After a couple of pints of stout, surrounded by soft falling snow, everything starts to look a bit magical…which is a good job, because I can’t have been the only SHWI lady with mixed feelings about our new venue. We’d been at St Matthew’s rooms for a few years now, we officially started there! Isn’t a church hall exactly where a Women’s Institute should be? But now, walking towards our new, modern, bright venue, it started to feel exciting… I mean, St Matt’s doesn’t even have disabled access, let alone an indoor slide! I needn’t have worried. The new place, Electric Works, is perfect for us. I arrived to find a rather official – if not a tad excited – looking Miss Mountain on the brightly coloured reception. To my left was THAT helter skelter. It was at this point I went, as my Grandma would have said, “as giddy as a kipper”.
Suddenly, all at once, I had to run around the building and see what’s what, say hello to everyone, get my cupcakes out and on display (not a euphemism), see where tea is made, realise I don’t really need to make tea anymore (win), take photographs of anything and everything, go to the toilet, put my committee rosette on, greet the guest speaker and find a place to dump my bags whilst I carried on running around annoying everyone. And then I went on the Helter Skelter. Yes, yes.. I may be 30 this year, but I could not wait to get my feet in the sack and hurtle down the chute. After mildly bullying everyone else down and taking pictures of their horrified faces, I got to try it myself. Yes it was worth the giddiness – I want to do it EVERY MONTH. Finally I sat down, able to admire our new room. This was not the cold conference centre I was expecting. Our beautiful bunting was hanging around us, the new logo was splashed on the walls, the familiar gingham table cloths ready to catch crumbs and spills…it was warm and inviting. But best of all, there was plenty of space for us. It’s now possible to walk around the tables with relative ease! Not only did I have an actual chair to sit on (as opposed to the floor) but I had a chair for my bags! Our first speaker for 2013 was meant to be Toby Foster – but unfortunately he had to cancel last minute. Luckily for us, Mr Foster didn’t want to disappoint a large group of ladies and found us a replacement – his BBC Radio Sheffield colleague Paulette Edwards. As an aside…I just think it’s worth pointing out how lucky we have been with “replacement” speakers. Not once have I felt that I have missed out on the original. Good work everyone!
Paulette was friendly, funny and seemed genuinely surprised that she had ended up on radio, having started her career as a teacher. She spoke of ambitions and dreams, encouraging us to keep an ongoing list of 10 things to do or achieve. Apparently, if we write them down, they are more likely to happen – certainly worth a try? She seems a great lady and up for a good laugh – she was first down the slide, despite her initial fears, was amazed at the edible glitter sprinkled on my cupcakes and was disappointed to learn that SHWI hit full capacity at 125 members at the meeting. As another aside, not only have we had some fabulous speakers over the years, but some of them must think we’re pretty fabulous too – several of our members first came to as speakers! The evening ended with more helter skelter action and the comforting thought that now we have access to a dishwasher, I won’t be spending so much time washing up on the third Thursday of the month. Finally – I just want to say a massive thank you to the wonderful ladies at Electric Works for making this happen. I apologise in advance for any future helter skelter related nonsense. And, just in case I haven’t said it enough…HELTER SKELTER! Laura SHWI Committee