The role of WI Advisors is to support and guide our WIs, whether they be new or long standing ones, whilst promoting the WI to the wider population. To fulfil this role, they take part in a national training scheme that takes approximately two years to complete.

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Below are your current WI Advisors and details of the convening groups they look after.

Details of which WIs are in which groups can be found here: WI Groups


Jo AdamsLooks after:




Jane BirdLooks after:

 Jane Bird who has been a member for 14 years, during which time she has been on her WIs committee holding the roles of Secretary and Treasurer. Jane is a WI Adviser and one of the groups she looks after is the London Group, featured in this edition. At Federation level Jane is, for the second time, Chairman of the Members Advisory Committee. Jane is also on the Board of Trustees, Arts and Leisure, Communications and Marketing committees and served on Public Affairs committee and as Resolutions Adviser.
You might wonder how Jane has any free time left after all of these but she assures us that she leads an equally busy home life, supporting her two daughters who have careers in teaching and the travel industry, Jane told us that they are very interested in the WI campaigns, maybe members in the future. She also enjoys holidays, walking her two dogs, visiting National Trust properties, swimming, ballroom and Latin dancing many of these accompanied by her WISH (WI Supporting Husband), Mark.
Jane says the best things about being a member of the WI is the friends she has made and the things she has learnt. One of her fondest memories during her time as an adviser is dancing the twist at a WI party at 10 in the morning! Jane is at her WI happiest when out with grass roots members at their WI’s.

Jan CurtisLooks after:

Rochford Hundred


 Jan says, “I’ve been a member of Bulphan WI for 7 years & am currently vice-president, press/media officer & one of our reps on the Thames group committee. From the minute of joining I loved the whole ethos, history & inspiration of the WI which lead on to my joining the Communications & Marketing, and Public Affairs committees and becoming part of the archive team at Federation. Then taking the step to train as an Adviser seemed a natural progression, which I’m thoroughly enjoying especially getting to visit all the fab WIs around Essex.
In my other life I’m a mum of two sons who are 24 & 22, have an allotment with chickens, enjoy travelling around the country in our motorhome sometimes visiting a WI in the area we’re staying in.  I also volunteer at the local foodbank, community café, run my own business & am secretary of the residents association where we live. In amongst all this I fit in loads of opportunities to enjoy time with my family & friends which usually involves drinking prosecco at some point!
Other parts of my WI journey so far have been camping with 500 WI members at Tea & Tents, resulting in my being one of the core group of  TWICE (The WI Campers Essex) which has its second camp this year. Having the picture of our group at NFWI’s Brighton AGM published in the Sunday Telegraph & taking part in the pageant at the County Annual Meeting in March. 
One of our members recently told me “If you were a stick of rock and we cut you in half it would say WI all the way through”,  more than happy to accept that comment and I’m looking forward to many more WI based adventures with the wide circle of friends being a member of the WI brings.”

sheila GunsonLooks after:

Le Sokens
Roman River


Sheila is also known as the Bag Lady for her entertaining talk on how to update your bags & revitalise charity shop finds with a few trimmings, applique and easy fixes. She also presents each new adviser before they first go to Denman for training, with a handmade case to keep their adviser toolkit in. Talking of Denman Sheila was a tutor there for 14 years and recalls that time very fondly; she still takes every opportunity to go there to learn a new skill.
Both these roles have given Sheila the chance to meet members from across Essex and the country, making many long term friends along the way. In fact Sheila says this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being an adviser and a member of the WI. She also likes judging the competitions at the WIs she attends as the interesting and varied take on the topics is always good fun.
You would never believe that she was shy and retiring when she first started her training but it is that training and having to attend meetings that has given her the confidence and opportunity to take the steps to do things she would never of dreamed of getting involved. She has chaired the Essex Membership Advisory Committee, and has been on NFWI Membership Advisory Committee which meant that she had to find her way to London on her own, although she still finds travelling around the Dengie area a bit scary at times! Sheila is now Essex Federation Treasurer, a role she is embracing and hoping to carry on with to see some of the recommendations and systems she has put into place reach fruition.
Sheila is also a member of the needlework team who produce such wonderful work as the latest centenary banner and new tapestry for the Essex room at Denman. Sheila is very proud of being involved in these projects and part of the legacy they leave, as she and the rest of the team should be. She also feels privileged to have met people who have all these wonderful talents and skills. She is also very proud to be a member of the WI wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the WIs who have invited her along to their meetings as that’s what she enjoys the most about being an Adviser.

Kay Lodge Looks after:

Colne Valley



Jan NashLooks after:


Shirley PerkinsLooks after:



WI Adviser Shirley Perkins who was involved in Guiding as a District Commissioner and Guide Captain along with running a Brownie pack. So joining the WI in Winchester aged 21 seemed a natural progression, it’s often said WI is guiding for grownups.
Shirley has two children, Scott and Kirsty, and five grandchildren. They, along with looking after her grandson’s goldfish, keep her busy, but she has still found time to be President of Leigh Evening WI for nine years, as well as being a dual member at Broadway Belles WI.
Flowers are Shirley’s other great love, she’s been a member of NAFAS for many years and describes it as Fun with Flowers and Friendship. She happily demonstrates her talent for this art at events and WIs, you may have seen some of her lovely work at County meetings over the last few years including the recent County Annual Meeting.
Shirley became a WI adviser 6 years ago – when she asked why they thought she’d be suitable, the part of the reply she recalls is that she likes to talk, something she wholeheartedly agrees with. Shirley enjoys meeting people and is very much a people person who believes you get back double what you give out. She feels very lucky to be a part of the WI and to have benefited greatly from the support she’s received from its members.
LPat Pratley ooks after:



Pat, is known amongst the other WI Advisers as “Our rock of the north” as she looks after several WIs in the north of the County has been an Adviser for 7 years, although she has been a member for over 40 years. In that time Pat has taken on most of the roles within a WI but never been a Treasurer as “it’s just not her thing”. That said Pat is a fully trained Independent Financial Examiner and is happy to work with WIs in this role, especially leading up to the end of the financial year.
The three loves of her life apart of course from her children, two daughters and a son, now with the added bonus of a lovely grandson are the WI, Flower Club and cycling, although she doesn’t do so much of the cycling now days. Pat also enjoys crafts and will try out any new ones that she comes across, especially those on offer at Federation as that means she gets to meet members as well. Meeting the members has been a major enjoyment both as an Adviser and during her time as Chairman of Essex Federation, a role which she was honoured to accept and she had a wonderful time going to many WIs, where of course she was made really welcome in the way only WIs can. Pat has found her time as an Adviser a really satisfying one, answering queries, supporting WIs and members, helping resolve problems but she admits she doesn’t enjoy the one thing that seems to blight all WI Advisers, getting lost in the depths of Essex especially when it’s dark and usually raining!
Pat’s latest “hat” is as Essex Denman Ambassador and hostess, which she has been for nearly 2 years. It’s a busy role but as we’re sure all those who went on the last Essex Denman weekend will agree, one that Pat does very well. Pat told us about the changes she has seen over her years visiting Denman, in the 1970’s you would have had to make your own bed and the teas, none of the equipment that they use today was about then. That said Pat has enjoyed all her visits and that comes across in the way she talks so fondly about Denman. Being there for the members and doing what is best for them in whatever the role comes across when talking to Pat, what more could be asked of anyone who volunteers as much time as she does for the good of the WI.

Angie StephensonLooks after:

Spring Valley