Four members from the local WI travelled over to Ivinghoe to see the Centenary Baton be passed on to Bedfordshire Federation. The National Federation Chairman, Janice Langley was present with Maggie Simons, another Trustee who was the person who had had the original idea of a baton containing a sort of time capsule progressing through every WI County Federation in England ,Wales and the Islands.The events held in Bucks have been well attended and WI members have entered into the spirit of the thing but it has been a lot of work for the organising team. It has certainly brought the WI to the notice of a wider public which was the object of the exercise. The national media have picked up on the idea. As the Lord Lieutenant of Bucks, Sir Aubrey-Fletcher said it is an achievement to keep an organisation in the forefront of society for 100 years and for it to keep proving its worth in a changing world.
There was a good turnout on the Lawns at Ivinghoe which the baton had reached by narrowboat to Pitstone and then been carried up to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon before being exhibited in the Hub. In spite of the cold strong wind there were stalls to visit, the Joyful Divas sang and there was even a ukelele player singing too.The Board of Trustees for Bucks was nearly complete and ex-officers had been invited to tea. The refreshments were marvellous and the display of its archives from Ivinghoe & Pitstone WI (the first WI in Bucks) was very interesting. I admired its wall-hanging which is a real work of art. Is a similar one a possible project for our WI craft group?
It was a rather thin turnout for the craft group this afternoon. The production of knitted squares for the fistula patients in Ethiopia continues apace. We already have 2 shawls made up and enough squares waiting to be joined up and edged to make a lot more. We were asked for bright cheerful colours and that is certainly what the young women are going to receive from Winslow WI. Plans were made for our craft programme over the next few months but we have had to cancel meetings in May because of holiday and family commitments.However, we will not be idle because we are building up stocks for our stall at the Farmers' Market in July. Some members had enjoyed a visit to a patchwork exhibition and to a new handicrafts shop in Milton Keynes.
Today it was Winslow WI's turn to provide a venue and refreshments for the Centenary Baton. The town square had been cleared of cars and at 2pm St. George arrived in a vintage Morgan sports car waving an enormous flag. There was a good crowd around the square and local shopkeepers had posters and bunting across their premises.Vera Moyle-Maton from Maids Moreton WI was beautifully dressed in red, white and blue and she danced with St George.A few people joined in rather bashfully.The little choir led a powerful rendition of Jerusalem and other patriotic songs were sung. Then everyone repaired to the St Lawrence Room for refreshments and to view the promotional exhibits brought from the Bucks HQ in High Wycombe. The weather was fine and people were able to sit about and wait for the vintage tractor to arrive to take the baton and St George on to Great Horwood where there would be more tea and cakes before the Baton and its entourage moved on to Willen Lake.
The Bucks Federation Annual Council Meeting was held again at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.Because of the celebration of the National WI's 100th anniversary and Bucks' 95th it was bound to be rather special this year. The Centenary Baton was welcomed with a grand fanfare for a small but important symbol of the WI's achievements. It is nearing the completion of its journey around the counties of England and Wales. Of course common sense should have told us it wasn't going to be a caber being passed around but there were remarks such as "Is that it then?"The Federation Chairman Jenny Street gave an interesting address majoring on the history of the WI. The business was whistled through and the financial statement illustrated on the overhead screen. Diana Birch from Northampton Federation who is the NFWI Vice-Chairman and Chairman of WI Enterprises told us of the workings of the marketing arm of the WI and about the volume of work undertaken by all the National Trustees.We then listened to Beryl Coombs list the events booked for the progress of the baton across Bucks which was very amusing as it was delivered in a downbeat deprecating fashion.
Anna Turney the double Winter Paralympian was the first inspiring woman to speak. Anna described her early years as an extremely active teenager and her taking up of speed snowboarding and the dreadful accident that condemned her to the wheelchair from which she spoke.However with sheer grit and determination she decided to train for the paralympics on a special snowboard. We then watched her competing and falling at 70 miles an hour in the events and quite frankly we were terrified on her behalf. What courage! She now spends time training and supporting other disabled athletes. No wonder Anna received a standing ovation.
In the afternoon after visiting the stalls along the theatre verandah we congratulated winners of competitions and bursaries and settled down to listen to another inspiring woman. Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green and Black's chocolate spoke about the economic vision needed to set up a business which has grown into an international brand built on green principles; the importance of design and using modern advertising methods. As an author and journalist she has edited beauty books and is now working on the promotion of perfumes. Everything Jo does is backed by her code of eco-friendly ethics and the demand for quality. A different world to Anna's but the same level of determination and commitment is necessary.
A calendar of forthcoming events in this centenary year was presented by members of the Bucks Board of Trustees including the party at Waddesdon Manor and then we were graced by the appearance of St George and some bargee women who had come to lead the members down to the canal basin to deliver the baton by boat to the new marina where Aylesbury Town WI was providing refreshments.