2018 marks 100 years since some women gained the right to vote. Although the Beast From The East interrupted our week we were very glad to be able to celebrate International Women’s Day with a talk from The Fawcett Society. Angie from East London Fawcett came and gave a very interesting and stimulating talk starting with the origins of the Fawcett Society and the suffragists, led by Millicent Fawcett, and gave us an insight into their current campaigns and research around gender inequality.
We had a lively debate following the talk and also had the opportunity to see for the first time our De Beauvoir WI banner which we then proudly accompanied on the March4Women on Sunday. The banner was then displayed outside the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 8th (International Women’s Day) and appeared on stage at the Royal Festival Hall at Mirth Control alongside Sandy Toksvig and other inspirational women on Sunday 11th March.
What better way to kick off the New Year than with last nights practical workshop that helped us rebalance our bodies and our energy after the business of the festive season. A big thanks to John Haywood who joined us to introduce us to the ancient art of Qigong (Chi Gung), literally translated as ‘Life Energy Cultivation’. Qigong is a holistic system of co-ordinated body posture and movement, breathing and meditation used for the purpose of health. It is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance Qi, translated as life energy. There is also research published showing benefits for mental health, with a reduction in cortisol, the hormone produced in the body in response to stress, so a great way to kick off our own self care in the light of the 2019 national resolution on mental health.
John runs a weekly class at Castlehaven Community Centre in Camden on a Tuesday at 11am.
Dates for your diary
Book group is up and running after a December break and will be meeting on 8th January at Bavo at 8pm to discuss The Hitman’s Guide To Housecleaning by Hallgrimur Helgason, email in if you would like to join us but it helps if you have read the book
Knitting group is also back, for beginners and experts, we will be meeting on Monday 21st January, venue to be decided, again email in if you would like to learn to knit, hone your existing skills or want to come along for a knit and natter
We will be resuming our collections of toiletries for the women in the Solace refuges – bodywash, shampoo, conditioner, etc all welcome
The Night Shelter at St Peter’s will be up and running from the 7th January, we are providing a home made cake every Monday throughout the course of the shelter running – we have had volunteers for January but if you fancy baking a cake in February or March to deliver on a Monday then let us know.
What a fabulous start to the year as we welcomed Nicola Whittaker from Fellows Auctioneers. Fellows is a family run firm and Nicola is a sixth generation member of her family to join the business and she began working in the auction house aged 16 in her school holidays. Fellows are based in Birmingham but have an office in Mayfair, London where Nicola now works. Specialising in jewellery and watches, she explained that unlike many other auction houses, they do not put a lower price limit on items they auction. Passionate and informative she took us through a whistlestop tour of the history of jewellery, how changes in society emerged in changing aesthetics, and how things changed further as exploration, excavation and gem cutting equipment developed. She was so generous with her time and her knowledge and spent a further hour with us looking at the treasures members had brought in and giving us information on origin , history and potential value. She also mentioned that that Fellows have open afternoons where anyone can go and peruse the items up for auction so we are thinking we may plan a trip there. If you are interested in coming along email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Debauchery in De Beauvoir? For our September meeting we enjoyed a hugely entertaining and informative talk from Eleanor Bloom about Georgian London and the culture of gin houses and the darker side of the East End. How the madness associated with gin was due to a blight on the grain and why they really wore those stupendous wigs. We also enjoyed some delicious gin cocktails and a lemon and cucumber cake with gin icing.
Plus Jessie from Solace Women’s Aid told us more about the work they do with women and children fleeing domestic violence and explained how our monthly donations are used in the welcome packs they give every family arriving at the refuges they run across London
We had a great time when we welcomed award winning comedian, journalist and actress Samantha Baines when she came to do her latest stand up show about amazing women who have been ignored by the history books. We wish her the best of luck at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.
Our May meeting was our AGM where we decided on our new committee and voted on which of the resolutions the national federation will take forward. We also had a talk from Karen Moloney about her experiences of being a founding member of the Women’s Equality Party.
A few crafty pictures from our February meeting where we welcomed Ugandan and English inspired fusion brand AfroRetro: