Chairman's Message Board

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Chairman's Message Board - April 2017

DFWI Autumn Showcase - September 26 2017 at Westpoint, Exeter

An information leaflet about this event will be available in this month’s mail-out so you can start to think about whether you would like to be involved. A booking form will be sent out in the next couple of months.  Click here for more details.

Devon’s email programme

Look out for the ‘Microsoft Office 365 Workshops’ enclosure. These workshops are aimed at WIs who have signed up to our new email project, but will also be of interest to WIs who may be considering joining the project. We have included a Saturday as well as weekdays and will offer more dates as required.

Directory of email addresses

Also in this month’s mail-out you should find a copy of the new Directory of email addresses for the office, newsletter, Board members, WI Advisers and Subcommittee Chairmen. Please use these email addresses when you want to contact us.

Please Note:  the following email addresses are no longer in use by the Office staff so should not be used to communicate with the Office: or

Media Support Group

Are you interested in social media, computers, websites or development of the newsletter? This new group, helping the Federation, might be just for you. Contact me in the first instance if you are interested.

Lonely Bouquet Campaign

This is a lovely idea from NFWI – in collaboration with the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) – Spread a little joy by making a small bouquet or even a single bloom and leave it for a random stranger to find on Friday 5May (National Flower Arranging day). Bouquets can be tagged to give details of which WI made the bouquet with contact details. You should have received a guide from NFWI in their March mailing, if not details will be available on our website or directly from me.

Reminder - 2017 Huxley Cup Competition

This National WI competition aims to find a flower arranger who demonstrates maximum creativity and skill and will be an IMPOSED EXHIBIT and takes place at the Bakewell Show on Wednesday 2 and Thursday 3 August, with the staging day on Tuesday 1 August. This information was first sent to WIs in January, however please contact the Office if you need it again. Closing Date 31 May 2017

IAM Roadsmart

Last year NFWI ran some Driving Days with IAM Roadsmart (previously Institute of advanced Motorists). They were so successful NFWI intend to repeat them. The closest to us will be run at Hayes International Motor Museum, Yeovil, Somerset on Saturday 23 September 2017 at a cost of £45. You can register your interest via email to on a ‘first-come first –served’ basis. Further information on the WI Moodle under General/Sport and Leisure or contact me.

Have a great April and see you at the Spring Council Meeting!

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Chairman's Message Board -  March 2017

Spring Council Meeting (SCM) April 12 2017

I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at the Spring Council meeting, make your bookings as soon as possible, but even if you don’t get this Message Board until after the closing date do enquire at the office for spare seats. Don’t miss Mandy Hickson!

Reminder - ‘Save Denman’ Fundraising - Don’t forget those laundered Scarves for sale at the SCM.

2018 Calendars. We are trying something new this year.

In the past the Delegate who attends the SCM is asked to take a preview calendar back to their WI and the remainder are mailed out to WIs. Each WI is normally asked to purchase at least one calendar. In response to your comments, we will be providing a A3 preview sheet only as an example and asking WIs to order calendars once their members have had chance to see the preview sheet.

Join Devon’s email programme

Sheena McDonald, our web editor, has informed me that she has had a good response to last month’s invitation to join our email programme. In case you missed it, the enclosure has been repeated this month.

Be part of this great project!

Making Devon Federation Dementia Friendly

A number of WIs in Devon have been embracing the Dementia Friendly concept by inviting Heather Penwarden or one of the other Dementia Champions to speak to your WI and then some of you have become Dementia Friends. Others, such as Silverton WI have gone a step further and have opened their own Memory  Café.  

The Board of Trustees would now like to determine if the Devon Federation as a whole would like to become a Dementia Friendly organisation.

Heather has agreed to be Chairman of a small steering committee and we are to inviting members who are interested in joining this committee to contact Heather at

We anticipate the committee would only meet every few months over the next couple of years and would look at what is happening already in the Federation, and share ideas via the Devon newsletter, website and Facebook. In addition the committee will investigate other ideas that the Federation or WIs  could use to help their members who have memory problems and even set up a dementia resource area on our website.  

DFWI 2020 Questionnaire

We had a nearly 70% response rate to our questionnaire, thank you to all the WIs who took part.

There was an overwhelming preference for the large event in 2020 to take place in June, but the preferences for weekday versus weekend were much closer but with the majority happy to attend either, so the final choice will have to be determined by availability of a large enough venue.

Media Support Group

Are you interested in social media, computers, websites, development of the newsletter? This new group might be just for you. Help us to take the Federation forward. Check out the full details in the March Devon Newsletter.

Lots to get your teeth into this month, don't miss out!

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Chairman's Message Board -  February 2017

Change of Address

Please note that our postal address has changed and all correspondence to the Office should now be addressed to:  DFWI, The Firs, Honiton Road, Blackhorse, Exeter, EX5 2FT

Cleaner Wanted!

We are looking for a cleaner for the Firs, 2-3 hours per week, light cleaning only. If anyone knows of anyone who might be interested, please contact the Office, in the first instance, for more details.

Elections for new Board of Trustee members

You will have been expecting election papers with this mailing, however because some of the nominees have withdrawn, an election is no longer necessary. The new Board of Trustees will be announced at the Spring Council Meeting in April.  

Spring Council Meeting (SCM) April 12 2017

Mandy Hickson

Don’t miss this year’s meeting, our speaker Mandy Hickson is truly inspirational. She may not be a familiar name, but once you have heard her, you will never forget her!  Click here for more details.

Bursaries at Spring Council Meeting (for use at Denman)

Don’t forget, in addition to the open Bursaries ( ie all WIs are eligible and no application is required)  there are several individual Bursaries available by application also for presentation at the Spring Council Meeting; the Edna Gould (music, £200) , Molly Nosworthy (craft, £200)  and Rhoda Lee (writing or literature, £250)  Bursaries. There are more details in the SCM Agenda in this month’s mail out or contact the Office for information.

Fund raising for Denman

Please look out for the enclosure this month concerning donation of unwanted scarves for sale at the SCM in April to raise funds for Denman. Remember freshly laundered please!

Autumn County Meeting 2017 – ‘DFWI Autumn Showcase - Harvesting our Talents’- 26 September 2017

As I have previously mentioned the Board has been considering having a change of format and I can now give you some preliminary information and a date to put in your diaries.

We know that lots of you organise successful events for your individual WIs, so on 26 September 2017 at Westpoint in Exeter we are going invite WIs to participate in a brand new event  ‘the DFWI Autumn Showcase’. Stalls will be available for you to show the rest of us what you are doing; if you make things you will be able to display and sell  them, if you have good ideas, you can advertise them. If you wish, there will also be an opportunity to make a short presentation, with your ‘Success stories’, during the morning session.

We are still in the planning stages but hope you will think about coming along and inspiring the rest of us. More details in future mail outs, but never too early to start thinking about what you would like to do.

Join Devon’s email programme

Sheena McDonald, our web editor, has been working incredibly hard to get this project up and running and it is now ready for WI officers and individual WIs to get involved. Check out the enclosure in this month’s mail-out and sign up today!  Trust me, it is not that difficult, I managed  to do it!  Help will be available.

Devon County Show Remembers  18 - 20 May 2017

If you are interested in making poppies for the display at the Devon County Show as mentioned in the December Message Board, I have prepared an Information pack with Patterns. Please contact the Office if you would like a copy either mailed or emailed to you.  Click here for more details.

Invitation to be part of Food Waste Reduction Initiative.

I have been contacted by Claire Mountjoy, Devon Community Engagement Coordinator,  to let you know that this group wants to recruit volunteers  in the Tiverton and Mid – Devon area for their ‘exciting new initiative to reduce food waste and get local people together to eat’.  For more information and to find out about Love Food Hate Waste Training days check out their website:

NHS Review

In March 2016 the NHS Shared Planning Guidance asked every local health and care system in England to develop proposals and make improvements to health and care. These proposals are called Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and they are place-based and built around the needs of the local  population. 44 STPs have now been published for every part of England.

You can view the Wider Devon STP on the following website

The STPS are all at different stages, even within Devon itself, with consultation being sought in South Devon and Torbay and East Devon on changes to community services, whilst in North Devon provision of Acute services (A&E, Paediatrics, Stroke Units etc) are under discussion.  

Patients, the public and NHS staff are now being asked to help to develop and shape these proposals.

I know many of you have already been involved in campaigns in your local areas, keep up the good work! However many of us, myself included, have only recently become aware of the implications of some of the proposals. If you want to have any input on these proposals then you will have to get involved.

At a recent SOHS (Save our Hospital Services) meeting Sally Wilson and I attended, people were encouraged to write to their local MP expressing their concerns, or write to the STP Lead (Devon) Angela Pedder, or to Simon Stevens Chief Executive NHS England.

It is not DFWI’s place to tell you what to do, we just want to keep you informed, but if you are concerned about the proposals, you will have to find out what is happening in your part of Devon and then you can decide what you can do.  

For more information on SOHS check out the website or their Facebook page Save Our Hospital Services Devon and find details of a National March in London on 4th March.

DFWI 2020 Questionnaire

Thank you to all the WIs who completed the questionnaire, even though the deadline has passed if you haven’t yet sent it in please do so, we need all of your input to make this an event to remember.

Don’t forget to send back the NFWI questionnaire 'Our WI, Our Future' (to NFWI),whose deadline has been extended to 28th February.

Devon village/town nicknames

For something completely different, Todd Gray, the Devon historian who many of you will have heard speak

at a village or WI meeting is working in association with the Devonshire Association to develop some lectures on the distinctiveness of Devon and one of his themes will be the names which Devonians give to one another. For example Cadeleigh’s nickname is Hens, Chagford’s is Chuggy pigs and Challacombe‘s is Horniwinks. If any members have knowledge of other nicknames for their own or any village in Devon he would love to hear from you.  Contact him direct at

Welcome to 2017.   And you thought this was a quiet time of year, however as you can see, lots of things to get your teeth into!

With my best wishes

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Chairman's Message Board -  December 2016

New WIs

Great news, Exminster WI will be having a formation meeting at 7.30pm at the Victory Hall Exminster on 24 January 2017. This follows a preliminary meeting at the end of October, to determine if there was enough interest in setting up the WI when 89 ladies turned up! Exminster WI  will meet on the 4th Monday of every month at 7.30pm.

Cranbrook WI. A preliminary meeting for this new WI is scheduled for 7 December at 7.30pm at the Education Campus at Cranbrook (Tilehouse Road, Cranbrook, EX5 7EE) and if there is sufficient interest a formation meeting will take place on 4 January 2017.

There are also discussions underway for another new WI and I will let you know more details when they are available. Our thanks go to the Advisers;  setting up new WIs takes a lot of time and effort. Well done all of you!

Devon County Show Remembers 18 - 20 May 2017

As the centenary of the First World War continues, the Craft and Garden Marquee at Devon County Show 2017 is creating a carpet of handmade poppies as a tribute to the 11,000 Devon men and women who lost their lives  in the First World War. We have been approached by Deborah Custance Baker, the Chief Steward of the Marquee, where we also have our stand every year, to ask if members would like to participate in making a poppy and adding it to the carpet. There will also be an opportunity to include a dedication in  their Dedication Book with your poppy. This sounds like a lovely idea and something I am sure you would like to take part in. Look out for more details/ patterns, etc. in the New Year.

A Message from your County Treasurer

A little reminder that no one should be out of pocket when doing things for your WI. Make sure everyone knows they are entitled to claim expenses. Wherever possible try to support these claims with receipts so that you can keep your accounts straight.

Corrections : For your information:   

  • In the Devon Federation Denman Break enclosure, the dates should read FRIDAY 29 September – SUNDAY 1 October 2017  
  • For the Portsmouth trip on 29-30 June 2017 there WILL also be a coach pick up point at Newton Abbot.

Merry Christmas and Thanks.

A shorter Message Board this month, but I don’t want to miss this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and  a Happy New Year.  The Federation continues to thrive and new WIs are opening around the County and it is all due to your continuing support and enthusiasm.  

A big thank you to the Board of Trustees, Subcommittee members,  Advisers and Office staff for all your hard work this year  and a special thank you to Joyce Ridgwell, our Newsletter Editor and the members who come into The Firs and package up the newsletters and enclosures ready  for mailing out to you every month. We do appreciate you all, but don’t perhaps say it often enough.

With my very best wishes

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Chairman's Message Board - November 2016

Autumn Council Meeting

For those of you who were unable to join us at the Autumn Council meeting at Barnstaple, you missed a great day. The highlight was obviously Michael Bowyer who produced some truly magnificent floral arrangements, whilst amusing us with his stories and anecdotes. Eight lucky ladies took home the arrangements  after they were raffled at the end of the day.

In addition, we found out about the Crimestoppers organisation and how Devon County Council is dealing with Emergency Planning in our county. Entertainment at the end of the morning was provided by the Jubilee Singers and at the end of the day by our terrific Rap winners: the Gangsta Fairy, Kate Jackson  and Cedric the Dragon accompanied by Catherine Bowness. There is a lot of talent out there just waiting to be discovered!

There are some great photos on our Facebook page, do check them out.

Denman Bursaries

I have details ofseveral Bursaries available for the 2016/17 programme year to be used on open courses taking place before 30 September 2017. These include bursaries for first timers, Spring flings, carer bursaries and travel bursaries, most around £250 each, so well worth enquiring about.

The Closing date for applications is however 25 November 2016 so contact the Federation Office as soon as possible for more information and how to apply.

Diabetes Research Project

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust are running a Diabetes Research project and are looking for volunteers, both with and without diabetes to take part. The project involves collection of clinical information, non-invasive samples (urine) and a blood sample.  

For more information please contact Pauline Fitzell, Research Team Leader at or on 01803 656616.

Devon WI Calendar – For those of you like me are easily confused with forward planning, the closing date for receipt of photos for the 2018 calendar is 9 December 2016. The theme for 2018 is ‘Sunrise/Sunset’, so still a little  time to get that perfect shot!

The theme forthe 2019 calendar is ‘Devon’s Farming Year’. So get snapping so you don't miss those lovely wintery scenes.

British Royal Legion - 2016 Devon Festival of Remembrance

This event will take place in Exeter Cathedral on Thursday 10 November at 7.30pm and will remember especially the human sacrifice of two of the most devastating battles of the Great War, 'The Somme' and 'Jutland'. Contact the Cathedral for more information and tickets.

Campaigns and Resolutions

Unfortunately none of the Devon Resolutions reached the shortlist this year but you will be able to find out more about the ones that did, from the Resolution meetings which have been planned to take place around the County in November.  Details are with your Secretaries.

If you are in the mood for some campaigning, I have a few suggestions on the next page; from getting milk next to the sandwiches in your local supermarket to letting your MP know how you feel about the current crisis in Community Hospital provision in Devon or asking them to make tackling climate change  a priority.

Sylvia Crocker's (Lewtrenchard WI) hints on how to get fresh milk next to the takeaway sandwiches in your local supermarket

  1. Check out the sandwich section in the store. Is there any fresh milk available in single pints?  
  2. If not go to customer services and suggest that 1 pint cartons be displayed alongside the sandwiches.  
  3. Provide the following information to go with your suggestion: (a written note is probably best)  
  • Milk provides a healthy alternative to the sugary drinks that are probably there already.  
  • In addition to being healthy, milk is better for rehydration after exercise.  
  • Sales have improved through this campaign - cite Launceston Tesco, the first store who tried this initiative, found they had to restock the milk several times a day. Crediton, Tavistock, Callington and Roborough Tesco's had similar responses and Morrisons are now on board.  
  • Add any other thoughts you may have, but politely!  
  1. Ask to see the meat/dairy manager and repeat the above.  
  2. Tell your fellow WI members and friends to do the same at their local supermarkets.  
  3. Return to the store if nothing has happened and repeat the request, use 'Pester power'. If the milk is displayed praise BIG time, all stores thrive on praise and happy customers!  

There will be more information on our Facebook page and if you would like to talk to Sylvia she is happy to discuss the project, but remember she is a busy farmer's wife. Contact me if you would like her contact details.

Crisis in Community Hospital Provision in Devon

You will be aware that we are facing a crisis in the way our community hospitals are being run. Hospitals across Devon are faced with widespread closures of their medical beds, which would significantly affect our members, many of whom live in rural locations with poor access to transport systems.  

Heather Penwarden, the Health Care representative on the International and Public Affairs subcommittee, met with MP Neil Parish and raised this issue and this resulted in a Parliamentary debate on Tuesday 18 October on the matter.

WI members were invited to contact their local MPs to express their concern prior to the debate but with such short notice we were only able to inform members via our Facebook page and by cascading the information from the WI Advisers to their local WIs. However the message obviously did get through  as the 'inspiring ladies of Devon WI' were mentioned during the debate.

Many of you will be aware of the situation by also being members of hospitals’ League of Friends, Patients Voices, etc. Even though the debate has taken place there is still work to be done and members can now do what WI members do very well and continue to voice your concerns through attending  public meetings and writing to the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, your MPs, and councillors with your specific comments or concerns.

Climate Change

Pat Wyatt, chairman of Environment and Rural Affairs subcommittee recently contacted Neil Parish, Devon MP and Chair of the EFRA Select committee, during the Week of Action (8-16 October), indicating that WI members are concerned about climate change and its consequences and urged him to support turning  the Climate Change Act into reality.  If you would like to do something more following the Week of Action, check out the Event guide sent to your WI from NFWI for more ideas.

Not just Jam and Jerusalem then? Let’s get out there and make a difference!

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Chairman's Message Board - October 2016

Autumn Council Meeting
I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at the Autumn Council meeting in Barnstaple.  It should be a great day.  If you haven’t ordered tickets yet there still may be some spare seats, contact the Office and check!  Please note that the Park & Ride at Barnstaple is now closed.

Congratulations to Sylvia Crocker, Lewtrenchard WI.  You may recall in May that I mentioned Sylvia's campaign to encourage supermarkets to stock milk in a more prominent place, which was successful in a number of Tesco stores in Devon. An article in the September WI Life hopefully will encourage other WIs around the country to use a little 'pester power' to urge their local supermarkets to follow suit.

Hand-made Poppies.  I have been contacted by Jenny Liggins who has been making poppies for the British Legion since 2011 and to date has raised over £10,000 for the Legion.  She is contacting us now as she would like to prepare for 2018 which will be a very special year and wonders whether the WI would like to join her in this project in the Exeter area.  The poppies are varied with knitted, crocheted, felted and polyester organza examples.  If any WIs are interested in joining her group to make poppies, please contact Jenny directly for more details at

WI Fair at Alexandra Palace  29-30 March 2017.  In response to your requests the Federation has organised a coach trip to attend the WI Fair in Alexandra Palace in March 2017.  The flyer is with your Secretaries now.  To make the most of the trip we have included a visit to Kew Gardens on the way up to London and an overnight stay so we will have a full day at the WI Fair before coming home.  This should be a great trip so don't miss out!

NFWI Mailings. Your Secretary should have received the latest mailings from National, which includes a couple of questionnaires on one of this year's Resolutions 'Avoid food waste, address food poverty' and a campaign action pack for the other Resolution 'Carers welcome'.  Let's all get behind these Resolutions!

Talking of Resolutions  I am pleased to be able to announce that 4 WIs from Devon have put forward Resolutions for consideration in 2017.  Well done to Stoke Gabriel, Down St Mary, Down Thomas & Heybrook Bay and Plymouth Hartley WIs.  Their proposals will all be discussed on 29th September in London and I will let you know if they get selected to go forwards.

Annual National Council Meeting. Sally Wilson, the Federation Treasurer and myself will be attending the ANC meeting on 7-9 October in Bedfordshire along with the other 68 Federations.  I will be able to provide a brief report on the meeting at the Autumn Council meeting and in the next Message board.  The topics included are federation success stories, the role of key federation contacts, the Resolution process review and WI membership.  Plenty of scope for some lively discussion by the sounds of it.

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Chairman's Message Board - September 2016

Autumn Council Meeting
It’s not too late to book your tickets for the Autumn Council meeting, come and join us for another great day.  Michael Bowyer should not be missed!

In line with current Health and Safety regulations we will be asking everyone to register on the day. This should be quick and simple, but we do ask you to bear with us as this is the first time we have attempted this!  Remember to bring your entry ticket. More details of procedure involved will be sent out with the tickets.

Summer show results
This year’s competition theme was ‘A Season’ which obviously appealed as there were increased entries at both shows. Check out the photos on our Facebook page. Congratulations to all of you!

Mid Devon Show – Winner and People’s Choice -Withleigh WI. Some lateral thinking on their part as their entry was ‘The Prom Season.’

In the individual competitions the winning Quiche was made by Sally Butler (Tiverton and Bampton WI) and Pauline Pym’s (Uplowman WI) beautiful Otter won her the first prize in the painting class.

Okehampton Show – Okehampton WI was the winner, with ‘Autumn’ and Bridestowe WI the People’s Choice with ‘Winter’.

Even though we did not have a competition at the North Devon Show we still had a presence and my thanks go to members of Foods Crafts and Skills, the Advisers and demonstrators who attended and to South Molton WI who put together their own stand. Inspiring women!

Email Project
Since the beginning of the year we have been working on our email project which will introduce our own domain name We are one of the first WI federations to do this. As you will see in the next edition of DFWI News all of our Board of Trustees are now using the new email addresses and in the next few months all WI Advisers, subcommittee members and DFWI staff will also be up and running. The long term plan is to introduce the new domain and email addresses to all WIs in Devon. We have already been working with several WIs who have been piloting and testing the new system. If you are interested in getting involved and would like to know more about the project please get in touch with Sheena McDonald, our website editor -   There will be more information in the next monthly mailing pack.

90 cakes for the Queen
Whilst we did not achieve the target, a number of ladies from WIs around the County did participate in the Upload event at Exeter Cathedral for the Queen’s Birthday. There are now some photos and a thankyou from Reverend James Grier, the organiser, on our Facebook page.  Carol Adams from Holcombe Rogus WI was a runner up with her lovely Silhouette cake. Thank you to all who took part.  
Perhaps we could try something similar for the Federation Centenary in 2020?

Read Easy - Torquay, Paignton area
Read Easy, a voluntary group that helps adults learn to read, are desperate to recruit some more Reading Coaches in the Torquay, Paignton area. If anyone is interested please contact them via their website You will notice that this scheme also runs in other parts of Devon so worth looking at even if you don’t live in Torbay or Paignton and would like to help.

Local Food Resource booklet - Woolsery WI’s project
You may recall (May Message Board) that at the Food Security Day, Jan Ashworth from Woolsery WI described how her WI had developed a booklet called a Local Food Resource, providing information for her own community and visitors to enable them to find local food producers.  Jan has since featured in August Devon Life and is now encouraging other WIs to follow her lead and produce their own Local Food Resource booklet, involving farmers, shop keepers, pubs and other local producers.  
See Jan’s link for help in setting up your own booklet :

The role of the WI in the advancement of women's rights since 1915.
Chloe French a Master’s student at the Royal Agricultural University is undertaking the above project and would like to contact WIs who would be interested in participating.
Contact her directly at:

Holidays in Retirement
Professor Gareth Shaw at the University of Exeter is conducting a project on people’s holiday making before and after retirement. The aim is to develop understanding of holidays and wellbeing in retirement. If you are interested in participating in a questionnaire related to this project please contact either Paul Cleave at or Isabel Gee at

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Chairman's Message Board - July 2016

Resolution Results – Correction
If you attended the Annual Meeting at Brighton, you may have been a little confused by the results of the Resolution voting. I have been sent a correction and apology for the mistake from NFWI. With respect of the resolution entitled ‘Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia’ the resolution was passed with 79.4% as announced at the Annual Meeting, however  the correct numbers of votes cast for the above resolution were as follows:
Votes cast in favour:  4,920   (not 3,305 as announced at the meeting)
Votes cast against: 1,274  (not 856 as announced at the meeting)

NFWI Resolution Submissions 2016/17
Is there a really burning issue you would like to take forward for the WI to campaign on? This is your opportunity to submit a resolution for consideration. For more details please contact me as soon as possible as the closing date is 14th September 2016.

Autumn Council Meeting – Barnstaple, Wednesday 12th October 2016
Look out for the enclosure in this month’s mailout. Our main speaker Michael Bowyer, I am sure will be familiar to many of you. He was the principal organiser of the Flower festival in Salisbury Cathedral held in September last year and has entertained us before with his flamboyant style of flower arranging and floral design. We also have a speaker from Crimestoppers, an item on Emergency Planning as well as the Jubilee singers and to finish off the day, some of the Radio Devon competition winners performing their own Raps!  Don’t miss out on another great day.

We will be presenting the Chairman’s Rose Bowl at the Autumn Council Meeting for that member who has ‘gone that extra mile’ for the WI or the wider community. A letter detailing your reasons for nominating the member should be sent to the Federation Office (The Firs) to arrive no later than 2nd September 2016.
We will also be awarding the Florence Maisie Smith Music Bursary and the Dorothy Riding Bursary (see Denman enclosure).  Contact the Office as soon as possible to find out more details and how to apply for both of these.

Sub-committee vacancies
Are you interested in getting more involved with Federation activities? The best way to start is by joining one of our subcommittees. The Foods, Crafts and Skills Subcommittee and the Sport and Leisure Subcommittee are both looking for more members. Their newsletter columns will give you an idea of what events they organize but if you think you might be interested in joining them contact the relevant Chairman, Janet Connolly (FCS) and Rita Nebbett (S&L) to find out more. Give it a go you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Associated Country Women of the World – Pennies (Coins) for Friendship
We received a lovely letter from Helena Alty, ACWW, thanking us for the donation of £5,448.19 from the Pennies (Coins) for Friendship collections. She asked me to pass on their thanks to the members of the Devon WIs for their wonderful generosity and support of the work of ACWW which connects and supports women and communities worldwide.  So, well done ladies, keep up the good work!

Adult colouring
Have you or your WI tried adult colouring or taken it up as a regular hobby? If you have, Hattie Parrish from WI Life at would like to hear from you. She would like to know about your experiences – whether or not you enjoyed it, what you get out of it , why you do it, etc  for a feature in WI Life on this new craze.

Stewards for Council Meetings and other events
Thank you to all the ladies who have expressed interest in being part of our Steward Scheme. We haven’t forgotten you, and will be in touch shortly to let you know when we hope to run a training day at The Firs.

Volunteering during International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks
In September up to one thousand delegates will be coming to Torbay from all around the world to attend the above conference. The conference will take place over 4 days at the Riviera Centre in Torquay and the organisers thought that some of our members in the area might be interested in attending the conference as volunteers, for welcoming, registration, providing information etc.  For more information contact me in the first instance.

Julie Ayre, Federation Chairman

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Chairman's Message Board - June 2016

Follow up from Spring Council Meeting –Role of Holding Trustees
If you were at the Spring Council Meeting you may remember that we introduced members of the Board of Trustees, Subcommittee Chairmen and Holding Trustees, so that you can more easily put a face to a name. Several members said that they were unclear about the role of the Holding Trustees and so I would like to clarify this for you:  

The Devon Federation of Women’s Institutes is unincorporated ie it is not a corporate body and consequently the following apply:

  • Members of the Board of Trustees are personally liable for what the Federation does.
  • The Federation is not able to enter into contracts or control some investments in its own name.
  • The 'Holding Trustees' have to 'hold' any land on our Federation's behalf, ie. they are owners of the legal title to the land, in this case, 'The Firs'.

New Federation Secretary
I am pleased to announce that Katharine Bailey, our new Federation Secretary, started work in the Office on 24th May.  I am hoping that she will put a photo and brief profile in next month’s newsletter, so that you can get to know her.  Please make her welcome and do be patient as she settles in.

Twinning with Powys Brecknock Federation
Rita Nebbett, Carmen Luscombe, Catherine Williams (all members of the Board of Trustees) and myself attended Powys Brecknock Federation Annual meeting on 17th May as part of our twinning project. They made us feel incredibly welcome and it was lovely to meet up with a number of the members from Powys Brecknock Federation and to start thinking about how we can work and arrange events together.   Walking trips in the Brecon Beacons immediately come to mind for our Federation and several ladies from Powys asked about trips to the seaside, something they don’t have there.  Of course we suggested they couldn’t go wrong with either the north or the south coast! A couple of ladies also asked if anyone was going to the Tea and Tent Festival later this year as they would like to meet up. Let me know if you are going and I will pass on your names.

Resolution amendments announcement
We have been informed by NFWI that the 6 proposed amendments to the 2016 resolutions, which you may have heard about from a number of sources, HAVE NOT been accepted by the NFWI Board of Trustees so this year WIs do not need to discuss any amendments. The wordings of the resolutions under debate at this year’s Annual meeting in Brighton remain unchanged.

Mapping Exeter’s ‘Tree Tales’
I have been contacted by a local charity that champions local distinctiveness, Common Ground, and they are gathering stories and memories about the trees of Exeter so that they can produce a book and create a map. If you think you might like to take part please let me know and I will forward you some additional information. The group will also give small presentations at WIs on request.

National Glaucoma Awareness week - June 6th – 12th
Glaucoma is the most common cause of preventable blindness in the UK and in its early stages there are often few symptoms. Women not only outlive men but also outnumber men in glaucoma cases worldwide and glaucoma is much more common among older people. The International Glaucoma Association want to raise awareness of this condition and have sent me some information with details of a National Glaucoma Awareness week Pack which they will forward to you if you would like it.

If you are interested in any of the above and would like to put your name forward or would like more information please contact me in the first instance, unless specified otherwise.

Julie Ayre, Federation Chairman

Click here if you would like to download a pdf version of this message board


Chairman's Message Board - May 2016

Spring Council Meeting –Riviera Centre, Torquay 13th April 2016
I hope you all enjoyed the Spring Council meeting as much as I did? The weather was perfect, the venue was first class and we didn’t have a fire alarm! All of the presentations were excellent.

Benjamin Mee our main speaker was inspirational and we hope to establish some closer contacts with Dartmoor Zoo in the future. Keep a look out for more details later this year.

Tony Potter talking about the North Devon Charity, the Calvert Trust also seemed to touch people as a bucket collection from individual members raised over £850.

Joseph Harvey revealed some of the secrets of Torre Abbey Historic House and Gardens located just a stone’s throw from the Riviera Centre, well worth a visit next time you are in Torquay.

As usual our own local talent also kept us well entertained. Thank you to all the ladies involved in giving us a lovely taster of ‘100 years of what we wore’ and to the Torbay WI singers who so beautifully finished off the day.
Lastly a big thank you to all of you who came along on the day, without your support and enthusiasm these events would just not take place. I hope you will return to your WIs and encourage more of your members to come along next year.

Food Security Day – Longdown, 25th April 2016
I was fortunate to be able to attend the Food Security Day recently. We are sorry we couldn’t fit you all in as it was heavily oversubscribed.  This was an excellent day organised by Environment and Rural Affairs Subcommittee with speakers from the producer and retail sides, resulting in some interesting and challenging discussions. In addition a couple of ideas were raised from the audience which might be of interest to WIs:

Jan Ashworth from Woolsery WI described how her WI developed a booklet called a Local Food Resource, providing information for her own community and visitors to enable them to find local food producers.

Sylvia Crocker from Lewtrenchard WI encouraged members to visit their local supermarket and suggest to the Manager that they should include single pints of milk alongside their sandwich/lunch displays in the chiller cabinets as a way of supporting our dairy farmers.

The Environment and Rural Affairs Subcommittee will be circulating more information shortly about these relatively simple projects so that you too can make a difference in your community.

Member Representation on NFWI Committees
If there are any members who have a skill or expertise in any field which may be beneficial to an NFWI committee (for example science, education, arts, crafts, sport or campaign work) and would like to be nominated by the Federation to sit on one of the NFWI committees, please contact me for further details. 

Spoons - A Stirring Tale!
This is a collaborative project between the NFWI Craft committee and Salisbury Museum to encourage WI members to knit and stitch spoons, based around the collection of spoons found in the museum. All of the pieces will be sent to a ceramics artist for dipping in porcelain and once fired the completed items will then be exhibited. More details and dates of the workshops are available on the Moodle or from me.

If you are interested in any of the above and would like to put your name forward or would like more information please contact me in the first instance, unless specified otherwise.

Julie Ayre, Federation Chairman

Click here if you would like to print or download a pdf version of this message board.


Chairman's Message Board - April 2016

Farewell to Susie
After only a short time with us, Susie Peat our Federation Secretary has decided to leave. We are sorry to see her go and wish her well for the future.  We are currently advertising for a new Federation Secretary. Please contact the Office for further information if you or anyone you know, might be interested in applying for the position.  

Federation Quiz winners
The Quiz final was held at Clyst St Mary Village Hall on Saturday March 19th and I am pleased to be able to announce the winners were:                                                                                                                                                                                    
1st Aylesbeare WI,  2nd North Tawton WI,  Joint 3rd Chudleigh and Wellswood WIs.

An enjoyable afternoon was had by all and a delicious tea was supplied by the Catering committee. Our thanks to Margaret Craig and the International and Public Affairs Subcommittee for organising the Quiz this year and thanks to all WIs who helped with organisation and catering in the Area rounds last month.

2016 Annual Meeting Resolutions
The Public Affairs Team at NFWI have produced a range of resources to support WI discussions of the two resolutions which will be taken forward to Brighton on 11th June. These include, detailed briefing notes, online quizzes, power point presentations etc. These are all available for downloading from the NFWI website.

There will also be some Social Media Q&A sessions which you can access via Twitter using the #WIresolutions or by posting on the Women's Institute Facebook page on 7th April 3pm and 6pm, 20th April 3pm and 6pm or 4th May 3pm and 6pm.

Moodle – Digital Storytelling
Val Andrews (Head of NFWI Unit) has informed us that the Training Committee of the NFWI have developed a new interactive course for the Moodle on how to create your own Digital Story. A digital story is like a talking scrapbook and can be shared in all sorts of ways with friends and family; in exhibitions; in presentations and online. Perfect for your WI or Federation Celebrations. Please go to for more information.

This ties in nicely with the NFWI Science and Leisure Committee competition - Elizabeth Bell Challenge 2016 'To create a Digital Story' WIs are challenged to 'Create a digital story showing the impact that the WI has had on their community'. All entries must be judged in the first instance at Federation level.  Closing date to Federation - 25th October 2016. Contact the Federation office for further information and entry forms.

Bake a cake to celebrate the Queen's 90th Birthday
We have been invited to join the Diocese of Exeter's celebration of the Queen's birthday by participating in a cake competition on Saturday 11th June 2016 at Exeter Cathedral.  The Diocese are organising an event called UPLOAD which they hope will attract over 1000 young people from across the South West. They have invited members of the Devon Federation to make and decorate at least 90 cakes for a display which will then be judged by the Bishops of Exeter and Crediton and some young people and the cakes will then be eaten.

The competition is open to all members and details of how to register your interest is provided in the enclosure in this month's mailout.  This is your chance to show off your baking and decorating skills!  
Please note, this event will take place on the same day as our Annual Meeting at Brighton.

If you are interested in any of the above and would like to put your name forward or would like more information please contact me in the first instance, unless specified otherwise.

Julie Ayre, Federation Chairman

Click here if you would like to print or download a pdf version of this message board.


Chairman's Message Board - March 2016

March 2016

WI visits to the Firs

We are now in a position to receive members at The Firs to see the new County House, however we have to be careful not to disrupt the office work too much so the visits will have to be spread across the year and avoid obvious busy times. If your WI would like to visit can you please email the office and provide a couple of alternative dates. Please bear in mind that there are over 200 WIs in Devon and only 192 working days available in a 12 month period so you will need to be flexible and patient. We will also be considering evening visits in the summer but they will need a little more organising as this will be out of working hours.

Devon County Council –Emergency Planning Team
This Team need volunteers to:
-   support people when an emergency arises
-   support evacuated people and ensure Rest Centres are open to
provide shelter, warmth and refreshments
-   join crisis support teams

They hope to start some Rest Centre Training shortly so if you think you might be interested in helping contact them directly, either

via the emergency planning coordinator on 01392 382 401  

You can also find out more about the DCC Emergency Planning Team  at the Autumn Council Meeting in Barnstaple on Wednesday 12th October 2016, as one of their members will be there as an invited speaker.

Second call for New County Treasurer
As I indicated in last month's Message Board Valerie Styles, who has been your County Treasurer for the past 10 years, will be retiring from the position in May 2016. As the response to my call for an interested member to come forward was a bit disappointing! I am putting out a second call to our members to see if there is someone with accountancy, banking skills or other relevant experience who might be willing to stand as the next County Treasurer?  You would be ably assisted and supported by our Bookkeeper and the rest of the office staff as well as the Board of Trustees.

Second Call for Stewards
The response to this was better than for the Treasurer but we still have plenty of spaces available. For your information Health and Safety legislation requires that major events, such as the Spring and Autumn Council Meetings and the Carol Service should be adequately stewarded.  The Board of Trustees has suggested that we establish a group of dedicated stewards, who would receive special training for the positions.  We would hope to have 20-30 members around the County so that they would not be expected to attend all events but just those in their vicinity, if required. Obviously travel and other related expenses would be covered, but you do need to be physically fit to take on this role.  The details have yet to be worked out, but I will keep you informed.

If you are interested in any of the above and would like to put your name forward or would like more information please contact me in the first instance, unless specified otherwise.

Julie Ayre, Federation Chairman


Chairman's Message Board - February 2016

In an attempt to keep members up to date with events taking place in the Devon Federation and nationwide, I am instituting this 'Message Board' which will be included in your monthly mail-outs. I do not anticipate that it will be used every month but on an ad hoc basis, as and when required. I hope you will find it useful. This information will also be available on our Devon WI Facebook page (Facebook Devon WI) and our website (  

New County Treasurer
Valerie Styles, who has been your County Treasurer for the past 10 years, will be retiring from the position in May 2016. I am sure you would all like to join me in thanking Valerie for all her hard work keeping the Federation finances in tip top condition. We will miss Valerie's input greatly and obviously we will need to replace her as soon as possible. The Board of Trustees has suggested that we should put out a call to our members to see if there is someone with accountancy, banking skills or other relevant experience who might be willing to stand as the next County Treasurer?  You would be ably assisted and supported by our Bookkeeper and the rest of the office staff as well as the Board of Trustees.

Devon Resolution
As I indicated in my address at the Autumn Council meeting 2015 I would very much like to reintroduce a 'Devon Resolution' involving a locally based campaign on an issue that you feel strongly about and hopefully something we can actually make happen here in Devon.  Resolutions require careful organisation and wording to be effective and take time to get right and so I am asking that you consider this proposal and forward any preliminary suggestions to me. Remember it will be up to an individual WI to put forward the resolution and work on it, however the Board of Trustees and our Resolutions Adviser, will be there to assist you.  

Health and Safety legislation requires that major events, such as the Spring and Autumn Council Meetings and the Carol Service should be adequately stewarded.  The Board of Trustees has suggested that we establish a group of dedicated stewards, who would receive special training for the positions.  We would hope to have 20-30 members around the County so that they would not be expected to attend all events but just those in their vicinity, if required. Obviously travel and other related expenses would be covered, but you do need to be physically fit to take on this role.  The details have yet to be worked out, but I will keep you informed.

If you are interested in any of the above and would like to put your name forward or would like more information please contact me in the first instance. Contact details at the bottom of the page.

Flood update
I have included the following message from Janice Langley, Chair of the NFWI:
"We are all thinking of everyone affected by the floods and will do our best to help as much as we can. In the first instance, we are finding out from all the affected federations what help is required in both the short and long term. Once we have all the information, we will contact all federations and let them know how they and their members can help those in the affected areas. In the meantime, the NFWI website has the most up to date information about relief organizations operating in the flooded areas. Everyone affected will remain in our thoughts."

We have not received any information as yet from the NFWI but I will pass this on as soon as it arrives. However if you have already planned fund raising events, can I bring the following to your attention from Jana Osborne, NFWI

General Secretary:
"Please note that we have clarified the following with the Charity Commission:
Federations and WIs in the affected areas are allowed to contribute to general flood relief funds operating in their areas, for example Lancashire Federation and WIs are allowed to contribute to the Flood Relief Fund operating in Lancashire; Federations and WIs in non-affected areas cannot use federation or WI funds for donations to general flood relief funds; donations must be made by individuals.  The same applies for inter-federation donations

Julie Ayre, Federation Chairman