West Hampstead WI celebrated 10 years at our meeting on 7 October. Prosecco and cake were the order of the day and award-winning local actress Sarah Woodward did the honours cutting our celebration cakes. She had spoken at the meeting about the life of a jobbing actress, the ups and downs and stresses of an uncertain profession.
A vote of thanks to our founder Vicky Brown, who has served as President throughout our first decade, proposed by Membership Secretary Jane May, was greeted with enthusiastic applause.
From small beginnings, our membership has grown to nearly 40. Monthly meetings have included practical crafts and skills ranging from fashioning willow, hat making and creating natural cosmetics to massage techniques and mixing cocktails. We are fortunate we can draw on a plethora of local talent for our guest speakers including actors, authors, historians, academics, garden designers, psychotherapists, vets, and many more.
We have enjoyed talks from actors including Jim Carter, Imelda Staunton, Edward Petherbridge and Phillida Law, learned about conservation of paper and musical instruments, heard about creative writing from several novelists, restorative justice, protection from terrorism and food recycling as well as many more esoteric topics.
During the lockdown, we stayed in touch with each other as best we could. As soon as restrictions eased, members were able to meet outside for coffee mornings at Fortune Green, our local park, and in the summer we resumed our regular monthly programme, enjoying visits to both the Coexistence Exhibition of Elephants in Green Park and the current Frieze Sculpture Exhibition.
As Vicky said, “When we set up the new branch, we had no idea how it might develop. It has been very rewarding, offering local women an opportunity to meet socially. Many of us have made new friends, learnt a variety of new skills and met some wonderfully talented and interesting guest speakers. As part of the wider WI, we have been able to support some important national initiatives including the Show the Love climate change campaign and No More Violence Against Women, still very much an active issue of particular importance to women. Having survived the disruption caused by the Covid-19 lockdown, I look forward to a bright future for West Hampstead WI as we enter our second decade.”