We are Borough Belles Women’s Institute.
Founded in September 2009, we have 60+ members 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: 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! Somehow I recently volunteered to set up a new FilmClub – this was as 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 picnicing 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 AND WANDERING BELLES OFFICER: 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.
I also organise a few walks a year for our Wandering Belles club, alternating between day long countryside walks and short city walks along London’s Green Chain or Thames Walks.
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
CRAFT OFFICER: Sarah Miloudi
As Craft Officer, it’s my role to organise great craft events.
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!