WI at the same time. Marilyn swore she’d never be a member after sitting through a particularly dull talk at her mother-in-law’s WI decades ago. But Jane was charmed by Wells Belles WI after she gave them a talk on her tutus – and now her is a WI convert, too.

‘I thought, “I’ve definitely found my WI, because they like gin tasting and crafting and chatting – and I’m quite good at chatting”.’ Says Jane. ‘It’s nice to do something a bit special with my mum.’

Her most keenly felt loss last year was her annual giveaway. Janes gifts her 100th tutu every year to a deserving dancer who can’t afford a new tutu, so is nominated by local ballet schools. The pandemic meant she only made 48 tutus in 2020.

‘Every kid who has the courage to get up on that stage and perform all on their own is phenomenal, and every one of them should have that opportunity,’ she says.

Although the arts have taken ‘a right bashing’ during lockdown, dance competitions have started up again and Jane has her hands full of net once more. When she has a few hours to spare, she’s hoping to bring back the dressmaking and sewing courses she had to cancel last year. Until then. It’s all about the stage.

Hopehill May-time Walk – by Sue Webb of Harvel WI 20 May 2021

Arriving at Hopehill fully equipped with drinks, packed lunch, wet weather gear, dry weather gear, hats and in my case gloves and of course mobile phone in case we got lost or should I say when we got lost!!

The organisers took our names and contact details and the name of our next of kin, oh dear what were we letting ourselves in for? They gave us maps and details of the walk plus a quiz to make sure we didn’t gossip too much and paid attention to the countryside, we only missed one question and had to send a scout to retrace our steps to find the answer.

Following a quick trip to the conveniences, we set off. We had lots of catching up to do as the four of us had not had a face-to-face chat in a long, long time. We realised we needed to walk and talk not dawdle and gossip when the ladies who left after us caught us up and embarrassingly overtook us. One of our parties had an optician's appointment at 4 pm and laughingly said we’d better get a move on or she would miss it, we laughed it was only 11 o’clock how long could it possibly take to walk 5 miles?

Through the woods along the bye way and light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Meopham Green and the next photo opportunity.

Crossing the field gave us additional time to talk about family, friends, and forthcoming plans. We stopped to admire the views and to take a deep breath of fresh air. We loved enviously looking at other folk's fabulous houses and gardens including wondering at the rugby post. We continued to follow the route across a garden and up above Dean lane. We missed the abandoned vehicle. Two noble troupers went back to get the number whilst two enjoyed the wild grass flower and view!!

The sun was shining we didn’t have a care in the world.

Famous last words about half a mile further along the sky’s started to leak, the rain was torrential followed quickly by hailstones we were in the area, but it didn’t protect us, and I felt sure Pat Wilson was looking down on us with a complete understanding of our dilemma as she had walked these paths so many times before us.

Brave and determined we moved on crossing Chapmans Hill and back into the sheep fields above Dean lane, further along, we found poor old Softy and the bird in Heron Lane actually, two peacocks on a roof. Suddenly emerging from the wood, we saw about 15 WI walkers on the path in front. We would not be the last after all.

The stile proved to be a challenge for one of our numbers she nearly didn’t make it!! We blame short legs!

Bombarded by nosy ponies we climbed the hill and onto the last part of our journey. Arriving back at base and all feeling quite pleased with ourselves. We had achieved 5 miles in a reasonable time, had a good chat in the lovely countryside and we had weathered a mini storm. A warm bath awaited.

We would like to thank everyone involved in the organisation of the walk. We really enjoyed it Thank you.

Harvel WI Members

Dawn Foxwell, Sally Smith, Jean Gunn, and Sue Webb

Heart of Kent Hospice

Heart of Kent Hospice is excited to announce its latest range of volunteer opportunities for the local community to support. Please read below to see how you can get involved and help make a difference.

Queen's Birthday Card

Deadline for members to submit their finished card in celebration of the Queen's birthday is the 1st March 2020.  Please ensure that members include their name, contact details, WI and Federation.  Completed work must be sent to NFWI, Denman, Marcham, Abingdon, Oxon, OX13 6NW; all submissions will be acknowledged.  The maker of the chosen card will be informed separately.

Guidelines for makers:

  1. The craftsperson/maker must be a WI member.
  2. The Chair of Activities Committee, with the support and guidance of an external professional, if necessary, will select the final card which will be sent on behalf of the WI.
  3. Commercial items, such as toppers, stickers or wording, should not be used.  Branding or manufacture logos must not be visible.
  4. The final card dimensions should measure no less than 148 x 210mm (A5) and no more than 210 x 297mm (A4).
  5. If mounting the piece of work onto card, before being sent to the NFWI, inside text must read ‘WI members send their warmest good wishes to you on this very special day’.  If the maker choses to not mount their work, this will be done by the NFWI and the text entered on their behalf.
  6. The maker must provide a short written statement explaining the theory behind their finished piece of work plus a brief bio of themselves.  This piece must be written and presented to a high standard worthy of accompanying the finished card.
  7. The finished piece of work must be completed by 1 March 2021 and sent by Royal Mail, Recorded Delivery to the the NFWI, Denman, Marcham, Abingdon, Oxon, OX13 6NW.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange for the card to be delivered by hand.  Please include the name and contact details of the maker, including address, email, WI and federation – this must be written separately and not within the supporting statement.
  8. The chosen finished card will be sent to the NFWI Head Office, London to be signed by the NFWI Chair, and photographed before being sent to Buckingham Palace.  The card will be sent along with the written piece detailing the maker (refer to point 5).
  9. The maker must ensure the card is wrapped and packaged securely in a box.  The box, containing the card, will be presented to the palace, therefore the maker must ensure that the box represents the style and standard of the card.
  10. The NFWI will reimburse the maker for the cost of materials and postage.
  11. The NFWI reserves the right to publish images of the finished card, along with the written statement, on WI social media channels, My WI and in WI Life.
  12. The finished card will be sent to the Palace on behalf of all WI members, for this reason, the NFWI will take ownership and responsibility of the card.
  13. Once the card has been sent to the Palace, the maker nor the NFWI will be able to ask for the card to be returned.

CIO Update April 2020


I am sure that the CIO change-over is the last thing you want to be thinking about in these troubled times but we have started the legal process of changing the Federation to a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) so it is important that we give you an update.

The Change-over process has four parts to it:

  1. We needed a two thirds majority vote on the resolution to change at a Special Meeting of the Federation. Many thanks to everyone who supported us in giving us a 100% vote in favour of the resolution at the meeting on 5thMarch 2020 at Tunbridge Wells.
  2. We needed to complete, with the help of our Solicitor, the lengthy application to the Charity Commission to ask them to register us as a new CIO charity. This process was completed on the Charity Commission by 4thMarch 2020. The new charity is now set up ready for us to change over.
  3. We still need the approval from NFWI at the National Annual Meeting in June 2020. But this meeting has been cancelled. The following email from Melissa Green, NFWI General Secretary, deals with this matter:

“I have already spoken with Kerri (McGarvie) our Board Secretary about this as it is one of the requirements from the AM (Annual Meeting) that we need to ensure we cover in whatever we put in place to replace the AM event. 

These are unprecedented times and we have so many legal and constitutional disruptions to address, but in the meantime as your CIO process has been approved (thank goodness they were so quick in getting confirmation to you ahead of the disruptions due to Coronavirus) you can now go forward as a CIO, even if the AM ‘announcement’ has yet to happen.

Once we have had a chance to work with our legal team to agree what needs to be in place in lieu of the AM event I will let you know and this will include the CIO announcement for you and other federations that have made the transition this year.”

  1. So now, when we are ready, we can now change all of our business arrangements and accounts over to the CIO. We had hoped to do this at the end of September to coincide with the ends of the Federation financial year. Realistically this is not going to happen during the coronavirus shut down. The resolution passed at Tunbridge Wells on 5th March stated that we had 12 months to make the change over or we would have to come back to a new meeting and a second vote of approval. Hopefully life will return to normal and we can complete the process in that time. If not, we will have another vote next March.

As far as I know there is no time limit on our registration of the new CIO so we will complete the process eventually. The Federation has invested time and money into this change so it is important that, in writing this letter, we are showing that we are accountable to our members.

These are difficult and uncertain times. We have health and safely to concern ourselves with. But having started this legal process, we cannot just forget about it.

Best wishes to you all; keep safe and well.

Caroline Davis – Vice-Chairman West Kent Federation