Denman - our college

Important Update

On behalf of the NFWI Board of Trustees, it is with great sadness that we announce our proposal to close Denman permanently. We appreciate this will be difficult news for many of our members and other supporters, as it is for the NFWI Trustees and our staff. Most of all, this is a difficult time for the dedicated and passionate Denman staff team who are at risk of redundancy.

For a number of years, Denman has been operating without unrestricted reserves and operating a cash-flow model reliant on future bookings. This has always made Denman vulnerable to any economic changes and particularly so during this period of complete lockdown.

Throughout lockdown, the NFWI Board of Trustees have been carefully examining the financial position of Denman and considering all possible options. As the proposed reopening date of 1 July approached, it became clear that Denman would be unable to open and operate its full range of services, and that participants and visitors were uncomfortable visiting, which meant the scheduled courses were no longer viable.

This has been an extremely difficult decision and has not been taken lightly. Significant work has been undertaken over the last 18 months to address Denman’s financial challenges and rebuild its reserves position, including the introduction of a new business plan in June 2019 which opened up the opportunity to develop non-educational activities on site as a way of increasing income. This has been incredibly positive and we saw a significant reduction in deficit in the last financial year. Denman has also been helped enormously by the money received from the Saving Denman Appeal and Love Denman, as well as other donations and legacies that we have received over the years. However, Denman’s lack of unrestricted reserves and the cash-flow position meant that the College was left in an incredibly vulnerable position when faced with a minimum 3 month closure during the lockdown period.

We would like to thank all members and other supporters for their support of Denman over the years, including their enthusiasm and support for the recently established ‘Denman at Home’ courses. We are absolutely delighted that this programme has proved so popular, and in the short term it is our intention to continue to deliver and grow this offer to ensure that members can continue to access the high quality Denman activities that we have always prided ourselves in. You can sign up to these courses via the Denman website here: www.denman.org.uk.

Note for WI members: This announcement and accompanying FAQs were sent to WIs via federations on 21 July. If you did not receive this information via your WI, you can find the FAQs on My WI: https://mywi.thewi.org.uk/nfwi-news/articles/denman-update

These should help to explain the background and process in more detail; however, please note that we do not have answers to everything at the moment, as we are still within the consultation period and have not yet fully explored some of the complex legal and financial practicalities. If the proposal is taken forward following the staff consultations, we will be hosting a series of Zoom Q+A calls for WI members in September, where you will have the opportunity to ask any questions about Denman. Whilst we know how upsetting this news is for many WI members, please hold any further questions for these calls.

If you did not receive the FAQs from your WI and are unable to access My WI, please email hq@nfwi.org.uk to request a copy.

All members and non-members with existing bookings will be contacted separately and will be refunded in full within 30 days of this announcement. You do not need to contact us to arrange this as you will be contacted directly by the team.

Please note the closure is currently only proposed, as we have formally entered a consultation period with all Denman staff facing redundancy. The consultation period is an opportunity for staff to make representations on the proposal; therefore no decision can be made until the consultation period has ended.

Denman is the WI’s home of creativity. Set in the picturesque village of Marcham, the Georgian mansion and 17 acres of grounds make for a truly unique learning environment.

Denman offers over 650 courses, with something to suit every interest – from curries, cakes and crochet to papercutting, photography and Pilates. Courses are designed to cater for all abilities, and everyone is welcome – women and men, members and non-members. Denman can even cater for larger groups, so why not enjoy a break in the countryside with friends or family?

Visit the Denman website to browse courses from the Cookery and Craft school and those in the Lifestyle section, and follow Denman on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for news, exclusive offers, competitions and more!


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