|Battleaxe at Eastbourne|
Built in 1875, The Winter Garden is a classic old Victorian seaside building - think tea dances, music hall, concert parties, but it also has redolences of housing conferences, regional political gatherings and other such dull but worthy affairs.
|The Winter Garden|
We showed off some of our prize-winning things from last year's South of England Show at Ardingly, including this knitted mermaid in her pool, and my 'Scoop of the Century' story, which was about the invention of the Barbie doll.
|Our mermaid in her pool.|
Our WI, Hastings Ore, falls nicely between the two camps. We're not traditional, and most of us would fall into the 'younger active retired' group, although we do have young working women, and also elderly ladies. I love our group, and I'm proud to be President. However, I'd be nowhere without the brilliant women on our Committee team.
I've just read an article about the WI in this week's Grazia magazine - obviously designed to appeal to the average Grazia reader. Even so, I don't like the patronising, ageist tone of it. I suppose I should be grateful they didn't use the word 'nana' which makes Battleaxe want to kill. But what the hell are 'hipster name-generator group monikers'? Should I be 'adding a socially conscious banner to my Twitter avatar'? Should our next meeting include a professional dominatrice talking about her work while we sip bespoke cocktails made from hand-crafted gin?
|Next year I'll be up there with the Trustees...|
Here's an example. The WI runs Denman College, its own residential training centre, a Georgian mansion near Abingdon in Oxfordshire. It is justly proud of the wide variety of courses available for WI members. However, the average fee is £350 for two days, unaffordable for many of our members. One of my fellow trustees said that people could apply for bursaries. This may be so, but it is also the case that down in Hastings, rural Oxfordshire is like the dark side of the moon. Many of our women lack the confidence to travel to London on their own, let alone get to Abingdon. They just wouldn't go.
Denman devours masses of WI money, and currently needs more to stay viable. Should we be supporting it? I don't know yet.
In her working life, the Battleaxe spent many years on various boards rattling cages, upsetting apple carts, putting cats among pigeons and so on. While I've lost some of my appetite for such combative activities, the fires still burn brightly. Get ready, WI!