Has your WI done something unusual, original or newsworthy recently? Please email us a short write up, and up to 5 digital photographs to admin@essexwi.org.uk . We’ll endeavour to post as many as possible on here and/or our Facebook page.


Look no further for the ideal Christmas present for that person who is tricky to buy for!

Suffragette Mug + Suffragette Tea Caddy only £12.50

Centenary Mug + Centenary Tea Towel only £11.50

Please call the WI Centre to order.


World Mental Health Day

The date of Bulphan WIs October meeting fell on World Mental Health day and as this years National WI resolution is Mental Health Matters it was decided that these should be combined with a harvest supper of homemade soups for our ‘Food for Thought’ themed evening.

Members and visitors moved around the hall taking part in 5 different activities to promote wellbeing, discussion and conversation. There was table filled with items such as a button box, flat iron, old tins, a bean slicer and other things that brought back memories of peoples lives, colouring books and pencils were on another giving members time to sit quietly and concentrate. A positive sayings project was being started on one table and members were playing a version of ‘Who am I’ on the next, finally a lovely lady had come along to give aromatherapy hand massages. After our minds had been fed it was the turn of our tummies with a choice of six delicious soups with bread followed as always by tea and cakes.

Deeds Not Words

What a splendid meeting we had on Friday 6th October in Grays. We were joined not only by the amazing Armed Forces Diversity Empowerment Team, and talented singer Emily Yarrow, but by the well known and inspirational women’s rights expert, Helen Pankhurst, descendant on not one but two famous suffragettes.

There was an almost celebratory atmosphere in the hall as the theme was 100 years of some women getting the vote. The excitement about hearing Helen speak was palpable and she didn’t disappoint and also included much audience participation as she helped us to review where we are in terms of women’s equality now and what we can do in the next 10 years in the lead up to 100 years of full voting rights equality.


The Armed Forces Diversity Team were fantastic and informed of us the wide number and varied careers available and how they are open to all. Plus the delightful Emily Yarrow entertained us exceedingly well in the afternoon with a selection of songs specially selected to go with the theme of women’s empowerment.

It was an inspirational afternoon and one that anyone who attended will remember for a long time to come.

Let’s Get Digital

Friday last week saw us running our very first Let’s Get Digital, Tech Help Desk event. 

Helping out the members were Jan Curtis, Editor of Essex WI News, and Admin on our Facebook Page, and Jane Miles, who is our webmaster and also an Admin on our Facebook Page. We also had the very kind Sue MacEwen on hand to help out with keeping everyone topped up with teas and coffees. Over the course of the day, Jan and Jane helped out many ladies with various issues ranging from setting up a brand new tablet, to learning how to do an online supermarket shop, to advertising a business on Facebook and Twitter. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and light hearted day, and the members all left having been helped with their enquiries. If you would like to come along to another, similar event, then please email admin@essexwi.org.uk to put in a request, as we hope to run a similar event in the near future.

New ‘MHM: Where To Find Help’ Guide Launched

Our team at Essex WI are delighted to launch a new guide designed to provide a comprhensive list of contacts whether you are someone in need of support, know someone who needs support, are a carer, or a WI member who wishes to campaign with us on this issue.

Mental Health Matters Where To Get Help

We hope you find this a helpful resource. If you feel we have missed out any useful contacts, then please do email us on: admin@essexwi.org.uk to let us know.

Sports Week Update…

Don’t forget to send your pictures and a brief summary into us at essexnews@essexwi.org.uk

We’ve heard from Bulphan and Orchard Springs WIs with their Walking Netball groups, and Wickham St Pauls WI’s Sports Day which included croquet and horseshoe pitching amongst other fun activities. Here’s a taster of their sessions – full details will be in the November issue of Essex news so don’t forget to get yourself a copy to find out more…

Sports Week This Week!

oct 16 1

Saturday 15 September to Saturday 22 September

Following the success of the previous Sports Weeks, it is hoped that countrywide WIs will provide one or more activities in which members may participate.

Contact a local tourist office and see if there are any town trails that you can follow. We are blessed in Essex with multiple beautiful country parks, and Essex Wildlife Trust properties so organise an impromptu walk around one.

Challenge another WI to boules at a local pub, organise a swim at a local pool, take a hike or hire a bike!

Don’t forget ice skating in Chelmsford and dry slope skiing in Brentwood!

Google local archery clubs – they are often happy to arrange a taster event. Don’t do the mundane – be adventurous! Try local Scout Centres such as Roxwell or Thriftwood, as they offer multiple taster type sessions at reasonable prices of activities such as abseiling, kayaking, rifle shooting and many more! The Brentwood Belles are pictured above having a go at abseiling at Thriftwood Scout Camp in Brentwood.

Who knows – there might be an activity that ends up being a weekly group!

Please share your activities and stories with us by emailing details to essexnews@essexwi.org.uk

What’s On This Autumn?

There’s a brilliant variety of things available for you from your Federation this Autumn! Here’s a taster of September and October but for full details take a look at our Diary page at this link: Events Diary


FEWI Ladies Go To Cardiff!

This week has been the NFWI AGM in Cardiff. Members from around Essex have attended and had a great time by all accounts! Here’s a taster of their time in Cardiff from these photos courtesy of Sue and Kate:

More updates in the July Essex WI News!


Ladies Who Lunch

From the feedback (and the photos below!) an excellent time was had by all at the Ladies Who Lunch, at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham on Crouch, today.

The surroundings and view were superb, with the sun brightly shining on the glistening water and the boats bobbing up and down. 120 ladies sat down for a delicious lunch served by the smartly dressed waitresses, followed by tea and coffee. Afterwards, popular speaker Guy Smith, Deputy President of the National Farmers Union, gave us an informative and interesting talk on his life in farming at St. Osyth. He followed this with a question time and many ladies were eager to hear his theories on weed killers, bees, suicide rates in farmers and many other concerns. He gave very lengthy replies to all and received a loud applause at the finish. An excellent speaker for the modern farming industry.

Congratulations To Our New Board For 2018-2019

A big congratulations to all the ladies below and we look forward to seeing what you get up to!

KAY LODGE Federation Chairman, Sandon and Marconi Belles WIs

SHEILA GUNSON Federation Treasurer, Tiptree Priory Heath WI

JANE BIRD Federation Vice Chairman, Chadwell St Mary WI

JAN CURTIS Federation Vice Chairman, Bulphan WI

STEPHANIE SMITH Federation Vice Chairman, St Osyth WI





ANDREA NEALE, Baddow Bees & Marconi Belles WIs





Essex About To Gain Two New Advisors

We spotted two familiar faces on the NFWI Facebook page recently. They have just completed the last part of their formal training at Denman. They have some assignments to complete and then they will become a fully-fledged WI Advisors! Can you spot them?










An Inspirational and Fun Day

Friday 16th March saw FEWI host their 101st County Annual Meeting. Over 1,000 ladies came together, not only to confirm and vote on county business and accounts, but also to hear from former RAF fighter pilot and motivational speaker, Mandy Hickson, and to sing and dance along to the West End Rat Pack.

The feedback for Mandy has blown everyone away – she was a witty, interesting and inspirational speaker whose experiences gave us a real flavour of what ambition, determination and team work can do. Many ladies have since commented on how much they will take away from her talk.

The West End Rat Pack ran through many classics from Frank, Sammy and Dean and got the ladies up on their feet and dancing to several songs. There was a real party atmosphere in the theatre and a couple of lucky ladies got to dance with them on the stage as well.

What with the wide selection of stalls, raffles and information stands too, it was a full day for everyone.

A big thank you to all the ladies who helped organise and ensure the smooth running of the event.

For more photos, please visit: WI Gallery


Resolutions Workshop – few places remaining

Pros & Cons Workshop at the FEWI Centre

Come and meet others in Essex who are interested in Resolutions and Community issues.

Come and join us on Tuesday 27th March 10am – 1pm to discuss the chosen resolution, how we can work with it locally if it is adopted, and also how to engage in the selection process for future resolutions

To book a space at this event, you can do one of the following:

  1. Email tickets@essexwi.org.uk
  2. Call 01245 382 233

London WIs On The March

This weekend, FEWI’s First Ladies WI Barking and Dagenham joined with other London based WIs to march and parade their banners, that we featured below previously, as part of the #100banner project. This is where members from 26 WIs took part in Digital Drama’s ‘Deeds not Words’ project to commemorate 100 years since some women in the UK got the right to vote. ‘Deeds not Words’ was inspired by the suffrage banner collection held in the archives of the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics. Community groups from across London created 100 banners depicting the lives and campaigns of local suffragettes.

In the words of the First Ladies themselves, “Oh – Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Trafalgar!! So uplifting to be sharing this momentous day with so many like minded people. Thank you all.”

Lots more details to be found on their Facebook page: First Ladies WI

Finished banners were paraded at yesterday at the #March4Women, and will also be at the Royal Albert Hall on International Women’s Day (8th March), and displayed at the Women of the World (WOW) Festival at London’s Southbank Centre on 10th and 11th March. They will then go on further display at various venues around London during 2018.

Your Snow Pictures

We asked, and boy did you respond! Thank you to everyone who contributed their wintery photographs. Here’s a small selection of what can be found on the post on Facebook – do take a wander over there to see the full selection.


2018 Resolution Confirmed


“Over 100,000 members have taken part in the 2018 selection process, the highest turnout ever. Thank you to all members who have taken part. One resolution has now been selected to go forward to the final vote at the Annual Meeting in Cardiff on 6th June.

The resolution is: Mental health matters

Mental health matters as much as physical health. The NFWI urges all WI members to recognise the importance of parity between mental health and physical health, and take action to make it as acceptable to talk about mental health issues as much as physical health issues, and to lobby government for better support for mental illness.”

For more details, resources and support, please visit our  Resolutions page, and check the Public Affairs News page for the latest updates.


Do You Need Advice? Check Out Our New Page

Check out our new Running Your WI page here, where you can find links to lots of useful NFWI information. Don’t forget that your WI Advisors have a wealth of in depth knowledge of the workings of the WI as well, so they would be a great point of contact. Finally, you can also email admin@essexwi.org.uk to ask one of the team at FEWI for their advice too.

First Ladies ‘Deeds Not Words’ Banner

Members from 26 WIs are taking part in Digital Drama’s ‘Deeds not Words’ project to commemorate 100 years since some women in the UK got the right to vote. ‘Deeds not Words’ is an exciting project inspired by the suffrage banner collection held in the archives of the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics. With the help of a project community artist, community groups from across London have been creating 100 banners depicting the lives and campaigns of local suffragettes.

Finished banners will be paraded at the #March4Women on 4th March, at the Royal Albert Hall on International Women’s Day (8th March), and displayed at the Women of the World (WOW) Festival at London’s Southbank Centre on 10th and 11th March. They will then go on further display at various venues around London during 2018.

Find out more about Deeds for Words,

The First Ladies Barking and Dagenham WI from Essex Federation took part and their craft group decided to focus on five elements when making their banner, each one providing a window into the past. These were:

  • The Ford sewing machinists’ strike of 1968 – a landmark labour-relations dispute in the UK and a trigger for passing the Equal Pay Act 1970.
  • A lamppost that suffragettes used to gather around before heading to central London. For a modern twist, they also featured an image of a suffragette and their WI President standing next to the lamppost.
  • A tribute to Annie Huggett – an active figure in the suffragette movement who regularly organised meetings in Barking. Today a women’s centre has been named after her.
  • A call out for women in the borough to use their right to vote.
  • Recognition of the Gender Equality Charter adopted by Barking and Dagenham Council in March 2016 – the first council in the country to adopt such a charter.

We’re sure you’ll agree that they have done us all proud and produced a truly marvellous banner! A huge well done to all the members involved.

New Speakers Day, February 2018

It was time for New Speakers Day again and we had a packed house of ladies from a wide variety of WIs. A big thank you to everyone who came. More photos and a full write up in the March edition of Essex News.

January 2018 Quiz

The January 2018 Quiz entitled “Vicars and Tarts (and Pies)” is being sent out in the post today (or if mailing was your option, this isn’t being sent out until 14th of Feb).

If you have not ordered yours yet, please do so via email admin@essexwi.org.uk or call on 01245 382233 to order!

Happy quizzing!!
Admin 😊

Ordering tickets via email!

If you would like to order your tickets via email please use the email address tickets@essexwi.org.uk

Please also let us know if you will be sending a cheque or if would like to be invoiced or if you would like to pay over the phone. If this is your preferred option, please leave your number and Tony will call you once the tickets have been issued. 

Also, (the last one I promise) if there is a different email address that you would like the tickets sent to, please let me know what that email address is.

Many thanks

Admin x

Boogie Time in Brentwood

The Brentwood Belles WI celebrated Christmas in style on the 20th December with singer and judge of the EsseX Factor singing competition, Joe Fryd, who did a marvellous job of getting everyone into the Christmas spirit. The party was also helped along with a dance floor, roving selfie camera and free flowing prosecco cocktail bar, run by their President, Jane. The favourite tipple of the evening was apparently a new Belles cocktail involving gin, elderflower and prosecco!

What did you WI get up to? Don’t forget to email in your photographs so we can include them in a round of your festivities!

Conga In Cranham

Upminster and Cranham WI last week held their Christmas party where they twisted, conga’d and generally danced the afternoon away. They even rounded things off with a rousing leg kicking along to New York, New York!

Orsett Christmas Fayre

Bulphan WI had a stall at the Orsett Christmas Fayre on Saturday 9th December. The Mayor of Thurrock and former Sky weather man, Francis Wilson, stopped by to say hello.

Pros and Cons Workshops 2018

Following on from 2 very successful Resolution Workshops in November, based around the short list of 5 proposed resolutions, we will be holding Pros and Cons workshops for the final proposed resolution(s) in March and April 2018, at the WI Centre, a North Essex venue and a South Essex venue. Dates and details will be confirmed as soon as possible. Please ring the office to reserve your place.

2017 Christmas Carol Service

A Celebration of Christmas was held at Chelmsford Cathedral, and WI members from all over the county attended to celebrate this festive event. The afternoon performance saw the Cathedral filled to capacity, and harpist Lyn Creasey entertained us with her beautiful music. Also, in the afternoon, Bobs Barbershop Choir provided a variety of lively songs. Lyn Creasey played again in the evening and the Essex Police Choir sang a marvellous choral selection to suit all tastes. In between the carols, several entertaining readings were heard. Everyone left the Cathedral in a true festive spirit.

Christmas Tree Winner Announced

The winning WI of the FEWI competition to decorate a Christmas tree with homemade compostable decorations has been decided. The decision was kindly made by Robert Brett, Curator of RHS Gardens Hyde Hall, who looked at which WIs had met the brief of a fully compostable (rather than recyclable) tree including the decorations, and also his own personal preference. And we are delighted to announce the winners are… Doddinghurst WI! img_1987.jpg So a huge well done and congratulations from us all to the ladies. And we would also like to pass on a thank you from the Board to all WIs who took part and made such an effort. The wide variety of ideas was impressive and no two trees were the same. They really showed off the breadth of ingenuity and creativity amongst the members of FEWI. Thank you for your support of this competition.

FEWI Centenary Ball

We will shortly have a small selection of the official photographs of some of our very glamorous members, to show you. In the meantime, you can see the whole collection by following the link below. Click on the link, then click on the WI Essex Centenary Ball album, and then enter your name and email address to view. Enjoy! Lightning Event Photos Sales Gallery

A Bursary Winners Delight!

  IMG_7049 We have received this lovely report from Jane Sealy all about her Denman bursary win and what she chose to do… “ . . . you have won the Llewellyn-Marriage £350 bursary towards a course at Denman.” I looked at the letter from FEWI and slowly re-read the words. I have always wanted to go to Denman, now was my chance! Denman – formerly known as Denman College – is the jewel in the Women’s Institute crown. A gracious Manor House established to provide courses in Cookery, Lifestyle and Craft to any WI member and nowadays open to all – including men – with a discount for members. Thumbing through the Catalogue I eventually selected “silver jewellery making”. I fancied trying my hand at working with metal, using a fret saw and fusing with a blowtorch. This course cost £485 so I made up the difference – and I paid out £85 in materials. But I had such fun! The course tutor, Pauline, was very patient and allowed us to work at our own pace after she had demonstrated the required techniques. I was delighted with my first piece – a ring. What completely took my breath away was my twisted silver bangle. The dull circle of twisted wire on which I had been working was transformed into a gleaming bracelet after a session in the ‘tumbler’. I made that?! By the end of the course I had a collection of bangles, a ring, a pair of cuff-links and a pendant. I have already booked myself on the course next year. Where else will you get three nights/ four days FULL board, en suite AND tuition in a state-of-the art workshop for approximately £500? Not forgetting the free taxi ride from Oxford Rail Station at 3:45pm on arrival day and 1:30pm on departure day.

There’s more of Jane’s pictures to be found at: Denman Activity Holiday


Centenary Tree Decorating Competition

The 24th November saw the day that many of our WIs converged on RHS Garden Hyde Hall to decorate their centenary Christmas trees. The brief was that anything on the tree was compostable, which led to many interesting decoration choices! We saw everything from hydrangeas to popcorn, from carrots to goose eggs and personalised wooden baubles. The sheer amount of time and effort that members had clearly put into these trees and decorations was phenomenal and we look forward very much to announcing the winner on Monday 27th November. So watch this space! To see all the photographs from the day, follow this link: Centenary Trees


Woodlands Group Afternoon Tea!

Woodland Group with Martin Harrison Members from Woodland Group of WI’s gathered together for an afternoon of homemade cakes, tea/coffee together with an alphabet of songs from Martyn Harrison. The produce, plant and raffle stalls did a roaring trade and members went home having enjoyed a lovely afternoon.

Hornchurch Harmonies Turn 5!

IMG-0078a It has been a busy year for Hornchurch Harmonies WI as they celebrate their 5th birthday. Members have attended the Essex Centenary meeting and the WI Fair. They also entered the Diverse Essex show (their first time of entering a WI show) and they received three gold stars, which was not bad for their first attempt! Members have also enjoyed trips to Romford Dogs, the theatre, a meal out plus a picnic and fun and games in the park. They’ve tried Burlesque, been interviewed by the local paper, held a plant stall at the Ingrebourne Group meeting, held a quiz to get them thinking on resolutions, made green hearts whilst discussing climate change and had various speakers and welcomed many visitors. They have also taken their craft skills to the local women’s refuge to teach them how to knit, crotchet etc. Their 5th Birthday celebrations in October included spooky Halloween treats made by members, making flowers using wire and nail varnish and of course tea and cake. Has your WI celebrated a birthday recently? Have you got a good digital photograph of the event? Why not email us the details?