Centenary AGM

What a day!  It certainly had everything, Royalty, hats, cake, speakers, a fashion show and much more, plus a touch of controversy.

After journeying down the day before, we duly presented ourselves (all gussied up!) at the Royal Albert Hall alongside 5,000 other WI members. Breaking from tradition we didn’t sing Jerusalem until the Queen arrived around half an hour from the beginning of the meeting.  She got a huge standing ovation and then we let rip with Jerusalem.  All those voices together in such an auditorium sounded amazing and I expect there was more than one case of ‘welling up’, me for a start.

All that business with the cake that the newspapers reported took place in a room away from the meeting so none of us there got to see any of it until the TV news later on. The first speaker was historian Lucy Worsley, talking about the history of the WI and the TV series about it that will be shown next month, very entertaining and very Lucy.

Discussion about the resolution was quite heated for various reasons and there was a motion to move to AOB which meant that no vote would be taken on it at all.  There had been much disquiet voiced from the floor about the vague wording of the resolution, it was felt that that would make any effective action on the resolution impossible to implement and the floor duly voted to move to AOB.  Not sure the Trustees were thrilled but of course they had to accept the vote.  I was rather impressed by the members independence of mind and felt quite proud that we had exercised our right not to agree with the motion, rightly or wrongly. At lunchtime, the area around the Albert Hall was awash with members setting up camp to eat their lunches in the sunshine.  The ice cream vans could have had a good holiday on the day’s takings!  There was a brass band from Huddersfield group (the Brassy Tarts!) playing on the steps of the Albert memorial much to the bemusement of tourists.

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson was the first speaker of the afternoon and very amusing and inspiring she was too, her story of being carried in her wheelchair by both Sir Steve Redgrave and David Beckham elicited very audible sighs (longing? desire?) from the audience!  Our last speaker was Helena Morrisey, hedge fund manager and founder of the 300 group which aims to get 300 women on to the board of Footsie 100 companies, oh and also she has 9 children!!  Whilst she made some good points about the need for more women in the higher echelons of business, I suspect that most of us were wondering ‘how does she manage with 9 children?’ (Masses of nannies of course) and ‘how has she kept her figure?’ Well, it was mid afternoon by then.

Interspersed with all this was a performance by the winning choir from the ‘Singing for Joy’ competition, the Blaedon Belles from Avon Federation. And a lovely sound they made too, as well as live link-ups with federations round the country, including Angelsey.

Lastly there was a fashion show by students from Kingston University who had been working in collaboration with WI members to produce all sorts of different knitwear.  The sole male model was much appreciated.

After that, there was one more rendition of Jerusalem and the national anthems of both England and Wales, try singing in welsh at the end of a long day! Then a mass surge for the coaches.

This has only been my impressions of the day as it’s been covered by both National and LNFWI websites.  There are lots of photos on the LNFWI website.  See if you can spot me in 2 of them!


Categories: Groups & Social

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