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Protect our Pollinators – and our right to protest

By News


FOLLOWING on from April’s article about using peat free compost, I would like to draw your attention to a new scheme. The Kingfisher Farm Shop* at Abinger has introduced a Bag for Life Compost scheme to reduce single use plastic consumption. They are providing Melcourt Sylvia Grow Multi Purpose peat free compost and Melcourts Bag for Life which can take up to 40L of peat free compost. The refillable bag (pictured) costs £2.95 and the compost £7 for 40L. Sounds like a bargain to me!

A new Bill progressing through Parliament has caused concern and needs to be addressed. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has successfully received its second reading in the House of Commons.


What has this to do with the climate? Members of the public who are increasingly concerned about the climate crisis feel it is their right to protest peacefully, to put pressure on the Government to bring in stronger powers to reduce carbon emissions and build a sustainable economy. The measures needed to fulfill the Paris agreement have not been met. The Environment Bill has been delayed again and the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill has yet to move from the first stage.

It was good to see the pictures of Surrey WI members holding placards in support of International Women’s Day. No doubt they were a little nervous, maybe excited even to express their feelings so publicly. It is important that we can stand up and express an opinion without getting a criminal record. Last Saturday I joined a group of friends spread out through the town with banners to ‘Protect Peaceful Protest’.  The Bill currently going through Parliament threatens to damage that right. Covid restrictions were adhered to and we had a lot of support. We have to remember that without protests, women would not have the vote and the UK Government would not have declared a Climate Emergency.

This month I want to focus on encouraging pollinators to your garden. When people say pollinators they usually mean honey bees but there are about 4,000 native pollinators in the UK. Bumble bees, solitary bees, honey bees, moths, flies, wasps, sawflies…

Different shapes and sizes are suited to different flowers eg. foxgloves and aquilegias have deep flowers which suit garden bumble bees, lavender and catmint are attractive to short tongued bumble bees and marjoram is visited by many different insects. Some plants can renew their nectar when an insect has enjoyed a feast, white dead nettle and borage are good at this and it ensures that they are pollinated.  Borage is also a pretty addition to Pimm’s!

What else can we do to encourage pollinators? Please don’t use insecticides. A Gardeners Question Time gardener was told as a lad: “If it moves slowly enough, step on it, if it doesn’t, leave it — it will probably kill something else”.


I am a fan of Dave Goulson. He was on Gardeners World recently showing us his garden. It wasn’t tidy, there was no bare soil but it was rich in plant life and insects. A parsnip left to go to seed was covered in blackfly, they obviously preferred it to the adjacent broad beans — a good example of letting nature take its course. Of course he knows what he’s doing and gives us the benefit of his experience. **

In 2016 he decided to do some research into bedding plants sold in garden centres and B&Q etc. Analysis showed that although the plants had the RHS logo and Perfect for Pollinators label they had been treated with insecticide and fungicide. These toxins were in the pollen of the majority of the plants on sale that were tested and could attract bees to poisonous nectar. Talk to the staff at the garden centre  about it next time you visit. Perhaps better to grow your flowers from seed and enjoy the buzz in your garden!


**The Garden Jungle by Dave Goulson.

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Surrey Federation is going more DIGITAL

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Surrey Federation is going more DIGITAL

Introducing Office 365

THE Federation’s Digital Working Group is addressing how confidential information can be shared by all who need access to it in a secure manner, quicker than Royal Mail and in a more environmentally  friendly way.

Surrey Federation will be implementing the Microsoft Office 365 System (the System), which uses the Cloud (meaning storage on the internet) to centrally store information. Many Federations are already using Office 365 successfully.


We conducted extensive research into Office 365 and have employed a company used by other Federations to implement the System for us.

We started this project pre-COVID-19, and then at the start of the pandemic the project was put on hold until now as we embark on the route out of lockdown.

To summarise, each WI will be provided with four email addresses; three addresses to give to the WI officers (President, Secretary and Treasurer) access to the federation System, and an additional ‘info’ WI email address for potential members to make enquiries to the WI.

Email continuity

Confidential information which is usually sent to WIs in paper form can be accessed via the Federation System by the officers of every WI using their allocated email address and password.

Each WI President, Secretary and Treasurer will be issued with a password to use with their email address to gain access to the Federation System. When a new officer is appointed, the password will be changed but the position email address will remain and, therefore, the emails of the predecessor will still be accessible.

Setting up

The implementation of Office 365 across the Federation should be completed by this month (June) and will start to be rolled out to WIs in September.

We are planning a programme of training and supporting materials to help you familiarise yourself with the System and be confident with using it.


We have received positive feedback from some WIs who are looking forward to having access to the System and having general email addresses and hope that in the future everyone will embrace the System.

Although we acknowledge that some WIs may not wish to use the System at this time, the office will continue to provide hard copies of information in these circumstances, as the federation is committed to  providing information in whatever form a WI requires. — The Digital Working Group

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Drawing with Sophie Artemis

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SOPHIE Artemis’s three-week art sessions have been a great success, as you can see from some of the work produced below.

And by the time you read this, her students will have completed a fifth session!

Sessions began in November and continued into 2021 at the request of the ten attendees.

The group has certainly been on an incredible art journey during lockdown.

First, Sophie introduced them to the fundamentals of observation drawing, using tone, perspective, line and volume. All techniques have been demonstrated step by step, providing clear explanations and  answering various questions along the way.

Examples of the various techniques include: Using positive and negative space to view the subject; drawing on toned paper to show how to depict puppy fur, lips and teeth; urban and city — looking at the vertical and perspective; figures — seeing their line of action; landscapes with reflective water; trees; the Grisaille painting technique in which a monochromatic palette is used; tonal drawing — things you can see!

Sophie has led workshops at Watts Gallery, the Craft Council London, the V&A and in a high security prison. She teaches a regular drawing and illustration class and now delivers on Zoom. Her work is held at the Tate Library and the National Art Library at the V&A.

The respective group members have given permission for copies of their drawings to be exhibited over the coming months. — Marion Mitchell, Chair of the Events, Leisure & Fundraising Committee

The Illustrations on this page were done by Gillian Merrick


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A tribute to Lyn Chalcraft of Cranleigh

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A tribute to Lyn Chalcraft of Cranleigh

DENISE Rasell has sent this: “I am writing this as a member of Ash Hill WI as a way of saying “thank you” to Lyn Chalcraft for all the hard work she has put in to Cranleigh WI. Lyn was a dear friend of mine and we met through Home Start, a volunteer charity that helps young families that are struggling. I am sorry to say that Lyn sadly passed away at the beginning of March.

“The following tribute is written by Jackie Rubie, president of Cranleigh.”

Lyn was President of Cranleigh Evening WI from 2004–2006 and was instrumental in starting the Community Challenge to raise £5,000 to furnish a relatives’ room in a proposed new Cranleigh Hospital, which never materialised.

It was decided to donate the £5,570.71 raised to our existing hospital when a new X-Ray and scanner facility was opened. The money went towards furnishing the waiting room in the radiology department with chairs, patient chairs, chairs for the X-Ray room and ultrasound rooms, plus two ultrasound beds, a sonographer’s stool and chair.

Many members organised 32 events such as coffee mornings, a Burns Night supper, Bridge supper, jazz lunch, sponsored swim and many more.

The radiology department was offically opened on May 24, 2019 by the Rt. Hon Anne Milton, our local MP.

Lyn is on the far right of the picture, in front of plaques marking the opening of the department and the WI’s contribution. With her, from left, are WI members Sue Ross, Pat Hill, and Lis Wickenden.

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WIs swing into action to help the Bees

By News

WIs swing into action to help the Bees

Many of you must have been wondering how our colleagues in the prison WIs have been coping during the various lockdowns. We know how much your support has meant to them from the grateful thanks we received from the women artists of Send, some of whom are Send Inspired members, for your terrific response to their Christmas card and calendar sale. Here’s another heart warming tale of the WI at its best from JILL ELLIOTT, who was instrumental in setting up the first prison WIs in Surrey.

BRONZEFIELD Bees WI is situated at HMP Bronzefield and was the first WI to be formed in a women’s prison.

This came about in 2010 as a result of the WI mandate Care not Custody in 2008. There are now seven such WIs, including Send Inspired and Downview Dames in the Surrey Federation.

If you were able to join our Annual Council Meeting in March you will have heard guest speaker and NFWI chairman Lynne Stubbings speak of this (and what a triumph and technical achievement that council meeting was!)

Shortly before Easter I was in touch with Dee Flarry, the President of Bronzefield Bees WI. She mentioned how much it helped the women to be engaged in craft activities during lockdown and they were very short of craft materials. Knowing how generous and supportive WI members have been in the past, I contacted the Presidents of my local WIs in the Emlyn Downs Group. Members were invited to donate and drop off supplies to my door step over five days.

In addition I suggested that a card and message with the items would be welcomed.

The response was both speedy and generous, plus the added bonus that I enjoyed many socially distanced greetings! By the Friday my car was very full and when Amanda Edge, president of Great Bookham Belles arrived with their contribution, I was pleased to have her help in completing the loading up, as you will see from a photo she took!

On the Saturday before Easter I arranged to meet Dee in a car park to hand over the many bags and packages. On my return home I sent a very grateful thank you to all WI members for their kind and generous response.

Since then Dee has been in touch, having sorted the many donations and it was a great pleasure to receive her  message. We felt it would be lovely to share this story with Surrey members, many of whom have supported our three prison WIs in recent years.

In normal times my good friend and retired WI Adviser Jan Heasman would have been hoping to accompany me on such a mission, but with present restrictions that was not possible and as it turned out the passenger seat was full!

We look forward to the time when we can visit all our prison WIs again.


And a response from Dee, the Bees’ President, to all who donated

THIS message is sent with heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all of you who made donations recently to the Bronzefield Bees WI.

The donations were of a high standard and our members are very grateful for all that we have received.

The well wishing cards are also very much appreciated as the regime at Bronzefield is limited at present and our members are spending a lot of their time in their cells. The good wishes show that many people care and are thinking of our members during this time.

The prison, as with the country, is slowly moving on to the next level and work areas are gradually opening up  affording the women a chance to get back to a bit of normality.

We very much look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary (2020) delayed by a Covid year in 2021 — if things go well this could be late summer and we will welcome as many of you as can attend.

Once again thank you so much for your support, it means a lot to our members.

Kind regards — Dee Flarry, President of the Bronzefield Bees WI

PS We are also very grateful to you Jill for organising this and have plenty of supplies to keep us going for a while.

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By News


I HAD the pleasure of voting in the Special World Conference on April 20 on behalf of SFWI on the resolution to re-schedule the Triennial World Conference to May 2023 from May 2022. I was one of the 98.6% who voted in favour.

Afrodita Roman, Europe Area President, requests feedback from ACWW supporters as to how we are coping in the strange times of Covid-19. She has missed visiting the ACWW societies, so is seeking knowledge of our resilience as we emerge from lockdown.

If you visit and click on Membership you can follow the link to the latest edition of The Countrywoman, where you will find the complete list of new projects.

It is difficult to fund raise at present but you can donate direct to ACWW via their website. You can also become an individual member of ACWW for £27 and receive regular updates on their work as well as receiving copies of The Countrywoman which comes out twice a year in print and twice online.

If you missed Women Walk the World, which returned to ACWW Day on April 29, you might like to host a walk on another day for members who support ACWW. This year it is so important to focus on friendship. All our advocacy, project funding and networking is on that foundation of friendship and collaboration, so think of all the other women who have walked. If your WI has a strong ACWW supportive section or it would like to develop one, please contact me on

Jill Mulryan, ACWW Representative

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What’s New from HQ (June 2021)

By News

What’s new from HQ

At the time of writing the Federation staff are all still all working from home. Now we have the Office 365 system we have access to all the files we require on a remote basis via the cloud.

You have by now received the mailing sent out to WI Treasurers at the end of April/early May which consisted of an application form for an Independent Financial Examiner and the Constitution and Rules for Women’s Institutes in booklet form. Please can you complete and sign a copy of page 23 and return it to the Federation office by no later than Friday, July 2. If anything is missing, please email us on

If you requested New Member Packs during the last year and have not received them and still require them, please email us with your WI name, quantity required and a name and address to which to post them, or alternatively complete and return the stationery request form which can be accessed via our website under Document Library.

Best wishes,

Karen Whitehead, Federation Secretary 

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Meet your Federation Trustees

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The election/co-option of Trustees to serve for 2020-22 was conducted by email. This is an update of the information published in SWIN online a year ago, since when Judith Broome, Chris Butterfield and Pat Whiffin have stepped down as Trustees, and Ruth Williams has joined the Board. We thought you would like to know more about the them. Here’s what they say about themselves, including WI/Federation posts they have held, past and present.


Federation Chairman.

Member since 2009 of Deepcut & Frimley and Bagshot WIs.

WI/Federation posts held: Current Bagshot Secretary, Deepcut: Committee and Minuting Secretary, President, Deepcut & Frimley: Event Manager. Federation Vice-chair, Vicechair Home Economics, Craft and Gardening Committee, chair Communications and Publicity Committee

Married with two children, four grandchildren. Academic and author.

Hobbies: Cooking, gardening and garden design, machine and hand needlework, historic houses and gardens, Yoga.


TOTO JAMES:Member since 2010. Fulham & Chelsea, Streatham.

WI/Federation posts held: Committee member/President Fulham & Chelsea. Federation vice-chairman, Head of Digital, member Membership Committee, Digital and Public Affairs Working Groups. NFWI Trustee and member of NFWI Public Affairs Committee.

London based marketing consultant and has undertaken a number of charity projects, including establishing a visiting English teaching programme at a school in Gujarat, India.


Member since 2011 of Streatham.

WI/Federation posts held: Federation vicechairman, WI Adviser, chair of Membership, Public Affairs team leader.

Married for 27 years, four daughters, various pets. Former nanny and teacher of nursery aged children at a school in Battersea, school governor for 13 years. Likes cold water swimming and is a Brown Owl.


Founder member of Caterham Hill, 2015.

WI/Federation posts held: Caterham Hill treasurer, Federation treasurer, Independent Financial Examiner.

Work as a chartered accountant, parttime at quieter parts of the year.

Hobbies: certificate and diploma in hand embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework, now concentrating on Japanese embroidery. Active member of Oakhall Church in Caterham.


Member since 1987, New Malden.

WI/Federation posts held: In the ‘90s took Open College Network courses in preserves and baking delivered by Eileen Bowler and was invited to join the Home Economics Committee and deliver courses in nutrition and music, health and safety. Worked with NFWI setting up Let’s Cook programme working with disadvantaged families, trained tutors, served on the national cookery committee. Delivered qualifications to Surrey members in baking and preserves and Royal Society of Health qualifications. Trustee since 2012.

Retired teacher, married with four children and nine grandchildren.

Hobbies: Gardening and member of the camera group.


Member since 2011. Churt.

WI/Federation posts held: Speaker hostess, secretary, President, Haslemere Group co-ordinator. Events, Leisure and Fundraising sub-committee member and current chairman.

Married, with two sons and identical twin granddaughters. Worked for Cornhill Insurance Group for 22 years and Barclays Bank for five years processing the mis-selling of pensions and mortgages.

Hobbies: reading, gardening, painting/drawing. Member of Churt Village Garden Club.


Member since 2015. Old Coulsdon Cupcakes.

WI/Federation posts held: Federation vicechairman, chair of Publicity and Communications Working Group, founding President, committee member, joint co-ordinator Purley Group; social media champion, member of Digital and Events, Leisure & Fundraising committees.

Married, with three step-children and one step-grandson. Last job was HR and salaries administrator at a veterinary  practice. Sits on several local committees, treasurer for local group fund raising for Christmas lights for our village.



HILARY BROOKS: Member since 1985, Walton-on-Thames.

WI/Federation posts held: Committee member twice for a total of 19 years, President four years; Resolutions representative since 2018, Resolutions and Campaign Advocate.

Retired district nurse and long term widow, three lovely but far-flung children.

Hobbies: genealogical research, church bellringing (tower secretary and Guildnewsletter editor). Trustee for Elmbridge Youth Theatre, enjoys sewing costumes for their productions.

JILL MULRYAN: Member since 2008. Kenley Flyers.

WI/Federation posts held: Secretary to Kenley and Kenley Flyers, Purley Group coconvenor, member Edenbridge & Oxted Show committee, ACWW rep.

Married 55 years, two children, three grandchildren. Trained as a nurse, requalified as a social worker. Volunteer meeter and greeter at Purley Hospital, treasurer and assistant to organiser of an elders’ lunch club; organised local dining club for several years.


Member since 2012, Spa Sweethearts (Harrogate); Tooting.

WI/Federation posts held: President and membership secretary Spa Sweethearts; founder President of Tooting.

Moved to London in 2015 to start a new job. Joined the WI after university, enjoyed it so much I wanted to find another group in London. Couldn’t find the right group for me so set up my own and Tooting WI was born! Event Senior Executive at Cancer Research UK, organising our volunteer awards ceremony and other recognition events. Massive theatre and film fan.


(2021) A member of the WI for over eight years, firstly with Ewell Court and then Stoneleigh where she has been President since 2017.

Ruth’s working life was in marine insurance as a Lloyds broker and then in the legal world as a Fee Earner with London solicitors in the litigation department. Ruth is a member of the Arts Society and volunteers as a church Recorder. She spent many years with amateur dramatic companies, sourcing, making and managing props, enjoys a variety of crafts and is researching her family tree, learning French, re-visiting Russian and keeps fit with Pilates and has added more walking to her regime.


THE Federation is anxious to recruit more Trustees. If you are interested, you are welcome to attend a Board of Trustees committee meeting as an observer to see what goes on and what is involved. The next BoT meetings are scheduled for Mondays July 5 and September 6, both starting at 9.30am at SFWI HQ if circumstances permit, if not they will be held via Zoom. Please notify the office if you are interested in attending either of these.

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Bursary to train as Forest School Assistant

By News

Bursary to train as Forest School Assistant

SURREY Federation has linked up with Surrey Wildlife Trust to offer a WI member a £400 bursary towards the cost of training as a Level 2 Forest School Assistant.

Forest schools offer all people (children, young adults, and adults) the opportunity to develop confidence, social  skills, communication, adeptness and more through interacting with nature.

They are discovery and exploration-based, promoting the love of learning new things, at the same time developing one’s character, resilience, social skills, and more.

Forest Schools offer a refreshing alternative to the traditional classroom setting. The experience of having learners go into nature and be outside to learn, sparks many educational benefits.

The total cost of training for a Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistants is £490 (inclusive).

The next Level 2 courses will be held at Nower Wood Education Centre, Leatherhead, KT22  8QA on September 29-30 and October 20-21.

Participants should be over 18 years old and have some experience of working with young people or adults, for example youth workers, teaching assistants or teachers.

In addition they must:

* Be DBS checked.

* Attend the four days of theory and practice.

* Be able to assist with the planning and delivery of three Forest School sessions.

* Complete a workbook of evidence.

The course commitment is approximately 60 hours and there is an option to attend a monthly mentoring session (these are not compulsory but highly recommended).

The course should take six months to complete, although some have handed all coursework in after a few months.

To apply for the bursary, write or email the office with your name, address, phone number, name of your WI, stating why you are applying for the bursary, your experience of working within the community and the qualities you are able to bring to this role.

Applicants will be shortlisted by the Federation and may then be interviewed by a member of the Surrey Wildlife Trust staff. The closing date for applications is July 31.

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