'Don't judge a book by its cover!' The WI in Margate!
Always being told 'Don't Judge a book by its cover'.....and I really wasn't expecting this!
We’re told ‘Never Judge a book by its cover’ well it has never been more true than at an event I attended on Thursday.
Having grown up hearing about THE WI, with my own preconceived ideas of what I would encounter when agreeing to attend for International Womens Day couldn’t have been further from the actual reality that I was introduced to.
In the sunny South East of England where France is closer than London I was invited to attend the Margate Womens Institute meeting, as they had all been researching inspirational women, and one lady had decided to investigate the lady behind Mums Bake Cakes. Having spoken to the WI member ( Lottie), I offered to attend as I was intrigued with what they were involved with. Offering to arrange for one of our bakers to supply a cake for all to share I felt this was appropriate for a WI meeting who have historically been known as the ‘coffee cake and chat’ sort of place.
Arriving at this amazing venue of a ‘quirky’ café ( Cliffs) – not the church hall I had thought of in my preconceptions ( I’m sure some still meet in church halls and the venue isn’t that relevant) but this venue WAS amazing.
The ladies attending made me feel very welcome- again, I’d assumed they probably would, the ‘ladies’ of the WI are thought of as being ‘nice’ people and they definitely didn’t disappoint. We spoke about children, grandchildren, elderly parents ,fulltime working , working and raising children- so a real cross section of ladies of all ages. Again, a mis-conception of mine as I was expecting an age range of 60+ , but it was a complete cross-section of ‘nice’ people!
Placing this amazing cake down created by one of our bakers, caused a stir and the ooh’s and ahh’s as everyone looked forward to sharing the cake later on the evening ( not really the response I was expecting as I thought they would have always had tea and cake)..no!...another wrong footed move!
The ladies collected their drinks- gin & tonic, Budweiser, Prosecco , coffee and sparkling water…..when did the WI introduce some great drinks to choose from?? The owner of the café was happy to oblige and how great to see the WI supporting a local business too! This evening was getting better and better!
Having moved to the main agenda and the start of the meeting, it became apparent how powerful this group of women really are. One agenda item related to the use of plastic and as an individual trying to stop using plastic, may feel quite insignificant and useless, however, as a collective these amazing women are making a difference in their area. Listening to their quest to clean plastic from the beaches by lobbying large companies to stop the mass use of it, with their counterparts around the UK all doing the same they can see the difference they are making- changing the face of the UK one plastic bag at a time, and I truly believe the womens movement is shifting and this group of ladies will be instrumental in the movement going forwards.
Each member had researched amazing women around the world both past and present, showing what they had achieved whether as a Para-Olympian winning 8 Gold medals for dressage, to an amazing lady in Basra saving 70% of historical library books, to medical innovators and artists.
Feeling slightly in awe of these amazing women and hearing how Lottie had researched my background and the rationale behind Mums Bake Cakes and where we are now after winning numerous awards in our first year, I still wasn’t convinced that I should really be placed alongside these wonderful icons of history- however, the ladies enjoyed the cake, were intrigued about how the journey for me began, where rather than accepting something couldn’t be done- I began a huge journey making it happen so that others wouldn’t have the issue I had previously for my lovely niece.
The WI movement, must take this opportunity to show the transition it has quietly undertaken, the enormous work both for good causes, personal development, collective changes it creates as the #pressforprogress campaigns, and many other women led campaigns all gather pace. Young women are feeling the changes and that we are on the cusp of true equality, whether through sport, entertainment, professional businesses, the WI really are charging ahead and changing with the times.
Why not take a look at your local WI, I think, like me, you will be amazed- many women look for various clubs to attend whether ‘women in business’ Federation of small businesses’ ‘Ladies who latte’ and many, many others across the UK- but don’t discount your local WI- these are business women, parents, influential women in society across all walks of life where everyone is accepted and they truly do want to make a difference in their communities. Why not search out your local WI, I think you will be amazed at how your preconception are SO, SO VERY WRONG!
Thank you to the ladies of the Margate WI for such a fun, educational evening,
Do let me know how you get on, would love to hear your story.- take a leap of faith and visit your next meeting.