We are Borough Belles Women’s Institute.
Founded in September 2009, we have 50+ members, a 14-strong committee and we’re looking for as many like-minded ladies as possible to join our group. We celebrate all the things the WI stands for: insightful speakers and presentations, interesting craft projects, and a whole lot of cake. Our mascot is our lovely London honeybee – industrious and adaptable, not to mention a provider of delicious treats!
We seek to embody the WI’s motto of ‘Inspiring women’, forging friendships and sparking passions that will benefit both us and the communities we live in.
We are always looking for people to step up and take on roles within the committee. If you are interested please do get in contact for more information or look at the Jobs Board HERE
THE BOROUGH BELLES COMMITTEE
PRESIDENT: Muireann Grealy
As the President my role includes co-ordinating committee meetings, planning our monthly meetings’ activities and listening to our members to find out what they want from their WI. I also correspond with WI Head Office regarding publicity and resolutions and act as the public face of BBWI. I write the monthly newsletter and on top of that run the Dancing Belles Club, which keeps my toes tapping.
I joined the WI partly for the cake and crafts but also for its commitment to education and campaigning. It’s been wonderful to meet so many interesting, interested women at Borough Belles and learn all sorts of new skills. Favourites have been the self-defence class, learning to Charleston, and spotting goldfinches and peregrine falcons on Bankside. Also the night our cake table had beetroot cake, carrot cake and spinach cake and I realised that thanks to the WI I could consume my 5-a-day via the medium of cake.
TREASURER: Amelia Parsons
As the Treasurer, I look after the financial affairs of Borough Belles Wl, ensuring the proper and efficient handling of our money and advising on financial planning for the year. I also welcome members and guests to the meeting, ensuring everyone is signed in.
I’ve enjoyed three years as a WI member so far, have learned about topics from Astrology to Zines, tried activities such as boot camp and (fake) tattooing and met many Inspiring Women!
SECRETARY: Sally Sculthorpe
I attended my first Borough Belles meeting in January and was hooked straight away. Borough Belles members are a diverse, friendly group of women who made me feel immediately welcome. The range of activities, events and topics for meetings are certainly entertaining and provide great opportunities to learn new skills and hear about good causes or discover new hobbies.
I was keen to get more involved and leapt at the chance to join the committee. As Secretary my role involves supporting the President and maintaining up to date records.
SOCIAL CO-ORDINATOR: Ellie Simes
As part of the Borough Belles committee I help out with running meetings, socials and events. Lots of things need doing to make sure everything goes smoothly. So whether it’s setting up tables and chairs, manning a stall at an event or just having a cocktail or two (at dancing or book group), there’s always something fun to get involved with.
COCKTAILS & PAGES OFFICERS: Katie Frost (left) & Phoebe Prendergast (right)
As the joint organisers of our book club, ‘Cocktails & Pages’, we organise the venues for each meeting, and we try to find somewhere in-keeping with the theme of each book. At the meetings themselves, we bring a set of starter questions to promote our discussion, whilst also trying out the cocktails on offer!
We joined the WI together last year as we both live in the area and wanted to see what we could get up to after work, whilst meeting new people. It is great that Borough Belles has such a diverse age-range and is promoting the WI to the younger generation and the variety of meetings we have caters for everyone; our personal favourites have been the wine & cheese tasting session but also learning to quill at the craft evening!
BELLES OF FIRE OFFICER: Alison Pearce
As Deputy Craft Officer, it’s my role to support Ruth to organise great craft events and to help publicise them on the Belles’ Facebook page.
Crafting is a fun way to get involved with the WI – whether you’re into knitting, sewing, crochet, paper crafts or even craft beer making. The possibilities are endless, so get involved!
SOCIAL MEDIA OFFICER – Johanna Wilson
As the Social Media Officer, my role is cover both the Borough Belles Twitter to get the latest news of meetings, events and successes out there and our Facebook page as Belle Borough to keep all the events we run up-to-date (as well as ensuring that no one goes without their invite!). I also run the Instagram account and update our blog to show what we’ve been up to. So if there’s something you feel is missing or that you want on our social media, let me know. I joined the Borough Belles in 2015. I came as a guest to for a session on urban beekeeping and I was hooked! It’s a really friendly group that makes you feel welcome from the very first session. There’s such a great range of activities and events going on, as well as ways to get involved and give back to the local community, so there really is something for everyone.
My role as Borough Market Officer means I help with building the relationship between the Belles and Borough Market. This means organising our stalls at Borough Market, co-ordinating the monthly blog post ‘Borough Belles Cook’ and find new ways we can work with the market itself.
I joined the WI after hearing so much about the work they had done historically, and continue with today, in the local community. In London it is sometimes hard to gain that sense of community that I immediately felt during that first meeting I attended. It was just what I had been searching for!
WANDERING BELLES OFFICER: Christel Hernalesteen
As joint Borough Market Officer, together with Emily, I am responsible for organizing one-off events/meetings with Borough Market and our raffles.
On top of that, I will organise a few walks a year for a brand new “Wandering Belles” walking club. I hope that you will join us on invigorating country walks, where we will take our time to discover quaint beautiful villages and take in peaceful green landscapes. And of course enjoy tea and scones at the end of our rewarding walk!
CAMPAIGNS OFFICER: Sophie Backhouse
As Campaigns Officer I liaise with charities, often local, when they have a campaign or opportunity to volunteer that they think the Borough Belles would be interested in getting involved in. Past organisations we have worked with include Dimbleby Cancer Care Trust and Thames 21 who work to clean up the waterways in and around London, but we are always happy to hear from new organisations that might like our help or to come tell us what they do!
I joined the Borough Belles in 2015 after recently moving to the South East London area. I was immediately bowled over by the welcoming sense of community that the Belles have created and love the diverse range of activities that happen at each meeting, not to mention all the great clubs and social activities that go on the rest of the month. I can honestly say joining the Belles was the best decision I’ve made in a very long time!
COMMITTEE MEMBER: Polly Heffer
I am a general committee member involved in the running of the Borough Belles. You can usually find me running with the Belles of Fire on Saturday mornings and helping to plan races and runs.
I joined the Borough Belles in 2015 after moving to Peckham and not knowing anyone in the area. Since then I have spent my time running, singing, crafting, baking, volunteering and drinking wine with wonderful people. What is not to love?