ABOUT US

We are Borough Belles Women’s Institute.

Founded in September 2009, 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: Alison Pearce

There’s no two ways about it, I LOVE the Belles! Joining a Borough Belles meeting in 2015 was absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’d urge any woman to take a leap and give us a try. I’ve worked in Southwark with my partner since 2011 and since there’s just the two of us in our business there’s a distinct lack of colleagues to befriend. I only wish I had discovered the Belles sooner as not only have I had many fantastic experiences, learnt a lot and challenged who I think I am, I’ve made some very special friendships too.

I came as a guest twice before joining – my first meeting was a wine tasting, no such bad choice for the unconfident though it was a talk so I didn’t chat to many people, followed by a Christmas party the next month where one member asked me if I could smell her garlic breath when she breathed on me*! Undeterred by these experiences I joined at the next meeting in January where I met another Belle who happened to lead the running club (and was the entirety of the running club!) From our regular runs I took over when she stepped down from the committee and from then on I’ve enjoyed being part of the team helping shape BBWI. A year as Secretary has now led to me becoming President and I couldn’t be more proud to have been voted in. I think what I’m trying to say is that a little perseverance can really pay off – it takes time to get to know people in all circumstances and I like to think that the Borough Belles have a welcoming and relaxed vibe with lots of opportunities to get involved and learn things while also making friends.

Shared with Becky (Vice President), I’ll be heading-up our monthly meetings and chairing the committee that organises our WI as well as penning the monthly newsletters. I’m really looking forward to continuing to deliver alongside our committee the creative, challenging, fun and inspiring meetings, clubs, visits, fundraising events and experiences that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself so far. 

*a strange and isolated experience 😉

VICE PRESIDENT AND FILM CLUB OFFICER: Becky Marlow

I joined Borough Belles in January 2017. It’s a great fun group with lots of social activities and opportunities to do and learn different things! I joined wanting to widen my social circle and I have certainly done that since joining! This year I have been nominated as Vice President and I look forward to helping out in that role! I also organise the FilmClub – this was originally an off-shoot of the Bookclub. We are checking out all the cheap ticket deals at the local cinemas on the first Monday or Tuesday of the month to see the new releases and are also finding new and interesting ways to watch beloved films! Recent and upcoming trips include picnicking at an outdoor screening at the Barbican, drinking cocktails and watching in comfort on bean bags and I’m hoping we can try interactive cinema in the future too!

SECRETARY AND GREENER ECONOMICS CLUB OFFICER: Susan Hunter

I joined the Borough Belles in 2018 when I came back to London after working abroad. I’d been to a couple of meetings before I left and was disappointed that I couldn’t set up my own group while I was out of the UK!

There are loads of ways of getting involved. WI campaigns like “End Plastic Soup” made me want to learn more about Green Economics so I set up the Greener Economics Club. We go to talks and debates about green matters in the news. The plan for the coming year is to put what we learn to practical use. Watch this space!One thing led to another and now I’m Secretary as well. That’s the person ticking off names at the front desk at meetings and managing member data. I also minute the Committee meetings and share news and info from our Federation and the NFWI where needed.

TREASURER: Christel Hernalesteen

As Treasurer I look after the finances for our W.I. club: handling membership fees,  paying expenses and helping to manage our budget.

BELLES OF FIRE OFFICER: Amelia Parsons

I have been a keen Borough Belle of Fire for three years. We meet for chatty weekend morning runs in South East London’s lovely dog-packed parks including Dulwich, Peckham Rye and Crystal Palace and sunny evenings along the Thames. Belles of all running abilities are welcome to join our jogs! I am taking over organising the group in 2018 and we are going to branch out to other exciting forms of exercise including hula hooping, yoga and trampolining.

CULTURE CLUB AND SOCIAL MEDIA OFFICER: Johanna Wilson

As the Culture Club and Social Media Officer, my role is to organise culture outings (museums, galleries and talks), as well as cover the Borough Belles Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 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

COMMITTEE MEMBER: Lara Clements

I joined the Borough Belles in 2010 and can honestly say it was the best New Year’s resolution I have made. I am a really proud WI member, I love that it raises a few eyebrows in the office and is the largest voluntary organisation of women in the UK. When I first moved to London I really missed having a group of crafters to hang out with and with the Borough Belles I have found a wonderful community of likeminded people. I’ve learnt to dance like Beyonce (ahem), embroider, make amazing jam, dream of keeping bees and learnt about giant squid! Currently I’m a committee member without portfolio, helping out as needed.

CAMPAIGNS, COMMUNITY AND CRAFTIVIST OFFICER: Sarah Miloudi

As Campaigns, Community and Craftivist Officer, it’s my role to think of ways Belles can give back to their local community and to organise great craft events.

Craftivism, volunteering and group making are all fun ways to get involved with the WI and help us shift the needle on our annual resolutions, which in recent years have included taking action to boost the bee population and curbing the volume of plastic entering our oceans.

STALLS OFFICER: Kiki Lo

I have been a Borough Belle for a couple of years and found that you could not be with a better group of women. They are always up for trying something new and care passionately about their community, social and environmental issues. There is something very special about being part of a group of people who are all from different walks of life and yet you will have an immediate rapport with them.

My background is in design, both architecture and textiles, but I do love cooking and since joining the Belles took on the challenge and improved my baking in order to help supply our stalls.I have now taken on a more of active role which entails helping to organise our cake stalls as well as our bi-monthly supper club which has become very popular and is a great way of getting to know fellow Belles.

VENUE QUEEN: Fiona Smark

I joined Borough Belles in July 2018. I’d just moved to London and wanted to make some friends, and the WI is the perfect place to try new hobbies and meet other women. I’ve just joined the committee as Venue Queen.

COMMITTEE MEMBER: Emily Simpson

I have been a member of the Borough Belles for a couple of years now and it’s been great! I joined after moving to the area and doing some googling on groups and things going on in the area and I found the Borough Belles site. For quite a while I just checked in and read what they were up to and then one day I went along as a guest. I remembered going along to WI events with my mum where I grew up in Kent and I have very fond memories of the voluntary warmth the community gave out, there is just something special about that. It also feels like an important social and historical society that we owe to the world to continue with! 
It’s a great group of smart fun ladies and it’s refreshing to be part of something totally voluntary. No-one is forced or obliged to go and yet people just turn up week after week.
The monthly speakers have been fantastic and varied, I have learnt practical, emotional and financial skills through them! The fringe clubs have been awesome too and being part of the National Campaigns vote has been really interesting and satisfying.
I would recommend anyone tempted to come along, to just have a try, I really have no complaints! 10/10

COFFEE CLUB OFFICER: Honey Langcaster-James

I first met the Borough Belles thanks to a particularly tasty jar of jam! One day I was mooching around Borough Market and I was drawn to a stall that stood out from all the rest. I didn’t realise it at the time, but that purchase ultimately led me to get to know the loveliest bunch of women I could ever have hoped to meet. And yes, I know that’s a cliché since everyone thinks the ladies of the WI are all about knitting and making jam. However, I can assure you I have since found out the Borough Belles are about so much more than that. Oh…so much more! 
A few months later, when I moved into central London through work, I remembered that jam and, moreover, all those friendly faces. I went along to a meeting, just to see what it would be like, and I soon found myself joining up. Since then, I’ve got up to all sorts of things. I’ve attended supper clubs, been on group tours and I’ve been to see movies I would never have thought to go and see. I also love the monthly meetings where I’ve learned about anything and everything from the origins of different types of tea to how to play the steel drums! Now I’m on the committee and I run the Coffee Club (because who doesn’t like meeting up for a coffee and a chat with friends?) and I’m so glad that, thanks to that little jar of jam, I ended up meeting such an interesting, inclusive and inspiring group of women because ultimately, while Borough Belles make really great jam, they make even better friends!

WANDERING BELLES OFFICER: Lisa Ancliffe

When I moved across London in 2018 I joined the Borough Belles as a way to meet new people in the area and also to encourage me to get off the sofa and start doing more.

The Belles have certainly delivered on both points. It has been great getting to know such a wide variety of amazing woman that you wouldn’t normally find all in one room. After usually being the odd one in the office it has been lovely to meet people with similar interests ranging from baking and crafting through to campaigning and being green. 

There are so many activities on offer that you can dip in and out of as your interest/time allows. I have loved all the activities and talks that the monthly meeting offers as well as movies, football matches and volunteering on stalls. 

I will be taking over the Wandering Belles walking group from Christel and am looking forward to finding some great walks in London and the surrounds to further shed my inner couch potato.

35 thoughts on “ABOUT US

  1. Hi, I don’t live in the borough I live in the Bromley Area but it is easier for me as I work by London Bridge Station, is that okay to join?

    • Hi Anita, yes certainly – we have people from all over! Sign up to our mailing list for all our updates – hope to see you at our April meeting.

  2. Hi, I am very excited about your website! Lovely idea and feel to it. May I please be added to your mailing list for the next meeting you are having? Many thanks, George xx

  3. I am hoping that you might be able to advertise amongst your members a concert that I am organising on September 14th at City Temple with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, who sang at the Olympics. Huw Edwards is compere for the evening and we are hoping to raise enough money to buy five syringe pumps for Great Ormond Street Hospital. I appreciate that this is not one of your designated charities this year, however, I felt it would be a concert that I am sure many of your members would enjoy.

    If you could spread the word it would be enormously appreciated. Ticets are £20 and available from http://www.LWMVCandGOSH.com

    Many thanks
    Louise

  4. My name is Emily and I work for Hestia Housing and Support, which is a charity providing services for victims of domestic abuse across London.
    Domestic abuse is one of the biggest issues facing women in our society, with one in four women experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime. Shockingly, two women are killed each week in the UK as a result of domestic abuse.
    We passionately believe that it is important for all women to be educated about domestic abuse, which can include financial and emotional abuse as well as violence, and affects women from all walks of life. We would like to come to one of your meetings to give a short presentation on domestic abuse and how it is affecting women and their children in London, and the services we offer to help women rebuild their lives after they experience domestic abuse.
    If you are interested in having a representative of Hestia come to speak at one of your meetings, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Emily

  5. Hi, my mum and I have just been looking at your website and were intrigued by your upcoming talk on herbs. would it be ok if we came along? Thanks Isy and Jan

    • Hi Isy and Jan,
      We’d love to have you along, you’re both very welcome! See you on the 15th. Borough Belles

  6. Hi, Id love to see if there are any speaking opportunities. I work for the Childrens Air Ambulance and was hoping we could share some ideas.
    Happy to fill any last minute spaces too :). oh and if you are having any kind of bakery or food related theme, im your girl. please can you email me – its carrie.moran@theairambulanceservice.org.uk

    • Hi Carrie, Thanks for getting in touch, we will drop you a line to discuss ideas. Thanks Lara x

  7. Hi, my email has gone to ground and I wanted to volunteer for the cake rota for the South London choir – could someone point me in the right direction?

    • Hi Stephanie, That is great that you want to volunteer. If you can make it to next meeting do you want to speak to one of the committee members and we will add you to our lists. Or if your email is back up and working please email us as boroughbelleswi@gmail.com Thanks Lara x

  8. Pingback: BBWI: local country shows this weekend « Borough Belles WI

  9. Hi there!
    I live in Bermondsey and would love to join the Borough Belles!
    Are you taking new members at the moment?
    Many thanks,
    Marjha

  10. Hi,
    I am a member of The Society Of Mudlarks and have a special licence to search The Thames Foreshore. I do not use a metal detector as i search only by eye. I have a vast collection of finds and a slide show. I have recently given a talk/display at Crayford WI who seemed to enjoy my enthusiasm for this hobby . Where do you meet? Have you an address? Would you be interested in booking me.
    Sara-Jane Ladbrook-Hutt

  11. My Hubbi (PIANIST) would be pleased to play piano for any special function – a la Richard Clayderman etc…….

  12. Hi! I’m chuffed to find a WI in SE1 and would love to come to the next meeting. Would you be able to send me the details please?
    Thanks! Lucy

  13. Hi,
    I’d like to come along to the next meeting if that’s possible, do I need to do anything beforehand or just turn up?

    Thanks,

    Sam

  14. Hi there,

    I was delighted to see that there is now a WI in SE1, I’d love to come along to your next meeting in February, please add me to the mailing list,

    Thanks very much,
    Rosamund

  15. Hello ladies! I have contacted Kirsty via the LondonSe1.co.uk website, to offer to come to one of your meetings. I am the local Tupperware consultant, and I have been along to meetings of other London WI groups to speak about being a rare Tupperware Man, and about how Tupperware has empowered women to run their own businesses for the last 50 years, as well as providing retro-chic storage for our bijou London kitchens. Good luck with the group, and hope to hear from you soon.

  16. Noswaith dda,Kirsty !
    I guess that you’ll all be absorbing the Cymreig atmosphere in your new surroundings-you’re sure to be happy in the Chapel.
    Will your next meeting be January 20th ? I’d be very interested to join your meeting,if that’s so.
    Many thanks,diolch,
    Barbara.
    ps.I’ve almost exhausted myknowledge of Welsh vocabulary here !

  17. Dear Borough Belles,

    What a marvellous idea to form a WI, I’d love to come along to the meeting on 30th Nov, please add me to your mailing list.

    Thanks & best regards

    Marina

    • Hi Annegret,
      Of course! Everyone is welcome. I’ll add you to our mailing list so you can get details of our next meeting.
      We look forward to meeting you.
      All the best,
      Kirsty

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