AGM 2017

Blog post by Muireann Grealy, Borough Belles President

It was heartening how many Belles braved the horrible weather for our AGM, to review all the great activities and achievements of the past year and make plans for the future.

Sophie, our campaigns and communities officer, got us started with a run-down of all we got involved in this year: we’ve worked on the NFWI’s two current resolutions, Carers Welcome, and Food Waste; we’ve volunteered and participated in our local cancer care centre’s fundraising events; we’ve collected goods for our local food bank at each meeting; we’ve baked cakes each month for our favourite local choir, the Choir With No Name.

Alison and Johanna then led the debate on the two proposed resolutions for next year: Alleviating Loneliness and Plastic Soup. A number of pros and cons were expressed but both resolutions passed and we will send our vote to the NFWI Annual Meeting in Liverpool next month.

The various clubs officers gave a summary of their activities:

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  • Phoebe and Katie led ‘Cocktails and Pages’ this year, meeting every other month in a different location loosely tied to the theme of that month’s book. This year they even liked two of the books! (This is a record for them)
  • Crafts – Ruth and Sarah had their hopes for a gin infusing evening dashed by a venue cancellation, but have enjoyed regular meetups at IKnitLondon and other crafty spots.
  • Culture Club is a new one this year and Polly has had a great time taking us to exhibitions, museums and even the Hever Castle maze in the snow.
  • Muireann took us dancing all over town, and at some legendary venues: Wiltons and the Rivoli ballroom were particular highlights although Infernos is its own kind of legend and Cecil Sharp House and the Festival Hall are London treasures too.
  • Lidos – Emily resurrected our lido club this year and has been making her way through London’s heated lidos, but after June it’ll be cold water swimming again!
  • Alison renamed the Belles of Fire the ‘Belles of Lukewarmness’ as they’ve fallen off the running wagon a little bit this year, but plans are afoot to get out and about again soon.
  • Wandering Belles is another new club this year led by Christel, and they have walked in Manningtree, along the Thames Path and the London Green Chain.
  • Borough Market – Emily reported on our partnership with the Market this year. As well as contributing recipes to their website we’ve had two sellout stalls, one in October where we used the on-site test kitchen to make goodies for Apple Day, and then again recently for their St George’s Day festival where Belles made over 200 scones and sold them with cream and jam to a ravenous public!

Treasurer Amelia presented the financial statement for the year, which was approved.

Our secretary Sally updated us about our membership: we finished 2016 with 64 members and currently have 41. Our best attended meeting of the last twelve months was Kerry Taylor, the vintage fashion auctioneer last August.

Muireann gave the President’s address, reviewing the year: “It’s been another terrific year for the Borough Belles. Our monthly meetings covered a broad range of interests: we had talks on London social history with the Gentle Author, the traders of Borough Market, vintage fashion, the history of letters to Santa, women’s health apps, Rosie Wilby made us laugh, Absolute Bollywood taught us to dance, Vicky Woodward showed us how to make the most of our voices with some excellent vocal techniques, we regressed to childhood fun with Rabble and their fun playground style fitness games, and we shared our skills at ceramic painting, origami, sewing, calligraphy and other crafts.

We conducted our first membership survey which gave us great feedback on favourite meetings and things to plan for the future.

As well as the monthly meetings and clubs we had our first new members social evening, bowling at Elephant and Castle, and we’re going to make this a quarterly event with a different activity each time.

We also had our usual stall at Bermondsey St Fair and two amazingly successful ones at Borough Market, all of which raised funds which allow us to get great speakers and events each month.

We chose Women For Refugee Women as our charity to support for this year, with a bi-monthly raffle.”

And thanked the committee for all their hard work making it all possible, in particular Katie and Phoebe who are stepping down. We also have some role changes: Sophie is moving from our Campaigns Officer to running the book club, Ruth from the craft club, which Sarah will be taking over, and Alison from running club which will be taken over by Thea. This does mean we have a vacancy for Campaigns and Community Officer – so get in touch if you’re interested!

The annual report was proposed and adopted before our lovely tellers, Fiona and Kay from Catford WI, kindly reciprocating after we did the same for them the previous week, tallied the votes for the committee and then the president, and the new committee for 2017-18 is as follows:

Muireann – President
Sally – Secretary
Amelia – Treasurer
Alison, Amelia, Christel, Ellie, Emily, Johanna, Polly, Ruth, Sarah, Sophie, Thea

We toasted Borough Belles WI with a glass of prosecco and finished up the AGM with some communal sewing of our brand new and beautiful banner made by Ruth. Here’s to another great year!