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Official magazine of the National Women’s Register


Registered charity number 295198

How much do you know about FGM?

Connecting women

who are interested in everything and talk about anything

Join the fight against dementia

Nature versus human innovation The latest news on this year’s conference

Sweet calendar girls


Famous paintings as you’ve never seen them before!

Adventures in Cuba and a champagne celebration on a Scottish mountain top.

Microfibres and their effect on the food we eat

What’s coming out in your wash?


I smiled and...

Not a member? NWR could be for you!


Have your children just left home? Have you moved to a new area? Have you experienced some other big life change? Come and meet other women to share and explore thoughts, ideas and experiences. Enjoy lively, stimulating conversation, broaden your horizons and make new friends. We offer a range of activities, from book clubs to walking groups. Join us.

Are yo u in te re sted in

jo in ing NWR? Co nt ac t us on 01603 406 767 or offic e@nw r.o rg .uk or vi sit w w w. nw r.o rg .uk to fin d ou t more.

4 NWR News Growing members in Seaford, educating children in Kenya, keeping them warm in Laos with home knitting, plus talks on FGM and microfibre pollution — what a busy bunch!

9 Citizen Science A fantastic opportunity to take part in dementia research with King’s College, London

10 NWR Annual Conference Find out more about what’s on offer and what goes on behind the scenes

12 Arts Alrewas’s homage to famous painters, a 1970s dinner party, creative writings and Big Read book reviews

21 Travel

What’s On?

Anniversary celebrations up a mountain and Cuban explorations 19 May 2018

The Rothschilds in the Vale of Aylesbury: their homes, their collections and their influence

Leighton Buzzard

23 June 2018

NWR Annual Conference — Nature versus human innovation See page 10 for more information

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Chester

29 September 2018

Area meeting speaker Jane Keightley at Sudbrooke. Contact Faith Oxford for more details:


6 October 2018

The Audacity to Dream — the future of our National Health Service Keynote speaker: Ann Widdecombe. See page 3 for more information.

Sarum Academy, Salisbury

12­–15 November 2018

Telephone Treasure Trail

National For more events visit

A huge thank you for all your submissions! We were completely swamped with them this edition, so if you don’t see your news here do look out for it on the website blog or group news. For the next edition, please send me your news and ideas by 31 August 2018 (copyright of material is transferred to NWR on submission unless otherwise requested).

Care about the environment, care about NWR

NWR Magazine is available in an audio version for the visually impaired. Please contact the NWR office on 01603 406 767 or, or find it on our website at

Don’t be the only one to read this magazine! Instead of putting it into your recycling bin, spread the word. Recycle it at hairdressers, libraries, vets, dentists… Anywhere you find other women who might be interested in knowing about our much loved NWR. If you would like to opt out of receiving a paper magazine, please let us know.

Welcome to our Spring issue By the time you read this we will be one third of the way through 2018 and the NWR financial year. I always feel a great sense of excitement in January for the coming twelve months — what will we achieve this year? How can we improve national NWR for local groups and independent members? As I write, the online conference booking system implemented for the first time this year for the National Conference is working well. It provides delegates with a detailed list of all the conference options and immediate confirmation of their bookings. The excellent Chester committee, led by Jill Lucas, have provided members with an amazing choice of conference and leisure activities. Meanwhile Natalie is busy securing a venue for the 2019 conference while overseeing

improvements in our IT systems and the implementation of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Most of you will have completed the 2018 Member Survey which is sent to members with email addresses. This will provide us with essential and robust data about members and their preferences to help us as we develop our Strategic Plan for 2019-2022. The trustees have also been exploring the issues around recruiting a patron and, hopefully, we will be able to announce one or more names before the end of 2018. This would provide more exposure for NWR, especially as we approach our sixtieth anniversary in 2020. Our aim is to capitalise on this unique opportunity to celebrate past and future NWR. A small team will start work in the summer on

Nye Bevan’s Dream

opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella NWR South West Area invite organisation to provide services that were free to all at the point of delivery. you to join them in October Until then, healthcare in Britain had for a one-day conference been founded on insurance based looking at the future of our schemes. The NHS changed this, and medical care became free and based National Health Service on need rather than on ability to pay. The Beveridge Report of 1942 set out It was entirely financed from taxation, plans for the future of post-war Britain. It which meant the rich contributed more identified the main issues facing British than the poor. Everyone was eligible society, and laid the foundations of what for treatment, even foreigners living became known as the Welfare State. temporarily in Britain, and treatment When Labour came to power in 1945, an could be given at any NHS institution extensive programme of welfare measures anywhere in the country. followed, including the establishment of a This year marks the 70th anniversary National Health Service. of Nye Bevan’s dream and, as we all On 5th July 1948 the Minister for know, the NHS is struggling. Health, Aneurin Bevan, strode into a At our 2016 SW conference we Manchester hospital to launch a free examined issues that would help to healthcare service. This audacious make the world a better place, and we dream has brought innovation and think that it is now time to consider controversy ever since. For the first time, taking responsibility for our own health. hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, With this in mind, NWR in the south-

Get in touch Editor: Judith Charlton Email: Website: Twitter: @nwruk

Facebook: Telephone: 01603 406767 Address: NWR, 23 Vulcan House, Vulcan Road North, Norwich, NR6 6AQ

ideas for national, regional, area and local events so we can bring more members together and raise our profile for the decade ahead. If you would like to be involved then let us know. It’s a great opportunity to get to know more NWR members and contribute to this milestone anniversary. In the meantime enjoy this magazine. As well as information about the Conference we have articles on GDPR, plastics pollution, dementia, FGM, and some wonderfully creative pieces of writing and art work. Don’t forget to pass it on so others can learn about NWR and appreciate our wide interests. Josephine Burt, Chair of Trustees

The Audacity to Dream Saturday 6th October 2018 Sarum Academy, Salisbury NWR members £36, non-members £38 Keynote speaker: Ann Widdecombe To book, email:

west will be running another one-day conference in October this year. The conference is open to all but places are limited, so book now! As some of you discovered two years ago, Salisbury is a lovely place to visit, so why not make a weekend of it? Once you have reserved your place, we will send you a list of afternoon workshops to choose from in advance (maximum 20 places per workshop) and a suggested reading list.

Citizen Science — how was it for you? We would love to hear from any members who decide to take part in the PROTECT dementia research project and are willing to share their experiences

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 3


Seeds of success You may remember that, in 2010, Deepings NWR member Rita Fowler won the Mary Stott award for her work with the charity the Mustard Seed Project (MSP) which she and her husband founded to provide schooling for children in Mgongeni, an urban slum area of Mombasa, Kenya. But you’ll never believe what has happened since then. The school opened in 2009 with 17 pupils, and now has 275 of the poorest children. There are equal numbers of boys and girls aged three to 14 years, in 11 classes of 25. When Rita received the award the school had just three teachers: now there are 12, as well as two teaching assistants, two cleaner/caretakers, three cooks and two night security guards. In addition: ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

The feeding programme now includes a balanced meal at lunchtime as well as mid-morning porridge; A well and a borehole have been dug; Mosquito nets have been obtained for every family in the community; MSP has trained 100 women to enable them to set up their own businesses and has provided them with loans; Adult education classes have been set up in the school to teach basic Swahili reading and writing skills; Health training has been provided for several groups of women; A sports association has been started with the aim of motivating youth; MSP is working with the university and employers to help young people into training for work; In June 2016 a clinic was opened to help keep the children and their families healthy; Training has been provided for four teachers.

The school started in a rented building but, amazingly, they have now managed to build the ground floor of their own school. They are still working tirelessly to raise funds to build the first floor in order to accommodate the children who are still in the rented building.

Sheila McGurk (left) presents Rita with £100 TTT Quiz prize money


NWR Magazine Spring 2018

And what wonderful things have resulted from all this. All children apart from those with very special needs are meeting or exceeding government expectations for their age as a result of the excellent teaching they receive. Rita and Geoff spend two months each year in Kenya where Rita holds in-service training for the teachers. Last year a group of children entered a national music competition and came second in their choral speaking class. Importantly those with special needs are also making excellent progress. We are so proud of Rita’s achievements that when Deepings NWR won £100 for the Telephone Treasure Trail quiz we knew exactly how to spend it — we gave it to Rita! To find out more about what MSP are doing visit their website Sheila McGurk

Do you know someone like Rita?

The Mary Stott award is presented to an NWR member who has accomplished something exceptional. Any member may make a nomination. Other past winners include Linda Messham from Congleton for her all-female cast plays, and Carol Crane from Chard who set up the Rosie Crane Trust which supports bereaved parents through their grief after the loss of a son or daughter. Do you know someone like this? Please send your nominations (with consent of the nominee) to the office together with a brief profile of the candidate, a résumé of her achievements, your name and group. The deadline for nominations is April 30th.


Jungle Jumpers Leighton Buzzard NWR recently enjoyed a talk about an educational trust in Laos which had particular meaning for two members, Lesley Inchley and Penny Jamieson.

Lesley’s story In April 2015, my husband Richard and I went to Laos. We spent two days travelling down the Mekong River on a traditional riverboat and on our second night we arrived in Luang Prabang, a beautiful and historically fascinating town which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. We had already come to love what we had seen of this largely undiscovered country and its people, and our two days in Luang Prabang left us wishing that we could stay longer. Just before sunset on the second day our guide, Mr Sing, took us to a tiny monastery at the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan, the two rivers on which the town stands. We sat with our drinks in total peace, watching the sunset and contemplating a fragile looking bamboo bridge leading to the jungle covered bank on the far side of the river. Some three weeks after our return from Laos, I visited the Heath and Reach annual village show, near Leighton Buzzard. My friend Rosemary Young, also a member of NWR, had instigated a knitting competition and asked me if I would be the judge. I was interested to see that a lot of the jumpers had been knitted to the same pattern and wondered why. Rosemary told me that they had been made by members of the WI and, after the competition, they would be taken to Laos by a local resident, a man named Peter

Banwell. Peter had visited Laos as a tourist in 2008 and had become involved with a charity called Laos Educational Opportunities Trust (LEOT), based in Luang Prabang. He became a trustee in 2009 and is now chairman. At that moment Peter walked into the room, we were introduced, and I told him of my recent visit to the country that he clearly knew very well. He told me that the charity had begun by opening a school just outside Luang Prabang. Naturally, I wanted to know exactly where the school was. He asked me if I had seen the bamboo bridge and of course I told him that it was a treasured memory of a beautiful evening. Apparently, had I crossed the bridge and gone a little to the left I would have found his school. And the reason for the jumpers? It seems that, at certain times of the year, the jungle at night can be very chilly, and many of the people are subsistence farmers struggling to feed their families, never mind finding money for extra clothes to keep them warm at night. As a result of my meeting with Peter we added to our NWR schedule an evening at his lovely home in Leighton Buzzard during which, with a fascinating slide show, he told us about his connections with Laos and the work of LEOT. It all seemed a very long way away from central Bedfordshire. Lesley Inchley

Penny’s story At Peter’s talk, I pricked up my ears when he mentioned the fact that local people knit jumpers for the children he visits. I thought to myself, I like knitting but don’t do much these days as no one wants knitted jumpers. As these children had an obvious need for warm clothes, I decided to get my knitting needles out and look out some left-over wool from past projects. From this I knitted three jumpers, but that was just the start. Having caught the bug, I found I couldn’t sit still without my needles clicking away, so I asked NWR members, friends, family, anyone, if they had any left-over wool they didn’t want. It soon came flooding in. Armed with wool of assorted colours and some old knitting patterns, I set to and have now totalled nearly 100 very colourful jumpers. In the photo I am holding a batch of about 30 that Peter took to Laos recently. He is very creative with his packing and manages to bundle everything into manageable pieces of luggage — I wish I knew how he does it. Peter plans to continue going to Laos two or three times a year, and meanwhile I plough my way through the balls of wool friends have given me, happy in the knowledge that these jumpers will reach the people they were intended for and will keep them nice and warm. Penny Jamieson

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 5


Bursting at the seams in Seaford Reports of the demise of NWR are definitely premature in Seaford — they have grown from one to six groups since 2001. How do they do it? Following Jo Thomson’s article in the last magazine, and more recently the news that nationally membership is falling, I decided to write about our Seaford groups: and I say groups because we have six of them!

What we do Although I understand there had been a group here once before, Seaford 1 was set up in 2001. This grew out of members’ homes quite quickly, splitting in two when membership reached around 25. Subsequently, as members have come and gone over the years, new groups have been added, each numbering between 11 and 15 members. During that time at least two complete groups have left the organisation to go their own way as a group of friends sharing activities. Currently there is a tendency for each group to reflect its members’ interests and so each programme is a little different. Members of other groups are free to tag along on outings or come to home based discussions if space permits. We also have events where all 70 plus of us come together – a birthday outing, a summer or Christmas event, and each spring we hire a hall to celebrate the annual country theme. In addition, all members are welcome to come to a monthly coffee morning, a gardeners’ group, a knit, craft and natter group, a book group and, in the last year, a walking group which has become very popular indeed. We have a wonderful Seaford groups co-ordinator, Jenny Wright, who was in fact the founder member in 2001. She holds half yearly planning meetings, attended by the LOs and Treasurers from each group, to organise the shared events. She also meets all prospective members and arranges for them to attend three meetings before they commit to joining.

Why are there so many of us? Seaford is a magnet for the newly retired and those about to retire. We have had newcomers contact us before they move here, and some very soon afterwards, as they want to get to know the local area and access support and advice. I personally found this incredibly helpful when I came here. Others are experiencing life changes and want to extend their activity and friendship networks. All together at Seaford’s Romanian themed evening in March

How do we recruit? There are some women who hear about us from other things members do in the community; ■■ We have a free monthly advert in Seaford Scene, our local listings magazine, referring women to the office or our local email contact; ■■ We publish some of our groups’ programmes on the national NWR website – many of those who have joined recently have seen these and contacted us because they are interested in what we do. Most of Seaford 2 left a couple of years ago and this is the group we are currently refilling. After a couple of false starts a year or so ago we suddenly found ourselves in January 2018 with 11 recruits since October last year… ■■

Supporting new women When I moved to Seaford just over four years ago, Seaford 5 was bursting at the seams and so Jenny suggested we set up Seaford 6. I recruited someone I had just met in a book group and two of my neighbours, both of whom were also new to the area. We had support from Jenny and other longstanding members who produced our initial programme and swelled our numbers while we got going. In a few months there were six of us and we were ready to go it alone, growing in the following year to around ten. This is the system we are repeating with the new Seaford 2. As it has received such an influx of members in such a short time, some have not even met each other yet and they

If members open their hearts and minds, and homes if they are able, NWR can continue to grow and thrive are not ready to have their own LO and Treasurer. Since I relinquished my initial Seaford 6 LO role a couple of years back, I will be organising their planning meeting and looking after them for the next six months while they find their feet. If what we have seen of them so far is anything to go by they will soon be having their own officers. I honestly believe that recruitment depends on the goodwill of local members. If they open their hearts and minds, and homes if they are able, NWR can continue to grow and thrive. Sadly, I tried to join another group before I moved to the coast and was told it was full… I did not give up as you see. In Seaford we will always try to find space for women who are interested in everything and talk about anything! I wonder if we will have a Seaford 7 one day? Christine Brett, Seaford 6


How much do you know about FGM? When Trentham NWR spent an evening discussing FGM, they discovered that the practice is more widespread in this country than some might have thought.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the practice of removing all or part of a girl’s labia and clitoris before puberty. In many cultures, mostly African, this is seen as an important rite of passage for girls as, without it, they might be rejected by their community and find it difficult to arrange a marriage. Village elders might maintain that this practice is part of Islamic teaching but it predates both Islam and Christianity and neither religion condones it. According to World Health Organisation figures, there are around 133 million alive today who have undergone this operation, done without anaesthetic by women with no medical training. You might think this is just an African problem and should not concern us but statistics from the website of the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD) tell us there are 60,000 girls under 15 years of age here in the UK at risk of FGM and there are 137,000

girls and women living here and facing the consequences of having had FGM. In this country it is classed as child abuse and has been illegal since 1985 and, since 2003, it is also an offence to take a child abroad for FGM.

What is being done? Compulsory sex and relationships education in our schools; ■■ The education of teachers, school nurses and health professionals so that they are aware of the issue; ■■ Mandatory reporting: if FGM is discovered or suspected the law states this must be reported to appropriate authorities. Operation Limelight is an initiative from airport police and UK Border Control who look for suspicious and vulnerable passengers both leaving and entering the UK. We spent an evening discussing this topic and this is what we discovered — a member told us of the work being done by Mothers Union in 83 countries to eradicate FGM, we learned that schools and hospitals have safeguarding procedures and that they have used them. We heard of a midwife funded to do research in South Wales which ■■

will not only help mothers scarred by mutilation give birth vaginally but also ensure that midwives are well informed.

What should happen? We felt the answer lies in education not only of children but also their mothers: there needs to be a cultural shift to show that this practice is wrong and that there is no justifiable reason for it. We are optimistic that, in time, this will happen and FGM will become history.

PLEASE, talk about it Talk to family members, friends, add it to your list of NWR discussion topics. There are many sources of information to be found, among them: ■■ Mothers Union www.mothersunion. org — search for GBV ■■ UNICEF — search for FGM ■■ Daughters of Eve ■■ FORWARD ■■ The New Step for African Community works in north west England: ■■ Two films worth watching are Jaha’s Promise (2016) and Moolaadé (2004). Sarah Akhtar

Hitting the headlines in Falkirk As part of their recruitment drive, Falkirk NWR recently had a lovely long write up in their local paper, the Falkirk Herald. Here is a short extract quoting Local Organiser Alison Whitton: “It’s a great group of women and no topic is out of bounds, although we tend to steer away from babies and children or anything domestic – as that’s the whole point of the exercise!

“It gives us a chance to talk about a variety of subjects – it is intellectually stimulating, even when you don’t think a particular subject is of great interest to you. It’s surprising at times!” Read the full story at:

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 7


What’s coming out in your wash? More than you might think. Marlow NWR recently enjoyed an eye-opening talk about microplastic fibre pollution, to which we contribute every time we wash our clothes.

Our speaker was a member of the WI, which is currently campaigning on this issue. The campaign arose from a member’s resolution passed overwhelmingly at the 2017 National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) Annual Meeting, calling on Government and industry to research and develop solutions to the problem of microplastic fibres in our oceans. Microplastic fibres are defined by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as plastic fragments smaller than 5mm. They are shed from

25% of fish studied had plastic fibres and debris in their gut synthetic clothing with every wash and end up in the wider environment. Around 85% of human-made materials found on the coastline consists of microplastic fibres. Because of their small size, microplastics are readily ingested by aquatic life. As well as leaching chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), they also have the ability to absorb

1,900 microplastic fibres can be rinsed off just one synthetic garment. toxins and pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and to concentrate them in animals’ tissues. In addition to the adverse effect they have on aquatic life, microplastic fibres travel through the food chain. It is not yet known how much of the particles and toxins ends up in the human diet but a study examining fish sold in markets in California and Indonesia found that a quarter had plastic fibres and debris in their gut. They have also been found in drinking water, honey and table salt. A report by ecologist Mark Browne1 estimated that around 1,900 individual microplastic fibres can be rinsed off just one

synthetic garment. Another study, by Plymouth University2, looked at the factors that influence how many fibres will be shed. The type of fabric is one such factor. It was found that 140,000 fibres were shed per washing machine load of polyester-cotton blend fabric compared with 730,000 fibres for acrylic. In addition, the “scrub” effect of washing powder loosens fibres more than washing liquid; low temperatures are less damaging than high; short cycles cause less friction than long ones, as do full loads. The rise of fast fashion — low cost, mass produced clothing designed for instant gratification — only serves to exacerbate the problem. Overall clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014, and between 2009 and 2013 global consumption of synthetic clothing and textiles increased from 35.8 million tonnes to 55 million tonnes. Obviously, there is a need for research from industry and government into solutions such as fitting filters to waste

Clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014 water treatment plants, fitting filters to washing machines, developing better quality clothing or fabrics coated with an anti-shed treatment, even a waterless washing machine. Work is also underway on a laundry ball which would attract and capture microfibres in the washing machine. And, of course, we can play our part: ■■ Wash clothes less frequently; ■■ Make sure you have a full load each time you use your washing machine; ■■ Use washing liquid rather than powder; ■■ Wash at a low temperature; ■■ Use short washing cycles; ■■ Buy fewer, better quality clothes, in natural fibres. Find out more on the WI website:

1. 2.


NWR Magazine Spring 2018


Join the fight against dementia A major UK study, run by scientists at King’s College London, makes it possible for members of the public to support dementia research from the comfort of their own home. The PROTECT Study is an online project that aims to understand what happens to our brains as we age and why people develop dementia. It is gathering valuable data on how the brain changes with age and investigating which factors in mid-life affect our risk for the disease. Certain lifestyle factors such as exercise,

PROTECT is something you can do from home and shape around your own lifestyle

Dementia is an umbrella term. It describes a wide set of symptoms including memory loss, mood changes and problems with communication. There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. There will be over a million people by 2025. One in three people over 65 will die with dementia. Dementia currently costs the UK over £26 billion each year. All figures courtesy of Alzheimer’s Society

thing about online projects is that you are breaking the geographical boundaries between eager participants and research departments. PROTECT is something you can simply do from home and shape around your own lifestyle. Although the tests are not demanding in nature, their future value to researchers will be indescribable.” Who can join the PROTECT Study?

You can take part in the project if: You are aged 50 or over. ■■ You live in the United Kingdom. smoking and blood pressure have been ■■ You have not been diagnosed with dementia. found to affect our risk of dementia, and ■ ■ You have access to a computer and there is increasing evidence that our the internet. genes play a role too. Participants in PROTECT provide PROTECT is actively looking for people lifestyle information about themselves to take part and has an overall target of and complete online assessments to 50,000 participants across the UK. measure their abilities in areas such as The study itself is due to last a period memory and reasoning. By repeating of 10 years, but participants can choose these assessments each year, the to stay involved for as little or as long as PROTECT investigators will monitor they like. how they change over the study and gather data that will help develop Keep updated on related research better approaches to prevent and treat dementia in the future. To help Other than advancing dementia answer the study’s genetic questions, research, taking part in PROTECT participants are also asked to provide a means you would be joining a sample of their DNA through a simple stronghold of 24,000 participants from at-home kit. across the UK! You would be kept Prof Dag Aarsland, updated on the project through the Chair of Old Age PROTECT newsletter, and can read Psychiatry at King’s up on fascinating findings from an College London and array of scientific fields — dementia, a Lead Investigator schizophrenia, addictions, autism and for the PROTECT more — through the King’s College study, says “The great London newsfeed. ■■

You would also be the first to hear of new exciting sub-studies hosted on the PROTECT platform, and have the opportunity to take part in novel

The value to researchers will be indescribable research such as the popular Brain Training programme. Although the Brain Training study has now ended, the games are still available and free to use by all PROTECT participants. If you’ve always thought about taking part in research but felt uneasy about drug trials or the prospect of clinic visits, then this could be the study for you.

To find out more about PROTECT or to enrol in the study, please visit Their friendly helpdesk team can be contacted via email or phone: 0207 848 8183 PROTECT is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 9


A weekend to remember Nature versus human innovation is the theme of this year’s NWR National Conference taking place in Chester, June 22nd–24th. Don’t miss out! work has been featured in the press:, or you can read more here: Lyndsey hopes to join us for the conference dinner on Friday evening! Dr Kate Pressland, a Research Manager for the Soil Association, is our second speaker on Saturday. Kate works closely with farmers, advisors and scientists to develop on-farm trials aimed at increasing agricultural sustainability and resilience. Her talk will contrast big companies who use chemicals with Three women speakers, all working at individual farmers who are coming the cutting edge of nature and human together to promote innovation and innovation, will provide a fascinating sustainability though nature — read and stimulating insight into their more at work. Whilst their specialisms are very In response to the many members different they all are wrestling with the dichotomy between advances in science who told us they preferred it when we held a two-day conference, this year and its impact on the natural world. we are extending the programme to Dr Lyndsey Butterworth, an optional Sunday morning. This our Saturday morning will include lunch and, of course, the speaker, is a Research opportunity to stay on for the afternoon Associate at the Wellcome wraparound events. Centre for Mitochondrial Our speaker on Sunday Research, with links to is Catherine Barton from the Newcastle Fertility Centre. Her role is to investigate some of the safety Chester Zoo. Cat’s role as Field Conservation issues surrounding the new IVF based Manager is focused on techniques — so-called three-person managing partnerships babies — being developed to prevent with projects in Borneo and Sumatra, in transmission of Mitochondrial DNA particular in engaging with stakeholders disease. Lyndsey says she “feels very in the palm oil supply chain. Her work privileged to have the opportunity to work on such a pioneering project”. The in promoting sustainable palm oil is Booking is now well underway for our exciting national conference taking place in Chester at the Crowne Plaza and The Queen Hotel. Booking closes at the end of April so, if you haven’t already, go to the eventstop website where you will find all the details you need about the conference and wraparound events. See the box for details, or ring the NWR Office if you would prefer to talk to a helpful human!

Women at the cutting edge


NWR Magazine Spring 2018

aimed at preventing mass deforestation in South East Asia and preserving the habitats of endangered animals. You can find out more here: Gz1Smj Between speakers there will be discussions and workshops — Horrible Handwriting, Corks Out, Chester Guilds, to name a few, as well as more active events such as drumming and Pilates.

Romans to racing Chester is a vibrant, fascinating and wonderfully compact city, rated the number one tourist attraction in the North West. A fully walled city, famed for its rich Roman history, it boasts one of the largest Roman amphitheatres in the UK. It has a magnificent cathedral, a beautiful river, a marvellous race course, wonderful shops and many restaurants and historic buildings. Chester is also ideally situated for visiting North Wales and the rolling Cheshire countryside, as well as Jodrell Bank and the famed Lovell telescope. You really need time to do justice to the area: we hope you will come for the full three days and take advantage of the events and outings offered on Friday afternoon, as well as the evening dinner. The organising committee promise you a very warm welcome and an interesting and stimulating time.

It doesn’t just happen by magic A dedicated and hard-working planning committee have been meeting since last year to ensure the conference programme is interesting and varied, and that the whole event runs smoothly. It is made up of volunteers from Chester, Wales and Cheshire NWR groups with Area Organiser Jill Lucas in the chair. They have been well

BOOK NOW! Go to for our new, user friendly, online booking system. Or find a link on the NWR website. If you have any difficulty accessing this website please ring Sam or Angie at the National Office on 01603 406767 to secure your place.

supported by our National Organiser Natalie Punter and Ashley Shacklady from Marketing Cheshire. In March 2017 a small group met in Chester to look at possible venues. The Crowne Plaza had the most spacious room available but we all loved the Queen Hotel for its quirkiness. And so it was decided to have the Friday night dinner and half-day Sunday conference at the Queen Hotel, and the main Saturday conference at the Crowne Plaza. Emails were sent to local groups and 14 women turned up at the first committee meeting in May, while eight sent apologies. Jobs were identified, and volunteers took them on. Much discussion ensued on appropriate speakers, activities and entertainment. By July we had made good progress and the committee was settling into a more manageable size, with many offers of help. The Chester Conference Facebook page was growing in popularity, a great tool for spreading information and gathering feedback. The format and timing of the whole weekend started to take shape. There was a small hiccup when we discovered that there would be a race meeting on our original date of June 16th, despite assurances to the contrary from Chester Racecourse. Fortunately, everything and everyone could move on a week. At the end of August, we had the not unenjoyable task of taste testing the menu that the Queen Hotel proposed

for our Friday dinner. We were adamant it was going to be in a different league entirely from the Lincoln dinner! The decision was made to make sure there was plenty of time for discussions after the speakers. A wide range of workshops were being planned. Our committee slimmed down to twelve. By October we were busy finalising speakers and activities, hoping to take our first booking on November 1st, then the online booking system hit a snag. But at least we were organised in good time. We could now take a closer look at publicity and sponsorship, and local information. A meet and greet coordinator was in place. We could relax over Christmas! It was late January by the time the booking system went live and, communication problems notwithstanding, bookings started to roll in. Now we needed to look at the nitty gritty of balancing the budget, and putting together information for delegates. Publicity was also needed, so our national publicity officer SJ attended our meeting as well as local PR. Sponsorship was discussed as we had had no success here, in spite of over 40 approaches having been made. Feedback from Lincoln was taken on board. To maintain our good progress, we agreed to meet monthly from now on. We look forward to June when we hope delegates will enjoy a splendid few days in the lovely city of Chester!

GDPR: What is it and why should I care? GDPR is the new General Data Protection Regulation which comes into legal use in May 2018. GDPR is quite a significant change to the way companies are legally allowed to use and keep personal data, and it will affect all of us in one way or another. As a membership organisation it will affect NWR quite significantly. Ultimately, GDPR will put the control of personal data back into the hands of the individual, introducing and enhancing many rights including access to your personal data and the “right to be forgotten”. It means that organisations must prove that they have good reason to collect and use data and must prove that they are doing all they can to protect the data once they hold it. The main points of which you need to be aware are: ■■

Legal basis for processing — the justification which a business has for collecting and using your data. They are: Consent, Contract, Legal Obligation, Vital Interests, Public Task, Legitimate Interests, Special Category Data and Criminal Offence Data;


NWR will mainly be using the contract and legitimate interests justifications as most data we use is from members and processing of personal data is necessary to fulfil our membership ‘contract’ (Note that this does not have to be a legal contract as such)


If the legal basis is consent this must be Explicit – this means that we cannot assume consent. For instance companies must now ask for consent boxes to be ticked rather than assuming that unticked non-consent boxes equals consent;


Right to be Forgotten — this is the phrase which the legislation uses, and it means that people have the right for their personal data not to be kept beyond a reasonable time, and have the right to ask for all data held about them to be destroyed;


The legislation includes existing data, such as archives;

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 11


This will mean that LOs and AOs, past and present, will need to destroy and/ or manage all personal data which they hold about NWR members (in relation to NWR).

Privacy Notice NWR has developed a new privacy notice which will be made available to all members. This sets out all of our policies and procedures regarding how we will manage personal data under the new regulations.

What do I need to do?

April Love, Arthur Hughes

As NWR is a national charity all activities undertaken by its members are the responsibility of the charity. The fines for non-compliance with GDPR are up to £20 million. This means that we need all members to be compliant with GDPR. All personal information held for the business of NWR — for example addresses collected while you were AO or LO — will need to be managed in line with our GDPR policies. ■■

Please review group resources to ensure that personal details of members who have left NWR are not kept for any longer than six years; If you have been an AO, LO or had access to personal data while organising anything for NWR, then please make sure that it is not kept for longer than six years after the event or your use of the data;


If you don’t need to keep personal data then please don’t. It is not necessary to keep everything for six years, that is the GDPR limit and is also generally the limit for information which the charity could need for audit purposes;


Obviously, people create friendships through their time at NWR and exchange personal details which is great and, thankfully, outside the remit of GDPR!


We will be asking new enquirers to give us explicit consent to use their details to keep in touch regarding NWR. LOs and AOs should have received a new consent form to use for people who have attended an event or come along to a meeting. It was also in our February Newsletter;


If you need guidance or advice relating to this please do contact the office, and thank you all for your diligence Convent Thoughts, and support.

Portrait of the Young Saskia, Rembrant van Rijn

Charles Allston Collins

NWR Magazine Spring 2018

The Son of Man, René Magritte

A Full House, Beryl Cook



Portrait of Madame X, Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol John Singer Sargent

The Morning Ride, Sir Alfred Munnings

Aristide Bruant, at His Cabaret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, Edgar Degas


Sweet calendar girls

observing and recreating just the right pose, and persuading recalcitrant tutus into just the right positions. Long undisturbed cupboards were After admiring Deepings Branch’s reincarnation of Renoir’s delved into. “I’ve got a skirt/top/ Luncheon of the Boating Party in 2014, Sue Cooke of Alrewas jacket that looks just like that one in the painting!” Size was a minor detail: NWR was inspired to create a further homage to famous one very slim member displayed a fine painters in the form of a calendar. Much fun and a fair bit of rear view of her underwear when a skirt helpless laughter ensued, but she little thought that it would wouldn’t fasten. be 2018 before the final result graced members’ walls! Work didn’t end with the taking of the photos. Images needed manipulating Sue’s first task was to promote her idea Woman in Hat turned to delight on in Photoshop to insert faces into seeing the final result, and she drove and recruit volunteers. Some were backgrounds, create a smudged look for home through the village with her face keen from the start, others needed to the Degas, replace the gloomy Autumn still painted. Hesitancy to bare all for see what was going on before giving hedge of Munnings’ Morning Ride with Degas’ After the Bath was overcome by it a try. With only 12 months in a year, a bright copse, and to sharpen Warhol’s a body stocking. the resulting 17 portraits presented a Marilyns into pop art. Hidden talents were unearthed: face challenge of a different kind. And who was there throughout? painting, hairdressing, dressmaking, Next came the choice of paintings. In the words of Kathryn Buckman, “I millinery, painting — the Klimt dress Most were single figure portraits, and would like to emphasise just how much had to be sufficiently iconic to allow the and the Mona Lisa background were time and effort was involved for Sue. expertly recreated in watercolour — and, “not so young” cast to stand in for the She had some cajoling to do at times original model, whilst also ensuring that finally, prop creation. Who would guess but, as she says, some amazing talents that Queen Elizabeth’s orb was a toilet the candidates were reasonably happy emerged amongst our members. It with “their” painting. Whistler’s Mother, cistern ballcock encased in opaque was the sort of exercise that brought black tights, or that there was no back for instance, had no takers. In other members together and greatly to the dress: it was tied on like an cases some persuasion was necessary. consolidated the group feeling.” apron. Talents were also discovered for But the initial reluctance of Picasso’s

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, Gustav Klimt

Two Ballet Dancers, Edgar Degas

Queen Elizabeth I, unknown English artist

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer

The Penitent Magdalen, Georges de La Tour

Head of a Woman in a Hat, Pablo Picasso

Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 13


The Big Reviews Women in Film was the theme for 2017’s Big Read, put together by the NWR Bookworms Facebook group. Here are some of your thoughts and opinions.

Room Emma Donohue Wantage NWR agreed that the film was not as good as the book, lacking its depth. One member was annoyed by the voice of the boy, thus highlighting how reading a book first can make a hard act for the film to follow! We agreed how well Room expresses the horrendous situation of the woman, Ma: being trapped with her boy, Jack, over 5 years affects her mental health, and she is desperately driven to carry out her plan for their escape. We were interested in how Ma continued to breastfeed Jack and that, on his recovery from illness, he wanted to feed again. This linked in with the familiarity of Room to him, parts of which — Wardrobe for instance — he had named, as if creating characters in his life. Emma Donohue’s inspiration for her novel, a true Austrian case involving five-year-old Felix, provoked further discussion. Wantage NWR

All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr This nail-biting story describes how Marie-Laure, a blind girl living in Paris whose father works in the Museum of Natural History, learns how to navigate her neighbourhood through the ingenious models of the surrounding streets which her father has made for her. This proves to be a life-saving skill, particularly when her father is arrested and she has to get out and about on her own. When the Nazis invade Paris Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo, where her eccentric great-uncle lives, carrying with them one of the museum’s most precious and dangerous jewels. In Germany, a young boy and his sister discover a simple radio set which Werner takes apart to learn how it works. His skill in understanding new machines involves him in tracking down the Resistance, and brings him into contact with Marie-Laure. Told with great skill and understatement, the author shows how kindness can shine through the worst circumstances, and how belief in oneself is a very powerful quality. This book remained with me long after I had finished it. Jo Thomson, Leighton Buzzard 14

NWR Magazine Spring 2018

Persuasion Jane Austen Neither book nor film seemed to have been particularly enjoyed. The book, it was thought, paled by comparison to other Austen novels such as Pride and Prejudice: the early black and white film having been loved by a member and her daughters, as an introduction for them. One of our group said that, although she could not get into Persuasion, she had enjoyed reading the Austen narrative. The different time in which Persuasion was set — it was published in 1817 — produced lively interest in the place of women in the hierarchy of English society: “Girls were to be bartered over!” Austen’s descriptions of Bath and Lyme Regis were enjoyed. However, it was interesting to be reminded of Bath’s slavery roots, and that many people inherited slaves. Wantage NWR

The Light Between Oceans M L Stedman Stedman’s tale begins in April 1926 and is set off the coast of South West Australia. Tom Sherbourne returns from the horrors of the trenches in France. He is a reluctant hero, desperately searching for some kind of peace and tranquillity after his gruesome ordeal. He joins the lighthouse service, and sees the opportunity for solitude and loneliness that his soul craves – the job of full-time keeper on Janus Rock. While waiting in the port of Partageuse for transport to the island, Tom meets Isobel, daughter of the town’s headmaster. The couple are strongly attracted, and write increasingly affectionate letters to each other. They marry during Tom’s shore leave and an enthusiastic Isobel insists on embarking on a new life on Janus Rock with her husband. She loves the wild beauty of the place and the couple are idyllically happy there, especially when she becomes pregnant. She loses the baby. Grief and despair follow… until the April morning when a boat washes ashore. Inside is the body of a dead man – and a desperate, crying baby. Tom tells her he must report the matter at once. But she begs him not to, and Tom can see that nursing the tiny baby is washing away his wife’s grief. He follows his heart and they keep the baby, but at what terrible price? The story sparked a range of emotions amongst our group. Stedman’s scenario made us question our own ethics and posed a moral dilemma which provoked robust exchanges. Some people sided with one character and gave firm reasons for their opinion. Others empathised with both characters, feeling for their inner conflict and turmoil. We felt that the loneliness and isolation created by the lighthouse created a rarefied and almost surreal environment from which the strange and frankly unlikely events of the story could unfold.

ARTS We felt there was an inevitability around the dismantling of this state of unrealistic paradise and the poignant events which followed. We all agreed that the book was a pageturner, the characters well-drawn and the storyline intense and gripping. We had a thought-provoking debate over the extent and attribution of responsibility for the tragic outcome of the story. Barbara Stoddart, Wolstanton Group

Dr Zhivago Boris Pasternak Wantage NWR seemed to be more familiar with the film, with its beautiful music and scenery, than the book of Dr Zhivago. Both film and book were thought to mirror Boris Pasternak’s life. In the story, the medic and poet’s life changes as a result of both the Russian revolution and his great love of Lara, the wife of a revolutionary. The selfsacrificing image of Zhivago’s wife, waiting, cold and keeping her coat on until he came home, was commented on. One of our members recommended a film shown on BBC 4 in November 2017: The Real Dr Zhivago. He, Pasternak, loved Russia but hated Stalin’s régime. It took him twenty years to write the book, knowing he could be killed. During the revolution he received some protection, but his mistress was sent to the Gulag twice. His novel was banned in the USSR and had to be smuggled out to the West to be published. Although rejected by Stalin, many copies of Dr Zhivago were distributed into Russia, only to be destroyed when found by the régime.

Regarding Ruth and Idgie, did the God-fearing community of Whistle Stop think that they were just very good friends living together (as happened often here in the past) or did they just accept a lesbian couple living happily in their midst? Idgie was a very significant player in the story and her actions were memorable, for instance, when he was feeling downhearted, taking the one-armed young Stump to see how agile a three-legged dog could be. The character of Ruth, however, lacked substance particularly compared with minor characters like Smokey Lonesome, Stump and Artis who enabled the reader to learn about life in Slagtown, a run-down part of the city of Birmingham, Alabama, as seen through their eyes. The relationships between the black characters were well developed although the language used to explore their lives and treatment could shock. Another well-developed relationship was that between Evelyn Couch and Ninny Threadgoode. The majority of the story is gleaned from Mrs Threadgoode’s reminiscences as told to Evelyn in a nursing home, where Evelyn is supposed to be visiting her mother-in-law. It was amusing and heartening to see her develop, nurtured by Ninny’s wisdom, and defeat her demons, the menopause and Towanda. She becomes a much happier, stronger woman. The device of interspersing the narrative with cuttings from the Weems Weekly was mainly enjoyed and served to reinforce the narrative. Overall then, a majority of members present declared it an interesting and enjoyable read which provoked a lively discussion. Eastbourne NWR

Me Before You Jojo Moyes

Wantage NWR

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Fannie Flagg This story concerns the lives of the inhabitants of a small community by the railroad in Alabama, from the First World War to the 1960s, as told by an 86-yearold woman in 1986. Although the book is sentimental it is also an atmospheric, humorous and moving piece of history. It took time to become involved in the story and the characters, not least because there were so many people to follow and the structure jumped back and forth in time which some found distracting. However, the stories gradually evolved and were worth following. The characters meld to form a whole community and its histories, an interesting way to create a narrative. The main themes were treated quite simplistically, especially the relationships between the black and the white communities. There was a great deal of compassion shown by Idgie, who ran the cafe, towards the hobos, at odds with their usual place in society.

This could be described as chick lit, but at the same time it is a very powerful story about two people with very different perspectives on life. A highly successful and well-travelled businessman, Will Traynor, suffers a life-changing accident while skiing and seeks someone to provide him with full time care. Louise Clark steps into the breach, a simple straightforward girl who has never travelled very far from home and whose experience of the world is limited. At first she finds him offensive and feels that she cannot continue to work for him, whilst he is dismissive of her ignorance of the wider world. Gradually as they get to know one another better the reality of Will’s plans dawns on Louisa and she tries with all her might to change his mind. One cannot help but be drawn into this heart-breaking situation and take sides as to the eventual solution. It is one of those books which is almost impossible to put down because you desperately want to know and yet don’t want to know how it will turn out. A fascinating tale with a number of very serious issues to consider. Jo Thomson, Leighton Buzzard

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 15


Oh yes I can!

Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn Donald Spoto One of our group thought this a sad book in many ways, but a good one. Looking for Audrey, the televised film presented by Darcey Bussell, was enjoyed by those who saw it, and thought very good for character interest. It was agreed that Audrey Hepburn’s mother had been a driving force in her development. However, in her personal life, Audrey generally lacked confidence. Her early experiences had led to vulnerability: her father deserted the family when Audrey was five, which meant she was cut off from contact with him and neither he, nor her mother, gave her the emotional warmth she needed. Later, as an adult, Audrey attempted to be reunited with her father twice. With the outbreak of the Second World War, aged ten, she and her mother moved from London to Holland, where they suffered poverty and were hungry to the point of eating tulip bulbs. In her relationships, Audrey retained her reserve while developing a healthy sexual appetite, and attracting older men. Her first husband, Mel Ferrer, gave her emotional support, although he dominated and organised her life, including creating a particular perfume for her. It appears to have been her affair with Albert Finney that led to their separation. She also had several affairs with younger women. Her relationship with Robert Wolders, whom she loved, lasted until her death in Switzerland in 1993. Audrey was an extremely ambitious and highly successful actress, who immersed herself in memorable roles. Who can forget her in My Fair Lady, in black and white? Her voice, too, was memorable, as in Moon River. She was also a great influence in matters of fashion and beauty, and used her position to work for humanitarian causes. Wantage NWR 16

NWR Magazine Spring 2018

I smiled and nodded in an “Okay, if that’s what you’d like me to do, I’m easy, I’ll give it a go” sort of way. Inside I was setting off fireworks, singing the Hallelujah Chorus, doing parkour round the room. I never thought this would happen, never, never!!! I’d applied after giving myself a firm talking to. I never thought I’d get it: but if I didn’t apply, I’d definitely never get it. Other people, I told myself, aren’t mind readers. If nobody even knows you’re interested, they’re never going to consider you for the position. All good sound common sense — but oh dear, how hard it is to step out of the safe background, to set yourself up to be rejected, to have other people think what a conceited ninny you are to overestimate your abilities. Maybe I overdid the casual. Tessa looked at me doubtfully. “Is that all right with you? Are you okay to do that?” “Yes — yes, thank you, I’d love to,” I babbled. It might not seem much to most people, but I tell you, when you’ve been back row of the chorus in your local community pantomime for twenty years, being Mother Bear is a huge breakthrough. And I was much encouraged by how convincingly I’d been able to feign nonchalance. Maybe my acting skills were better than I’d thought, and I’d be able to deliver ‘Who’s been eating my porridge?’ with a dramatic power worthy of the Old Vic. Anne Wray, Hadleigh/Southend-on-Sea NWR

Happy Times I smiled and remembered Brigitte Bardot! I remember, I remember, the end of the 1950s, Provence… St Tropez… staying with my French penfriend Monique and her parents, in a classy holiday camp. Hearing French spoken in London brings these happy visions of tangled yellow haired Brigitte Bardot look-alikes in skimpy bikinis at the edge of the sea, skimmed by the droplets of the gentle waves. Like the film And God Created Woman, the Jean-Louis Trintignant look-alikes in white vests gently caressed their blond girlfriends’ necks with a sea-bathed foot. We saw this film with the elusive BB running through fields or carried in the strong arms of Jean-Louis to be kissed under the branch of a tree in the countryside, or pursued as she rode a bicycle through a cobbled village. Monique’s family would take us from their home in Paris to Provence. I vaguely remember a funny incident at a hotel we stayed in on our journey. It amused Monique’s parents to inveigle me into a more cosmopolitan lifestyle than I was used to. With each section of the meal, a different wine or spirit was produced for my delectation. Monique’s parents smiled to see me surrounded by the glasses from which I could only manage a small sip! On another occasion on our journey, we stopped at a country village at eventide. Monique took me up a small hillside covered with mauve crocuses, like twittering ballerinas in the light breeze, and above us came waltz-like peals from the small white stone and brown wooded church in the glow of the setting sun. On arrival at our destination, early in the evening, Monique and I were greeted by a lanky young man reminiscent of the suave Patrick Macnee from the Avengers, in a black bowler, rolled umbrella, and black suit. I was suitably impressed with his nonchalant sophistication! I so remember also the evocative sounds of those cicadas: The Chant des Cigales en Provence. And the crowning glory of one of our trips was Monaco with the shimmering blue sea overlooked by the buds of yellow mimosa on the cliffs above. In my naïve dreams of those far away days I wondered if Prince Ranier and his lovely bride, Grace Kelly, would suddenly appear out of a fairytale castle. Those early teenage experiences were some of the happiest times of my life. Rosemary Wolfson, Kenton NWR


I smiled and... Funny, poignant, thoughtful: enjoy the wonderful results of our latest creative writing challenge

Bizarre Bazaars I smiled and remembered a child Who waltzed, whirled wild Searched for a four-leaf clover Bounced balls under and over Blew dandelions in the breeze Swung and tumbled with ease Unafraid to dare Happy without care In the dirt began Bizarre Bazaars Bent cans and cracked jars Rusty nails, hooks and knobs Displayed on old table tops When squalid poverty whiffed Turned up noses sniffed The first Bizarre Bazaar offended Trading suspended

Let’s smile!

Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

I smiled and the world immediately seemed brighter. Wow, how powerful an effect on how I think. It’s infectious — I enjoy trying it out on the occasional stranger, hopefully selecting situations where it won’t be automatically assumed that I’m a bit weird! It’s fascinating how a smile changes the faces who smile back. A sullen disinterested face becomes alive, eyes start to sparkle as interest becomes awakened. When we smile it feels a little like an adventure — starting a quest for more happy times to add to the memory bank of those times that have gone before. Sometimes the happiest times in our lives are not the big groundbreaking events but simple everyday moments when we feel totally at peace with the world and supremely happy with our lot. That shared glance with a loved one, whether a child, family member or friend. That look that says “Isn’t this grand, isn’t life wonderful?” Other times we can be completely alone and just feel the flood of happiness. What triggers it? It will be different for each of us. For me, it’s usually family oriented. I’ve been having a rest alone and heard the voices of my adult children in another room — that feeling of happiness is a joy — such a simple thing but evidence that it can be the simple things that can “start the ball rolling”. Happiness can catch us when we least expect it. The realization that a problem is solved, a task has been completed, a sense of relief with something more, a feeling of joy that we are alive and experiencing pleasure. So, in that vein, it makes sense to me to spread the positivity with a smile if possible. A child’s smile can lift the spirits of a crowd of weary commuters — young children are still learning social norms and spread their happiness freely, uninhibited by adult expectations. Adult expectation? Do we expect to be happy? It does help in our quest for happiness if we do expect it to be part of our lives and can get pleasure from the positives in our lives. Sadly, life has ups and downs and it’s during the downs that we can find it hard to have that expectation that happiness will embrace us again. A smile can be a little kindness and a little kindness goes a long way. As the song goes, “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you”. Let’s smile!

Clear off! Know your place Met with an insolent face Instinct not learned in schools Recognised life’s fools Fast forward three decades Past fools queue in shopping arcades Must have recycled tins and jars Sold only in Bizarre Bazaars Musing, swinging in a hammock Eyeing a view panoramic A waiter tray in hand My wish is his command Young, handsome from France ‘Will you dance?’ Waltzing, whirling wild I smile and remember a child Robina Fisher, Giffnock NWR

Marie O’Flaherty, Wisbech NWR

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 17


A little cheesy pineapple one? Crosby NWR enjoyed a very successful evening on the theme “Dining with…”. Members chose an era and described a dinner party — the social scene, mores and manners and, of course, the food. This account is from a time many of us will remember. Dear Friends at National Housewives Register, Nigel and I will be giving a dinner party on Saturday evening. You are all invited. Please bring a bottle. We want everyone to have a great time, so to keep things simple we suggest you bring either Bulls Blood or Blue Nun. Mateus Rosé is also acceptable if you prefer pink. Arrive about seven thirty and park your cars as near as you can, because in the past some people have had difficulty finding their car to drive home, our party has been so lively! In fact, one previous guest was taken in by the police and breathalyzed, but he managed to walk the white line so they sent him home after a couple of hours. But let’s not be put off by that. Of course, you may find you have misplaced your car keys following an after dinner game of Keys in the Middle — only joking, naturally, but you never know your luck. Dress code — well the usual. This won’t be fancy dress, there were too many Abba lookalikes at the last one! The ladies will probably wish to wear a long dress or skirt and the guys their latest flares and flowery shirt with tank top. Before we get down to eating, we’ll have an aperitif: a Babycham or Cherry B usually breaks the ice and I’ve prepared one of those hedgehoggy things with cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks. You may want to chat to old friends for a while, and to meet our new neighbours. Kevin’s a rep and has quite a lifestyle, covering the North of England in his Ford Cortina, a wife in every port or so they say, and Cheryl was a nurse and you know what they are like. Should be fun! You may wish to know in advance what I will be serving at dinner. It will be quite a trendy collection. We will start with prawn cocktail, which seems to be everyone’s fave starter, so nothing too controversial there. Then for the main course I think it will be Beef Stroganoff. All the magazines are raving about it and as you know, I’m a convert on the subject of foreign foods. I’ve started using herbs and spices, even garlic and, really, they do make a difference. If you haven’t tried them, you should. Has anyone heard of soured cream? It doesn’t sound very nice, but it is essential to this dish and I’m sure you will agree the Russians have something here! I am dithering a little though as I received a fondue set for Christmas and I’m so excited to use it soon. You just have to chop up some pork or chicken and each guest cooks it for themselves by holding it on a fork in some oil which is kept hot by a cute little burner. Don’t worry, it’s fun. Also, it’s a great talking point and, you know, now that we have discovered the fondue, I think it’s with us to stay. Certainly not something I will be parting with in a hurry. So, if I don’t bring it out on Saturday, you will surely see it in the near future. Don’t forget: you heard it here first. Well, now onto everyone’s favourite course — the dessert! Following our last dinner party, several of you begged me for my lemon cheesecake recipe so, by popular request, I’m doing it again. I will have to remember to put Carnation 18

NWR Magazine Spring 2018


transport minister Barbara Castle introduced the roadside breathalyser.


Photo by Simone van der Koelen on Unsplash

Contraception became free on the NHS, and available to all women regardless of their marital status.


A woman’s average hourly pay was five shillings, while a man’s was over nine. It wasn’t until 1975 that the Equal Pay Act finally came into effect, ruling that men and women should get the same wage for the same jobs.


48 per cent of all households in Britain did not have the regular use of a car. By 2008 that figure had fallen to 22 per cent. Photo by Pedro Pereira on Unsplash


Until the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, if a woman wanted to open a bank account or apply for a loan, she usually had to answer personal questions about her marital status and plans for a family, as women were thought to be high credit risks. She was also likely to be refused a mortgage in her own right without the signature of a male guarantor.

National Archives of Malawi

1 May 1975


milk and digestive biscuits on my list for Fine Fare this week. But I’m giving you a choice, you lucky people, so there will also be Black Forest Gâteau. I had some after my chicken in a basket at the Berni Inn last week, but I guarantee you my homemade version will surpass that one. We will finish the meal with coffee made in my new electric percolator with After Eight Mints and, really and truly, I don’t want you to help with the washing up, because Nigel has bought me an electric dishwasher. He says it’s to save my hands from being ruined by the washing up piled up for Sunday morning. He would help, but he’s playing golf, unless he is hung over, in which case he will stay in bed and I will just have to try to keep the kids quiet for a bit. So that’s why I’m thrilled to have the dishwasher. Put one on your Christmas list, you won’t regret it. While the meal is settling we have a real treat in store for you all. We have been taking package holidays in Tenerife for the last couple of years and I’m sure if you haven’t managed to go abroad yourself yet you will really enjoy looking at our holiday photos. Nigel bought himself a projector and he has hundreds of slides, but we’ll try to cut them down a bit, because for the rest of the evening we plan to roll up the carpet — metaphorically speaking, of course, as you can’t roll up our deep, shag pile, fitted one — and rave along to some music on the hi-fi. Nigel has spent ages making a compilation tape, so I hope you’ll get in the groove. Just to whet your appetite, he’s got Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive, Abba’s Dancing Queen and Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, to name but three. Well, until Saturday — looking forward to seeing you then. Love, Sharon

Ann Haynes All of us at Derby NWR were deeply saddened by the death of Ann Haynes on 10th November, aged 78 years. She was a founder member of our group in 1967 and an enthusiastic contributor to our meetings, always expressing her valued opinions. With incredible fortitude she lived with multiple sclerosis for over 30 years, with no hint of self-pity or complaint. In recent years it was inevitably a struggle to get to our meetings but she carried on until it was impossible to do so. Even then she still kept in close touch with us and showed a keen interest in our programme and activities. An extremely brave and courageous lady, she will be very sadly missed by all of us.

Dorothy Harrison Dorothy was a valued and long-standing member and friend of the Prenton & Bebbington group.


Just 15% of households owned a freezer, compared with 94% in 2000. In the same period consumption of canned vegetables dropped by a third, and sales of “ready meals and convenience meat products” went up fivefold.

Sources: National Food Survey, DEFRA and Social Trends 40, ONS.

Wendy Fairbank, Crosby NWR

In Memoriam


UK residents made 6.7 million holiday trips abroad. By 2008 that figure was 45.5 million.

Dr Elspeth Hepburn Beith Group was saddened to learn of the death of former member Dr Elspeth Hepburn. Elspeth was a founder member of our group, and an enthusiastic and very active participant. She was community paediatrician for the Garnock Valley, and a familiar face to all young mothers. Indeed, many a lonely young woman new to the area was referred to NHR, as it was then, by Elspeth. On retirement she and her husband moved to Guildford, where we believe she maintained her NWR contact.

Freda Lambert Members of the Worcester Park NWR were deeply saddened by the sudden death of Freda Lambert in December. Freda had been a valued member of our group for many years and will be greatly missed. On discussion nights she took great trouble to research a subject thoroughly, and her input was always interesting and informative. She was very involved in the local community, having volunteered at Kingston Hospital for many years and also been an active member of English at Home, assisting

people who had arrived in this country and needed support. Our last memories of Freda are very happy ones, she had attended a recent NWR meeting as well as attending an amateur production in which one of our members was appearing.

Mary Richards Mary Richards, who was a member of the NWR National Group committee from 1988 to 1992, and of her local Worksop group for many years, died on Christmas Day 2017. She was dedicated to our organisation and a very hard-working and efficient member of our National Group. We found her to be a lovely, loyal friend whom we have seen regularly since our time on the National Committee nearly thirty years ago. She was a scientist, teacher, loving wife and proud mother of two sons. She was full of life, held strong and astute views on how the world ticks, was very caring and a fun person to be with. It goes without saying that those of us who remain of the aforesaid group will miss her greatly.

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 19

Members’ Corner 40 years of fun for Amersham South member In 1977 a friend introduced Marion Evans to Amersham South NWR at their AGM. She joined and has been a member ever since. Marion has seen the organisation change from NHR to NWR, and has been Local Organiser and Programme Planner many times, creating varied programmes of activities, speakers and trips. She has contributed to meetings over the years and given demonstrations of her crafting experience. A great addition to our Christmas party is the quiz she prepares each year. Marion says that by joining NWR she has made long term friendships and gained confidence along the way. She has always been an excellent member and an asset to the group. “I have had a great deal of fun and learned many things from being so involved with my beloved ‘housewives’ group.” Amersham South group presented her with 40 red carnations and cards at a summer garden party with cream tea, champagne and strawberries.

A novel discussion At a recent Thursday morning meeting Winchester NWR were delighted to have a talk by a local author, Claire Fuller, who gave a comprehensive insight into the world of writing and publishing. Claire started writing at the age of 40 after completing a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester. Previously she had studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art, and had worked in marketing. She began by writing short stories, eventually winning a local competition. Encouraged by this she embarked on her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2015. Our book group found this an excellent read which stimulated a wide-ranging discussion. This was followed by Swimming Lessons in 2017, and her third novel Bitter Orange will be published in early 2019. Claire described her disciplined approach to writing and confessed that she finds it a difficult process, requiring real motivation. She spoke about the long and competitive process of publishing. The first step is to find a good agent, which can be challenging as they may receive up to 6,000 books a year. It


NWR Magazine Spring 2018

then becomes their job to secure a publisher and negotiate a deal. Claire felt very fortunate that this had gone smoothly and her books are now published in several languages. Unsurprisingly she is an avid reader herself and a keen supporter of libraries. Her favourite authors include Barbara Pym, Margaret Atwood, David Van and Shirley Jackson as well as recommendations from Claire’s relaxed and engaging style encouraged participation by the group and resulted in a thought-provoking morning of lively discussion.

Gunpowder, treason and … plasticine?

Amersham South NWR held a seasonal meeting in November on the theme of Bonfire Night by Plasticine. The choice of theme was obvious not only due to the time of year, but also because the BBC was showing a series called Gunpowder, generally considered to have been rather gruesome — a definite understatement in our opinion! The topicality of plasticine may be less obvious. It was invented in Bath by art teacher William Harbutt in 1897, making 2017 its 120th anniversary. Harbutt wanted a malleable clay that his sculpture students could use without it drying out on exposure to air. Originally made in grey, he introduced a choice of four colours when he produced it commercially in 1900. Non-toxic, sterile and soft it became the ideal children’s modelling toy that many of us remember from our childhoods. Its use more recently in animated films such as Wallace and Gromit has brought it even greater fame. We learnt about other surprising uses for plasticine at our meeting, such as in long jump competitions and bomb disposal, but our main activity was the practical session: to create objects inspired by Bonfire Night. Much fiddly fun was had by all, but if your group decides to have a plasticine meeting — remember, remember the wipe-clean table covering! Otherwise it might be your hostess who is exploding…


Ain’t no mountain high enough Some men put their wives on a pedestal, but Hitchin NWR’s Celia Watson and her husband Stuart found themselves spending their 40th wedding anniversary on the top of a mountain.

When they met in 1974 they were both in different venture scout units and had already developed a love of the great outdoors. They have been all over the world and conquered Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, the Eiger, Kilimanjaro and North Col on Everest. They have climbed and trekked in the Canadian Rockies, the Southern Alps in New Zealand, the Andes in South America and many places in North America, including Yosemite. For more than 10 years they have been travelling to Scotland around three times a year to climb a Munro — a peak in Scotland which is over 3,000ft. They are named after Hugh Munro who, by 1891, had surveyed and listed all such mountains. Celia and Stuart achieved their first Munro in 1994 with their two children Shelley and Chris, then aged nine and 11. “There are 282 Munros and they are spread all over the Scottish highlands. Some are very remote and access to them is difficult. We have often walked all day without seeing anyone. It has required a great deal of effort and determination to complete them all but we have loved every minute. We are now Munro Compleaters and will be entered on the Munro register. After our first we did about five more mainly by rock climbing routes then, in 2006, we decided to try and climb them all. We did our penultimate Munro, Ben More on the Isle of Mull, on 20th August this year.” For their final Munro on Saturday 27th August, Stuart, 59, wore a Buchanan tartan kilt in honour of his Scottish paternal family, and Celia, 60, wore a Buchanan scarf. They were accompanied on this climb by relatives, including their daughter Shelley and her fiancé Rob. Unfortunately, Chris

was away on business. Amongst the 18 friends who achieved the climb were two other members of the Hitchin Branch, one still recovering from shingles and the other with a recent knee injury. “The journey has taken us all over the Highlands of Scotland, so we have seen the most spectacular and stunning scenery. We have walked in almost every type of weather — our favourite walks have been in snow conditions when the skies are clear. We will still be coming back to Scotland to climb and walk. “I volunteer at the Lake District Calvert Trust, an outward bound organisation that provides challenging outdoor adventures for anyone with a disability. Rob also works there as an instructor. I decided to raise money for them by asking people to sponsor us for our last Munro. They are a charity and would not be able to operate without donations.” The family’s final climb has raised almost £2,000, smashing the original fundraising target of £500. If you would like to donate to their fundraising, go to Top left: Stuart and Celia on Ben More, on their 40th wedding anniversary Below: Stuart and Celia atop their final Munro, Ben Lomond, with family and friends

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 21


Our woman in Havana Why visit Cuba? For its history? Its music? Its vintage American and Russian cars? Its sixteenth century Spanish colonial architecture? Its beautiful beaches and scenery? Because of Hemingway and Graham Greene? To find out what it is like to be a citizen of Cuba today? For my husband and me it was for all of those reasons, but primarily the last one. Our trip did not disappoint. Travelling on our own, near the end of 2014, we chatted to taxi drivers, guides and hustlers and saw Cuba from many points of view. It was just a few weeks before President Obama declared that he thought the time had come to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, with a possible view to relaxing the trade embargo which had been in place for over fifty years. Before we went, we wanted to know something of the historical background. In brief, Cuba’s wealth came primarily from the establishment of sugar plantations, worked by slaves. America, having driven out the Spanish, became the dominant power in 1898, backing a series of puppet Cuban presidents. The last of these was Fulgencio Batista, who colluded with organised crime to promote tourism and his own interests. Meanwhile the quality of life of ordinary Cubans deteriorated. In 1956 Fidel Castro, with the support of, amongst others, his brother Raul and the charismatic Argentinian Ernesto “Che” Guevara, persuaded many thousands of Cubans to fight with them against the régime. Havana was finally liberated in 1959. Batista had fled, taking with him some $300 million in gold. Fidel Castro, “El Comandante”, promptly authorised the seizure of large amounts of US owned assets and property. The US government retaliated with a trade embargo and an unsuccessful CIA led invasion, known as The Bay of Pigs. Castro then adopted Marxist/Leninist policies and asked Russia for help. This led to the infamous and chilling Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which many readers will remember. The enduring Russian influence was obvious from the moment we left Havana airport, where we were picked up


NWR Magazine Spring 2018

by a vast Russian limousine, “as used by Fidel Castro in the Eighties”, our taxi driver proudly informed us. The beat-up taxi in which we were to travel to Trinidad on the south coast the following morning was quite a contrast. Why take a taxi? No public transport. Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and is one of the most perfectly preserved of the Spanish colonial towns. In the 16th and 17th centuries it became an important centre for slave trading, and in the 18th century, sugar cane. The wealth explains the wonderful buildings. In the 20th century it lost status. Our little old taxi bumped over cobbled streets past houses painted blue or mustard with their shutters and architectural features picked out in white. There were also magnificent, white-painted old mansions around tiled courtyards. Our driver was unable to reach our hotel, as the street had a barrier across it. He promptly decided that that was enough, took our cases out of the boot and drove off! We need not have worried. “Meson del Rigidor?” A local entrepreneur, whom we came to know as Rafael, already had my case on his hefty shoulder and was striding away from us. We trotted behind, assuring him that we would definitely use his taxi should we need one. The small hotel was a delight. Just four rooms with a restaurant downstairs, serving simple but palatable food. Lunch introduced us to another reason for coming to Cuba — music! Whenever you sat down to eat, you would be entertained by musicians and singers. In the evening we found more music at La Casa de la Trova, where Cubans and tourists meet and mingle to play and listen, and to dance the salsa. I’m sorry, but no one on Strictly Come Dancing can hold a candle to some of the people we saw dancing. The next day we were collected by the first of the guides we had booked, Yo. He was determined that we should look beyond the façade of the beautiful world heritage site. We

He had resorted to selling illicit rum to get himself through university saw the locals queueing to get their monthly ration books, we saw their subsidised shops and streets where commerce is conducted in the local currency, not that used by tourists. He told us that most people resort to the black market by the end of the month as their rations do not last. On the plus side, health care and education were very good, for everyone. Things were opening up. Many houses were allowed to offer

bed and breakfast to encourage tourism, and some had started small restaurants. Yo definitely had the entrepreneurial spirit and had resorted to selling illicit rum to get himself through university. He then went into teaching, but changed his mind. However, if you left teaching, you could not take another job for two years. His solution was to go into business with a friend in Havana, illegally accessing the internet. He was now making an honest living in tourism! His father, a convinced communist, disapproved of his entrepreneurial side. We were so close to the coast, we had to spend one afternoon on the beach, so after our guided walk and lunch, we left the hotel to look for a taxi. “Hello! You want taxi? Rafael! I find you taxi.” Our genial saviour of the previous day had been looking out for us. We knew he was asking an outrageous amount for the trip, but we allowed ourselves to be bundled into a taxi driven by a young friend of his. The cracked windscreen, sagging springs and rusting paintwork somehow all added to the sense of adventure. Most cars are nothing like the gleaming American vintage models one sees in photos. They are held together with whatever their owners can find — very visible evidence of the trade embargo. Through Yo, we had already felt the benefit of having a guide to ourselves in terms of understanding what it was like to be Cuban. Yo could not wait for things to change. The next guide was to prove just as informative, but his attitude was markedly different. Luis took us for a walk in the hills, the Topes de Collantes, to see something of the scenery and wildlife. What a wonderful walk. Waterfalls, beautiful pools, exotic plants, a humming bird at close quarters and then, great excitement, a trogan, the national bird of Cuba. Meanwhile, Luis told us his life story — and he could talk! He had had a marriage of convenience to an older lady, which gave him the right to buy the land on which he was building his house. Land has to come from a family member, so this was his way of acquiring it. He now lived with his commonlaw wife and two small children in a room 20 metres square. He had a little lean-to for a bathroom. He was gradually building another room, as he found the wherewithal to do so. His aim was four rooms, but he admitted that that was a long way off. He never once complained about the system. He was proud of what he had done. We passed a group of German tourists on a guided tour. “It’s great,” he said. “We are paid by the government. He has 40 people: I have you two and I am being paid the same!” We had obviously made his day. Our last few days were to be spent in Havana, which necessitated another taxi ride. Our driver told us that the Spanish had brought their horses, which were essential. In Trinidad there were many people who travelled on horseback or in horse-drawn transport. As we travelled back we noticed that most agricultural work was done with oxen and mules pulling carts. Farmers went around their fields on horseback.

We returned to Havana via Santa Clara, where we went straight to the Plaza de la Revolucion. We were astonished to see the hugely impressive monument to Che Guevara. In the Che Guevara museum you see everything, from his pistol to his medical equipment. He was a trained doctor. It was obvious that he had been a hugely charismatic character, who had been loved and respected. And so to Havana. A beautiful city which has had little done in terms of upkeep in 60 years. When we were there, approximately one seventh of the buildings had been renovated and were very beautiful but, in some areas, whole

The cracked windscreen, sagging springs and rusting paintwork all added to the sense of adventure blocks looked as if they might fall down any day. It was shocking to realise that people lived in them. We saw all the main tourist sights, but a highlight had to be visiting the Ambos Mundos Hotel, where Hemingway stayed. His room has been made into a museum. On the wall was the telegram he had received telling him that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, and a photo of him reading it. The guide had been much entertained by Michael Palin while he was filming in Havana. She had also been scandalised when he had asked if he could lie on Hemingway’s bed! Before leaving England we had read about a must visit restaurant in Havana, so we had saved it for our last night. You had to book. When we arrived, we were sure that this could not be right. It was a tall, run-down building and we went cautiously in to find a huge entrance hall, completely bare, which had obviously not been decorated for many decades. There was a very dilapidated, formerly beautiful, stone staircase at the back of the room. At the top we were confronted by lines of washing stretched across another bare room. Even more disconcerting was to see that the back of the building was supported by wooden trusses. Increasingly nervous, we climbed the next flight of stairs — and found ourselves in a well-lit corridor lined with photographs! This led into three small dining rooms, with tables smartly covered in white damask. Conversation buzzed, wine flowed and food smelled wonderful. We had arrived at La Guarida, the most surprising restaurant I have ever visited. It was a metaphor for Cuba — the entrepreneurial spirit flourishing in the midst of neglect. But, on many of the buildings in Havana, people have scrawled, “Viva Fidel”. It is such a fascinating country. Ann Mills, Leighton Buzzard NWR

NWR Magazine Spring 2018 23

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NWR Magazine Spring 2018  
NWR Magazine Spring 2018