Secretary’s Report – by Alice Hehir
Cambridge Blue Belles WI have had another great year with a wide ranging series of activities and talks as well as many events taking place outside the regular meetings. Although the membership has remained full at 48 members, sadly we said goodbye to some of the founding members in 2017. We did however welcome 13 new members at the start of January 2018 which has been ably overseen by Lucy and Yvonne.
Our programme has been as varied as our WI members – Rachael in particular has worked hard to ensure there has been a balance of different types of activities and has done an excellent job in sourcing many of our speakers. Melissa has also worked hard in overseeing the finances to ensure we can afford to pay for these talented and inspiring people.
During the year we have had talks on plants, setting up and running your own business, tattooing as well as the history of women and witchcraft. In June, we learnt about the chemical components of plants including their many uses for medicinal and other purposes. During the September meeting, we welcomed Jo Kruczynska who had set up her own local café ‘Afternoon Tease’. We learnt all about the highs and lows (and burns) of making 35 cakes a day! It was a Q&A style session in which Lucy compered the meeting with ease and everyone felt truly inspired by Jo’s talk about pursuing a dream and making it a reality. There was also a talk about tattooing in November. Our speaker, Matt Lodder, discussed the work and life of Jessie Knight who was the best tattoo artist in post-war Britain. March saw Dr Maureen James from ‘Witches and Wisewomen’ giving a talk outlining a short history of English witch craft. During this meeting, Antidote Productions, an all-female documentary production company filmed part of our meeting as well as carried out interviews with some of our members about what gender, womanhood and identity means to them.
A demonstration session was led by Becks Simpson of Thairapy, vintage hair and makeup stylist. During her 90 minute session Becks showed us how to create vintage hairdo’s on our own hair with easy techniques, a few products and basic tools.
We also had a number of active sessions which gave us the opportunity to learn new skills and try things out. In May we honed our rhythmic and musical skills with a Samba drumming session. As part of our Summer Social in July we had the opportunity to learn all about women wine makers from Spain as well sample no less than 6 different wines at the very hospitable Cambridge Wine Merchants. Celebrating summer time in August, we made both fresh and paper flower crowns led by our very own committee with handpicked flowers from Newnam College courtesy of member Mel Hale. A highlight of the year was having the opportunity to make our own chocolates – some of which were given as gifts, others not! In January we all had a go at arm knitting kindly led by Blue Belle Sue Smales.
Many activities have also been carried out in addition to the monthly meetings. Our very own Book Club continues to thrive and they have read a range of books whilst enjoying meeting in both pubs and members’ houses. There have been several trips to the theatre as well as members going to local talks put on by the university.
The enjoyment of tea and cake appears to be a typical WI tradition that we enthusiastically adhere to. Each meeting sees a variety of homemade cakes including those suitable for a range of diets provided by our members. Remke works hard to ensure that we have plenty of cakes and Meeting Fairies each meeting. Our love of cakes was show cased at our very own 4th Craft Fair held in December. Veronika put together a particularly impressive Cake Stall which customers of the fair could enjoy whilst also having the opportunity to browse the many wonderful stalls with crafts sold by local WI members.
We have done our bit to support the campaigns process by holding a postcard writing session to friends far and wide as part of the alleviating loneliness campaign. Lucy also sourced an updated Blue Belle cloth bag as part of the campaign to reduce plastic.
Another fantastic year in the life of Cambridge Blue Belles WI – what an honour to be part of it all!