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Chairman's Letter

August 2019

Hello ladies,

I am writing this on a very cold day, not a bit like summer! I hope the weather is not spoiling your WI activities.

What a great three days we had up at Detling for the Kent Show. I did enjoy meeting some of you at the Huxley Cup Competition tent. I have been out and about again this month seeing you at Group meetings. On a trip to the Isle of Wight with another WI member from the Heart of England WI we attended a meeting of the Ningwood and Shalfleet WI where they made us most welcome.

Since I last wrote to you, we have had an Inter-Federation Meeting of Chairmen led by Lynne Stubbings the NFWI Chairman. It was held at Bearsted & Thurnham's WI Hall which is 98 years old and we were fed and watered by Bearsted Green WI. Thanks to both WIs.

I do hope that you are looking online at the West Kent News or reading it from the paper copy. I hope you think we have improved it over the last few issues. Please keep sending in your news to us as we like to know what you have been doing. A big thank you to the West Kent News Team.

By the time you read this the car park at Ethel Hunt Lodge will have been resurfaced. It was long overdue and will save members getting their feet wet in the puddles.

So ladies, enjoy the rest of your summer with your families and friends and I hope to see you all soon.

Jane Backshall

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July 2019

Hello ladies,

Here we are again; another month has whizzed by. I hope you have all been out and about in the mostly beautiful weather.

I was delighted to meet so many of you at the Home Economics days at Ditton. I have been to quite a few WIs in the last month and one Group meeting at Crayford, a celebration of May Day. I went to Bournemouth for the NFWI Annual Meeting along with 45 delegates and 19 observers, 2 reps, Anne Harris and 2 stewards, all of us representing West Kent Federation. The discussions were long and hard but very interesting so look out for your delegate's report.

I do hope that your Annual Meetings have gone well and I look forward to hearing about your plans for the year.

I hope you all have a great summer enjoying gatherings with WI friends and your families.

Yours in friendship

Jane Backshall

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June 2019

Hello Ladies,

I do hope you are enjoying the lighter evenings when you are out at your meetings. My first couple of months as your Chairman has been a busy time visiting some of you at your celebratory meetings. Congratulations to those WIs who reached a century last month.

Thank you for all your comments regarding the ACM in Tunbridge Wells. I can assure you that we do listen to what you tell us and we will try to take appropriate action where necessary. By the time you read this I shall be with many of you from West Kent who have attended the AGM at Bournemouth. It will be interesting to hear what the rest of the country has to say about the resolutions; maybe one of West Kent's WIs will put together a resolution for another year.

Thank you for all the cards and letters we received telling us how much you enjoyed the ACM and the recent visit to Denman. Our thanks go to Sheila Miles for all the hard work she put into everyone having a good time at Denman. Sheila, with two new helpers, Barbara Bickell and Amanda Breach from Petts Wood, are busy finalising our visit next year.

Yours in friendship

Jane Backshall

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May 2019

Hello Ladies,

Within West Kent Federation of WIs the appointment of the Chairman of Trustees takes place immediately after the Annual Council Meeting at Tunbridge Wells. I feel very honoured and delighted to have been elected as Chairman for the next year. Annette Smith will be a hard act to follow. I live near Maidstone, married to Derek with two daughters and three grandchildren. I have been a member of Bearsted Green WI since 2000.

I hope that, with the rest of the Trustees and the very helpful office staff, we will continue to serve West Kent well. As I said at Tunbridge Wells, we have a lot of interesting events for you in the coming year so please check every month in the West Kent News and on Facebook.

I look forward to meeting many of you at events around our Federation or at your regular monthly meeting.

Best wishes

Jane Backshall

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March 2019

Three years have gone by very quickly, and it seems strange to think this is my last letter to you as Chairman of the Federation. Although we don’t have a rule concerning length of tenure in this role, it feels to me the right time to step down, and allow someone else the opportunity to head our Board of Trustees.

A great deal has happened during my term of office including our Centenary, and I have been immensely fortunate to have worked with so many excellent people as we have done our best to meet the challenges facing our organisation both locally and nationally. I owe so much to my fellow Trustees, Advisers and our wonderful office staff.

Travelling around the Federation meeting as many of you as possible has been a great joy, and confirmed my belief that there is seemingly very nearly a WI for everyone. I have made so many friends and learnt of some amazing achievements and humbling sacrifices. The welcome has been so warm and the support so great, and I continue to be a vey proud WI member, eternally grateful to those who founded our organisation over 100 years ago.

Although leaving the Board of Trustees, I will be serving on one of the sub-committees, and look forward to seeing many of you at future federation events.

With all good wishes and many thank for all your support.

Annette Smith

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January 2019

The start of another year, and as WI members there is so much we can do to make a difference. For example, at the ACM in Tunbridge Wells on 19 March we are asking WIs to bring bags of products to be donated to The Hygiene Bank which distributes toiletries to people struggling to afford even basics such as soap and sanitary towels. We can also make a difference by taking part when we have the chance to vote, something which women fought long and hard for.

Last year marked 100 years since the first women in Britain got the vote and I'm so pleased that Jane Robinson, author of "Hearts and Minds, the untold story of the Greta Pilgrimage and how women won the vote" will be one of the speakers at our ACM. It is so important that we don't forget how excluded women used to be from decision making at all levels and as WI members we should not pass up opportunities to be involved. Voting on resolutions will help to ensure the continuation of that great WI tradition of helping to try and improve society by drawing attention to issues that concern us and doing our bit, however small, to make a difference, Voting in the elections for the NFWI board enables us to have a say in how the WI is shaped going forward, and that it delivers what we want from it. As members of the largest women's organisation in the country we have a voice that is listened to, and we must ensure that voice continues to make itself heard.

But we can also make a difference to others within our own WI. I know from personal experience how much WI membership offers in ways both large and small, with the support and friendship offered within one's own WI probably the greatest gift of all. I am so proud of being a WI member, and as West Kent Federation embarks on its second century, feel sure it will continue to make a difference to other peoples' lives.

Annette Smith

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