International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8 March and to get involved, Seven Hills WI decided to hold an IWD event a week later on 15 March, at our home in Electric Works!
Now, I like to think that every monthly meeting we have is a little celebration of womanhood but the IWD event was open to EVERYBODY (even men!) allowing both members and non-members to see what SHWI was about and support some good causes in the process.
There were various stalls for people to peruse, one providing info on SHWI and the NFWI, a table of fabulous raffle prizes generously donated by various local businesses (there’s more on that later) and another stand set up for Oxfam to show how they support women and raise some money.
SHWI committee member Grace brought along her boyfriend Hugh and their new business venture Blousey’s Bar along to treat the attendees to some scrumptious cocktails: a super gin-tastic Tom Collins and the fabulous, not to mention incredibly popular, SHWI Cosmo! (which was invented by Hugh for a SHWI meeting a couple of years ago). Of course, in the interests of fairness, I had to try both – and both were deliciously lethal. The drinks seemed to go down very well with everyone – which is a good job, since 10% of the money made went to Oxfam.
Another SHWI member (and past speaker) to ‘set up shop’ was Chella Quint with her 1913 Exhibition – celebrating 100 years since her grandmother was born. A timeline of personal and international events from a century ago was pinned up for people to check out – along with a piece on the zip! Invented in 1913 – the zipper is perhaps something we take for granted. Chella encourages people to count their zips and plot them on a board to see if there is pattern between age and number of zips worn. I prefer an elasticated waistband myself – it helps with all the cake and cocktail intake…
Speaking of cake – it wouldn’t be a true SHWI event if we weren’t flogging baked goods for charity! This time round, our friends at Oxfam benefited from money made selling homemade treats such as mini strawberry daiquiri cupcakes, chocolate chip muffins and slices of fruit cake.
As a WI – it’s all about supporting local charities that benefit women, which is why the proceeds from our ticket sales went to SWWOP – the Sheffield Working Women’s Opportunities Project which supports women involved in street prostitution. Perhaps some may think a slightly controversial choice of cause to support, but as we would soon find out, the WI has a history of radical choices when it comes to resolutions and causes they help.
The main event at our do was the lovely Jane Robinson – social historian and author of several books relating to women and their battles with equality. She came to give a talk on two of previous books and arguably the book that held most interest for us SHWI members was ‘A Force to Be Reckoned With – a History of the Women‘s Institute’. A lot of members have already read it and it featured in our Book Club a couple of months ago. I won a copy of this book on a SHWI raffle, and at first I wasn’t that fussed about reading it, but when I actually bothered to pick it up – I found I couldn’t put it down. Never has a book affected me so emotionally – tears pricking my eyes as I learnt how much the WI had done during both World Wars, anger rising as read about the struggles the founding members had fought past and the warm glow that followed when I realised that I was part of something much bigger than our local Sheffield group.
But Jane wasn’t here to only acknowledge the WI – she also spoke of that book’s predecessor ‘Bluestockings’, a history of women’s fight for education. Her talk was illustrated by some great slides, and, as the group Photographer, it was fascinating to see pictures of WI ladies larking about in cornfields, or dressed up as Toby Jugs, and serious looking University students posing for class photos.
I can’t have been the only one moved by Jane’s speech – a lot of women in that room will have benefited from a university education and some of those women will be members of the WI, both ‘old’ and new. It’s thought-provoking to find out what the women of yesterday went through to give the women of today the freedom to choose.
All-in-all, the night was a huge success! But we couldn’t let Jane leave without a quick hurtle down the helter skelter and I was only too happy to take her – it’s becoming a bit of habit, me taking speakers down the slide!
(Photos by Laura Bainbridge)
Message from Lindsay, SHWI President
We raised a fantastic £400 for SWWOP through our event and we’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who made that possible: Jane Robinson, Electric Works, Blousey’s Bar, Chella Quint, everyone who bought a ticket and the SHWI Committee members who worked on the night: Kim Whelan, Jen Marsden, Katie Mountain, Anna Pilson, Anna Tebble, Vicky Porteous, Leanne Sunter, Blanche Spataro, Grace Tebbutt, Donna Yeates, Kirsty Bowen, Vickie Riley and Laura Bainbridge.
While we’re dishing out the thank yous, we can’t forget all those lovely companies who donated raffle prizes. Here’s a list of the prizes (pretty good eh?) and those brilliant people who gave them to us…
· Beautiful flowers from Campbell’s Flowers (www.campbellsflowers.co.uk)
· A chocolate chip cookie mix jar from Heather’s Cookies (auntieheathershomemade.wordpress.com)
· Two sets of Our Tiny Bees British honey beauty products (www.ourtinybees.co.uk)
· Afternoon tea for two at Martha Heritage, Millhouses (www.facebook.com/MarthaHeritageUK)
· Two cinema tickets for the Showroom (www.showroomworkstation.org.uk)
· A sewing classcourtesy of Robyn’s Nest (www.robynsnestuk.co.uk)
· Four tickets to see Bromheads at the Leadmill on 25 April (www.leadmill.co.uk)
· A £20 voucher to buy a fascinator, hat or hair accessories from Imogen’s Imagination (www.imogensimagination.co.uk)
· A voucher for a cut and finish from Boudoir Hair, Ranmoor (www.boudoirhair.com)
· A voucher for Cocoa Wonderland on Ecclesall Road (www.cocoawonderland.co.uk)
· Two signed books by Sunday Times bestselling author Milly Johnson (www.millyjohnson.co.uk)
· A voucher for a meal for two at the Red Deer, Pitt Street, S1 (www.red-deer-sheffield.co.uk)
· A cake from Tipple Tails (www.reallygreatfruitcake.co.uk)