It was a huge honour to be elected Chairman of Oxfordshire WI by my fellow Trustees last month. Jane has been an inspiring leader for the past two years and I am delighted to report that she has agreed to remain on the Board where her experience and expertise as we plan the way forward, will be
invaluable. It is also a huge relief to me as the ‘newbie’ to know she is still around to help and advise us.
I am very aware that I have big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively! Jane is a good deal taller than me and certainly wears a shoe size or two bigger than me but despite my diminutive frame I will stand tall and promise to do the very best I can for the Oxfordshire WI and all our members.
For those of you who don’t yet know me, I have been an Oxfordshire WI member for the past 41 years when I moved to the county with my husband and young family. The day I moved into my new home I was invited to join the WI and I have been a member ever since. It was one of the best decisions of my life as the WI has offered me so many opportunities and friendships and I truly believe it has enhanced my life. Some of you will know me as their WI Adviser, Chairman of the Membership Support Committee (a position I will step down from this month), a former Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and an NFWI Trainer. Although I do bring quite a lot of WI experience to the role there is still so much to learn and I hope you will bear with me while I work my way through these first few months in the role of your Chairman.
In normal times there would have been a lovely ‘handover ceremony’ at our March Annual Meeting in Oxford’s beautiful Town Hall, but there is nothing normal about the situation we find ourselves in at the moment and taking on this role in the middle of a world pandemic is both daunting and exciting at the same time! It is so sad too that we weren’t able to give Jane the send-off and thanks she so deserved but we did organise a bouquet of flowers and a large box of chocolates to be delivered to her home from all of us, and I have included a tribute to Jane in this edition of N&Vs.
I wish I had a crystal ball to be able to see what the future looks like for us but what I do know is that I believe the WI will emerge stronger than ever although it may well look a bit different. You have risen to the challenge of managing online meetings and keeping in touch electronically, of supporting members who do not have access to IT, you have been incredibly resourceful and shown the true spirit of the WI by staying connected and I applaud you.
We have been delighted at the response to the online talks we have been able to provide through our #MyVirtualOxfordshireWI programme of events and this month we have added Q&A sessions for Presidents & Secretaries and Treasurers which we hope members will find helpful. We have been able to offer the talks free of charge to members so far, but there are costs involved in presenting them so we may have to consider introducing a small charge in future. We would love to hear your views on this proposal so do please contact me to let me know what you think. The other big new innovation has been the hugely successful digital version of News & Views and again, we would love to hear how you see this as a future model along with a hard copy version for those members who prefer that format. Again, we would have to introduce a charge to cover the costs of these and would appreciate your comments very much which will help us shape the future model for when things return to whatever the ‘new normal’ is.
I look forward to hearing from you and especially to meeting you all in the
not too distant future. Stay safe.
With very best wishes,