Make posts appear on News page

NFWI publishes bus survey report

By News

NFWI publishes bus survey report

THE NFWI has published a report entitled A New Route for Bus Services, based on information submitted by WI members.

The report aims to help build an understanding of the impact of cuts to bus services on women and people living in rural areas. In particular, the report explores a significant reduction in local bus services impacts on mental health, isolation and social exclusion, and sets out recommendations for  future action.

The report is part of the WI’s Get on Board campaign. Launched in 2019, the campaign calls on the Government and local authorities to increase subsidies and work in partnership with bus companies and community transport operators to enable an adequate provision of services.

The report found that:

* There is a need for a higher frequency of bus services in rural areas. Whilst the funding pledged by Government to overhaul bus services is welcomed, we need to ensure funding for local authorities is ring-fenced, sustainable and long-term to guarantee a minimum frequency of bus services for towns and rural areas and to enable local authorities to start planning for the future.

* Rural areas should receive an adequate share of the £3 billion investment proposed to ensure they receive the support they need. Considerations made to modernise the Bus Services Operator Grant must include additional amounts given to rural areas as well as new incentives for demand responsive transport.

* Bus services must be responsive to the needs of women. The Government, local authorities and transport operators must consider the needs and travelling patterns of women in all future transport policy and developments, including Bus Service Improvement Plans, which will need to be published by Local Transport Authorities by October 2021. The Government must also do more to ensure women are represented at decision making levels for transport planning, including on forums such as Bus Advisory Boards and through the Transport for Wales Advisory Panels.

* Bus services need to be better integrated with other transport networks. The Government must ensure that Bus Service Improvement Plans prioritise the integration of bus services with rail and other transport networks in order to increase the appeal of buses as an alternative to car usage.

* Investment in more regular bus services is necessary to create a modal shift away from dependency on cars for environmental reasons.

The Government’s announcement to invest a further £120 million in zero emission buses is welcome. However, the Government must ensure that this investment is not limited to buses for towns and cities, but also supports services in rural areas that suit the needs of these residents. Plans to modernise the Bus Services Operator Grant must include incentives for the take up of zero emission vehicles suitable for meeting the needs of all communities.

WI members’ responses to the survey showed that:

46 per cent said access to basic services had been negatively impacted by a reduction in bus services.

37 per cent said access to health services had been negatively impacted by cuts to bus services.

19 per cent of respondents in rural areas said reduction in bus services had negatively impacted their mental health

72 per cent of all respondents said cuts to bus services had increased their dependency on car use and relying on friends and family

50 per cent of all respondents said they would use the car less if they had access to a frequent, reliable bus service.

The NFWI is asking members to use a template letter, which can be downloaded from MyWI, and email local councillors asking them to support these recommendations and implement them in Bus Service Improvement Plans, which will need to be published by Local Transport Authorities by October 2021.

back to News

Black gold – but at what price?

By News

Text here

Black gold — but at what price?

by Rosemary Horton, Climate Ambassador


LET’S face it, tackling the climate emergency means reducing carbon emissions drastically. When I sat down to write this article I checked my messages, as you do. I was encouraged to read that the International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that reducing carbon emissions involves ending investment in new coal, oil and gas today to reach zero by 2050. This is the first time the IEA has aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.

So why is this significant? Oil and gas drilling is nothing new in Surrey. Most of it happens quietly behind unobtrusive gates and little is known of what happens there. Stringent regulations have to be adhered to, planning permissions sought and environmental regulations met. Sites such as Albury have continued to produce a steady supply of gas for many years now. So, what is the problem?

The Government’s Geological Survey produced a report (The Weald Basin Jurassic Shale Study) in 2014. It concluded that yes, there is oil and gas in the Weald but it is hard to access and very  localised, in ‘sweet spots’.

Take Brockham for example: BP drilled for oil there from 1987 using nodding donkeys. However, they found the yields were lower than hoped, with excessive water, and sold the site. Since then it has had several owners, the most recent of whom are Angus Energy. They have bored more wells but failed to discover significant yields despite going far deeper. Right now they are applying for permission from the Environment Agency to convert one of their wells into a water-disposal facility.

Why is this needed? Waste water from oil drilling is extremely ‘dirty’, containing pollutants from deep in the earth plus any chemicals that might have been used to help extract the oil. When oil is hard to get at, they need to break down the rock around it to bring oil droplets together to aid extraction. Called ‘acidisation’, a complex solution of chemicals is pumped into the well, strong enough to dissolve rock. This solution of acids, water, lubricants and oil is pumped out of the ground and the oil extracted. The remaining waste water has to be disposed of and the cheapest way is to pump it back into the ground.


If it is pumped into different strata it can cause stresses, even earthquakes, so it has to be undertaken very carefully, especially as huge amounts of fresh — potential drinking water — are used. A connection between the 2019 spate of minor earthquakes and the oilsite at Horse Hill near Horley was ruled out by an enquiry, but many consider it to be flawed. There is also the problem of drinking water. A significant number of wells degrade over time, within 15 years of being shut down. The ‘dirty’ water could leak out into the layers of rock that provide us with drinking water — a  potential time-bomb for the future. How dare we risk damaging such a precious resource?

Dunsfold is facing another application from United Kingdom Oil and Gas. In September 2019, Surrey County Council gave permission for four more production wells at Horse Hill with the go-ahead to drill for 20 years. A Redhill resident challenged SCC on this in court, claiming that the carbon emissions arising from the combustion of the oil were not in line with SCC Climate Emergency Status. The judge found that SCC were not required to consider greenhouse gas emissions when giving planning permission for massive expansion of oil drilling at the Horse Hill site.

Apparently, this judgement was in line with Government policy which hasn’t been updated since  before the net zero target was enacted and doesn’t reflect the fact that Parliament has declared a National Climate Emergency. How can we have a zero emissions target if we don’t count the carbon emissions?

Surely, because oil and gas are hard to extract and regulations hard to enforce, our time, money and energy could all be better spent working towards a renewable future.

I make no apologies for highlighting these important issues and am very grateful to Pat Smith, Dorking Climate Emergency, who ensured that I got the facts right. Pat helped raise money for the legal fees for the Horse Hill challenge by walking 100 miles between potential and active drilling sites in Surrey.

* For more information on oil drilling in Surrey:

back to News

Wildflower ‘highway’ on village verges

By News

Wildflower ‘highway’ on village verges

by Diane Poole of Bookham Bees WI


ACCORDING to the national charity Plantlife, over 700 species of wildflower grow on the UK’s road  verges —nearly 45% of our total flora. And where wild flowers lead, wildlife follows … a multitude of bees, butterflies, birds and bugs.

In April 2020, my husband Steve and I were delighted by the cowslips and other spring wildflowers on the local highway verges — and then horrified a week later to see these same verges scalped by the Surrey County Council mowers.

That was the start of our Bookham Blue Hearts Wildflower Verges project, working with the  residents’ association and county councillor to leave some verges unmown again until the autumn as a pilot.

The long-term aim is to create nectar-rich ‘highways’ that interconnect to form a national  ‘bloomband’ network.

The Blue Heart signs used on protected verges are beautifully decorated with bees, butterflies and  flowers with slogans like Bookham Bee Friendly to tell passers-by what it’s all about and spread the love.

Bookham Butterflies WI members Frances Fancourt and Angela Jones have been helping; Angela  being an excellent artist painted the hearts — this one was done for a verge with orchids.

The scheme was so successful, with the emergence of long suppressed flowers, that we have agreed  yet more Blue Heart verges this year with SCC and well over 50 residents have expressed interest in having their own Blue Heart verge outside their homes.

In one road, there will be multiple hearts in place soon, thanks to a past and a present Great  Bookham Belle member (not all our WIs are named after pollinators!).

We’ve used Facebook (@bookhambluehearts) and local print media for publicity and already the neighbouring villages of Fetcham and Effingham are joining in. We hope other Surrey WI members will be inspired to join in!


back to News

How we saw ourselves – 70+ years ago

By News

Key to pictures: Left to right: Introductory page to Miss Sutherland’s album; pages contributed by Blindley Heath and West Clandon to Mrs Auerbach’s album; page contributed by Tongham to Miss Sutherland’s album.

TWO albums made by WI members featured as Surrey Heritage Centre’s Marvel of the Month in May. We are grateful to the Centre for giving us  permission to reproduce some of these beautiful illustrations and an accompanying article which appeared on the centre’s website. The words contained in the Blindley Heath and West Clandon pages are at the bottom of this article. To see your WI’s contribution go to then type 3410/4/1 (1930 album) or 3410/4/2 (1945 album) in the search box.

How we saw ourselves — 70+  years ago


THE Federation’s archives include two presentation albums made for Mrs Helena Auerbach as an appreciation of her term of office as County President, 1919-1929, and for Miss Mary Kate Sutherland, County Secretary, 1920-1945. Both  contain illustrated pages contributed by each Surrey WI — 109 in Mrs Auerbach’s album, made in 1930, and 130 in Miss Sutherland’s, made in 1946.

The volumes contain paintings, drawings, photographs and verses, and there are many beautiful and charming  scenes which present a view of a surprisingly rural Surrey in the first half of the 20th century.

At Betchworth in Mrs Auerbach’s album, rabbits frolic in a meadow beneath gnarled old trees. The Blindley Heath page is decorated in the borders with fruit, pine cones and ivy leaves, while a fox, owl and goose peer from the brambles at the bottom of the page. Rowledge celebrated Alice Holt Forest in verse and depicted woodland animals,  birds and plants including a hedgehog, frog, toadstools and bluebell.

There is humour too — at nearby Hale the WI provided a photograph of members dressed up as a pack of cards for ‘living whist’ at Farnham Castle in 1925.


Other Institutes wrote verses or reports on their activities, such as the ladies of Blackheath who “sing top notes, sew cushions and found bobbed hair a help in acting Shakespeare”. At Hambledon “we have earned prizes for dancing, singing, bake new bread, spin yarn from sheep’s wool, cobble shoe or boot, cure colds, mend broken chair springs,

eat more fruit”, while at Haslemere “we’ve sung a lot of songs no angel dares”.

Fetcham highlighted traditional domestic expectations in a verse about the man of Fetcham who said “My supper’s cold mutton / My shirt lacks a button / For my wife has gone Institute mad”. The Shackleford page shows women cooking, knitting, tending chickens and babies, and playing a piano, but then, perhaps punning on their name (the branch banner drawn on the page shows a pair of shackles), a woman (is she breaking free?) drives off in a motor car.

Some WIs recalled entertaining visitors from deprived areas of London: verses on the Mickleham and Westhumble page, decorated with a snow-capped mountain and fantasy castle, recall “Parties we give for selves and others / Like Hoxton boys or Clapham mothers,” while Hurst Green had hosted 90 under-10s from a Bermondsey Council School and included the letter from one of the children, J. Fisher, who wrote that they liked the flowers, pigs, chickens, cows and lemonade.


Miss Sutherland’s album was completed in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, but few of the pages refer to it, depicting instead familiar scenes such as the view from Box Hill or the church and cottages at Holmbury St Mary.

However, Hale WI added a photograph of their tableau of the Allied nations from 1942 and the illustrations on the page from Tongham 1941-1945 show a long queue winding down a village street to the Red Cross Bring and Buy sale, while below a woman adds to a pile of “over 4,000 pairs of socks” and a lorry groans along a road under the weight of “Tongham pies” in the Rural Pie Scheme.

Some express hopes in their verses for a new beginning, as at Bookham where the line “man’s crimes put out the lights and hushed the church bells’ chimes” is contrasted with the work of the WI “To link with others in a common band / And span dividing seas, dividing faiths / Till fear and hatred fade like mist-made wraiths / Into the radiance of a new world’s glow”.

Then as now, in the face of difficult times, it seems people found enjoyment and solace in the surroundings of  nature and the countryside, and Brockham WI hoped for “peace in this green and pleasant land”.




Blindley Heath’s contribution:

May we who long have known her kindly presidential care,

Render our grateful thanks to her and hope that she,

Where e’er she be, may sometimes look upon this book which we prepare.

And once upon a time, before Societies and Leagues

Under their rules forbade all warlike pastimes and intrigues,

Each woman of our village, which is Blindley Heath you know,

Round pugilistic contests stood and watched each mighty blow.

But now no longer is our heath the scene of many fights

And yet we have no time to spare, but sit up late o’nights

Cake making, seating worn out chairs, embroid’ring, bottling fruit,

Having gleaned such varied knowledge at the Women’s Institute.

December, 1929 M. R. Malleson


West Clandon’s Poem

We send a picture of our village hall

Enough to say “We helped to build it.”

So you may know the good hard work we did

To raise a hall where we had none before.

Cottage and mansion all worked hard together,

Long were the hours we spent upon our Fete,

And upon whist drives, socials, all to help the cause.

Now we can have our village functions there,

Dances and meetings — agricultural shows.

Our warmest greetings to you, and a hope

Not to forget us quite, is all we ask.

back to News

The Queens Platinum Jubilee

The 2022 Eileen Bowler Competition

By News
The Queens Platinum Jubilee

The Eileen Bowler Competition, 2022:

Two chances to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

NEXT year Her Majesty The Queen will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee — 70 years since she ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952. To mark this very special occasion, our Eileen Bowler competition will consist of not one but two competitions.

Schedule 1

You are invited to write a reflective essay entitled Queen for a Day in not more than 500 words (the same length as for the Lady Denman Cup).

Entries should be posted or emailed to SFWI HQ by Friday, January 28, 2022.

Schedule 2

This is your chance to design a card for Her Majesty “on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee” on behalf of Surrey Federation. Your card can be completed in any way you wish but will need to be of a suitable size to be sent by Royal Mail —A5 or A4 or anything in between.

Platinum Jubilee card entries should be posted or delivered to SFWI Headquarters by Friday, January 21,2022.

The Queen for a Day winner will be announced at the Annual Council Meeting in March. If you would like guidance on the marking scheme that the judge will use, you can book a place on the essay course at our On with the Show event (see below).


On with the show!

Wednesday, October 6 – SFWI HQ, 10am-noon – 1pm-3pm.

DO YOU need help and advice for entering classes at shows? Perhaps you feel there’s no point in entering them because others are better than you! And if you do enter, do you wonder why you don’t score higher marks? Would you like to find out what judges were looking for when they choose the winner?


 We are offering members two half-day workshops at our Guildford HQ to assist, guide and encourage you to enter our competitions.

The day will be divided into four sessions: cookery and preserves in the morning and crafts and essay writing in the afternoon, and will focus on the 2022 Eileen Bowler Competition (see above for details), and the WI classes at the 2022 Surrey County Show.

The classes include a Victoria sandwich, a bottle of cordial, a knitted item, a crocheted item, a dough model, an item of jewellery, an item for a baby and two or more dressed peg dolls.

The schedule can be found at (scroll down to Surrey County Show and click on Schedule 2022).

The tutors (who include a couple of trained judges) will talk you through how to gain marks in competitions. You will also have the opportunity to have a go at judging items for yourself.

Members may apply to do either the morning or afternoon sessions, or both, and will be given a printout of On With The Show, the WI’s comprehensive guide to competing which tells you all you need to know. Our website, also contains a link to the booklet.

The cost is £5 per half day session (£10 whole day). Tea/coffee will be available but you will need to bring a packed lunch if you are attending both sessions.

The closing date for ticket applications is Friday, August 27. Apply via our website ( or by email to the office, following the ticket application instructions on Page 23 of SWIN or by post by filling in the application form on that page.

Home Economics, Craft and Gardening Committee

back to News

Can we train you to become a WI Adviser?

By News

Can we train you to become a WI Adviser?

Read on …

THE next round of WI Adviser training is due to start in September. The Federation needs more Advisers, so please ask yourself:


  • Dynamic and inspirational;
  • A good communicator;
  • Well organised.


  • Enjoy meeting people;
  • Enjoy helping others.

If the answer is “yes” you are just the sort of person we need. The WI will train you in leadership skills covering communication, WI governance and finance and providing support for WIs.

The role is voluntary and the accredited training is done through the NFWI and is paid for by Surrey Federation.

If you would like to be part of a team of enthusiastic women taking the WI forward, here’s what to do:

  • Go to and watch the So You Want To Be An Adviser video.
  • Contact the office to discuss becoming an Adviser.
  • Find further information on MyWI>Federation Team>Federation Roles>WI Advisers.

It’s a very worth while job and just the sort of post-lockdown challenge you might be looking for. We look forward to hearing from you.

back to News

Autumn Fed Speakers

Autumn Federation Meeting – Monday, 18th October 2021

By News
Autumn Fed Speakers


Meeting starts 10.15am. Tickets £16. closing date Friday, 3rd September book online via our website or by email/post via form on p23 of Swin

It must be third time lucky!

POSTPONED from March 2020, postponed again from October 2020, it must be third time lucky for the speakers we have had booked for so long!

Amanda Owen needs no introduction to fans of the Channel 5 series Our Yorkshire Farm, the story of life with her husband Clive and their nine “free range” children at remote Ravenseat Farm, high in the Yorkshire Dales. Snow, hail, gales, whatever the weather Amanda, Clive and the children are out there battling the elements to earn a living from their thousands of acres of moorland — a scene of incredible beauty but which can be cruel and hostile.

Joining her are two more women at the top of their game.

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton has been a firefighter since she was 18 and is now one of the most senior female firefighters in  the UK. After leaving home at 15 and school at 16, she joined the fire service in Wales. While climbing the ranks, she  studied at the Open University and then at Cardiff University, eventually completing a PhD in psychology. Her subsequent research into incident command in the emergency services has not only won awards but has also  influenced policy at a global level.

Sabrina was recently conferred as an Honorary Fellow at Cardiff University. Her first book, The Heat of the Moment, was  published in April 2019 and has been optioned for TV by Kudos TV. She is an ambassador for The Big Issue and lives with her husband and daughter in London.

Alieda Moore is Deputy Agent for Greater London at the Bank of England. Her job involves acting as the Bank’s eyes and ears to connect bank policymakers with London businesses and communities. She gathers business intelligence to inform monetary and financial stability decisions, such as the setting of UK interest rates and acts as a public speaker, explaining the bank’s policies to businesses, local communities and schools. It will be interesting to hear what she has to say about the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on Britain’s economy Alieda graduated with a first class Honours Degree in Economics from Loughborough University and previously worked as a consultant at Deloitte and intern at Goldman Sachs. She started her career at the Bank of England as a senior analyst, leading on  numerous work streams in preparation for a live bank failure.

Alieda is co-chair of the Bank of England Ethnic Minorities network and led on a successful launch of a new strategy that focuses on further senior engagement on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) issues and initiatives, aimed at making the network more inclusive to BAME and non-BAME staff. She is a mentor to one of the Bank of England African-Caribbean scholars and has also sat on the Steering Group of the Women in the Bank network.

Entertainment by students from Orpheus

THE Godstone-based Orpheus Centre was founded by Sir Richard Stilgoe. It is an independent specialist college that believes every young disabled person should have the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers. It offers a personalised study programme focusing on building independence, communication and social interaction skills through the arts, supported housing and a personal care service.

Orpheus students have performed in venues including the Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Glastonbury  Festival, Notting Hill Carnival, the Paralympic Opening Ceremony and the Royal Festival Hall and appeared in the hit TV show Call The Midwife. 

Ann Lovelace, a volunteer with the centre, will be telling stories of Orpheus and introducing alumni who will perform their chosen songs.



back to News

What’s New from HQ (July 2021)

By News

What’s new from HQ

During July there is no mailing planned, the next mailing will be at the end of August.

If your delegate for the NFWI Annual Meeting did not report back in person or send/ email you a written report about the meeting, please email the office at and we will send you a copy of the report.

The office is only manned twice a week at the time of writing and other times when required, but it will be closed to members for the whole of August.

Best wishes,

Karen Whitehead, Federation Secretary 

back to News

Message from our Federation Chairman (July 2021)

By News

Don’t fear the new, embrace it

‘Be Cautious, Be Calm, Be Kind’ a poster reads on the outskirts of Guildford as one is welcomed into the town, stoic advice as life has returned to relative normal. The regulations have now gone and we, some boldly, some far more tentatively, emerge.

For many it has been some considerable time since they have stepped beyond their garden gate, gone into a shop, a pub, eaten a meal out, and had family or friends in the house and to stay. For me it was eight long, painful months that I was prevented by Covid from seeing my daughter and her family.

I wish you all well on your journey to freedom, whatever form it takes. I am sure that your WI will be instrumental in facilitating this journey.

As WIs return to face-to-face meetings there will inevitably be caution and hesitancy. Some WIs are also greatly  concerned by reduced membership numbers and income. Will renewal cover the basic costs? Where can a new venue be found when evicted, or room costs have become too high, and new meeting models are required to  ensure members’ safety and comfort?  You will find those hidden strengths and skills to solve these problems, just as you have over the past year.

What might seem one challenge too much, is the Federation’s introduction of Office 365. Many of you have greeted  the Federation’s Office 365 advances with enthusiasm, some have chided them, whilst other have met them with resignation. Fear not, be calm, help is at hand!

Due to the strict regulations around General Data Protection, it has become vital that the Federation ensures that your data is kept safe. Office 365 is the answer. It will also facilitate remote access for our staff working from home, to enable us to keep them safe and to promote environmentally friendly working practices.

But what will it mean for you as a WI, I hear you say? ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. Fear of the unknown is a basic human trait, and crucial to our survival. We are programmed to either fight our flee, we embrace or we turn our back.

I recall my mother-in-law, well into her 90s, rising to the challenge of the computer in order to play crib, and my  parents similarly acquiring computer skills late in life to track their grandson via a blog as he trekked across South Africa.

Office 365, in the fullness of time, will become a tool to serve all our needs. WI officers will have their own email addresses, space on the cloud where documents can be shared virtually, and most importantly, WI committees will have access from the comfort of their own homes to every document that they will need to run their WI, all in the same place, data secure and paper free. It will save time, money and help save the planet. Adopt your WIs email address at the very least, it is your password to untold treasure!

But it is not expected that this will be achieved overnight. WIs will be offered training, will be able to adopt the system at their leisure, and will still be able to receive paper copies on request. Often fear and apprehension is worse than the thing one is afraid of, so I urge you to embrace Office 365. And remember you are not expected to make this change overnight unless you wish to.

Hands-on training will be provided following best practice —‘I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand’ to quote Confucius. I have already been trained and will subsequently receive further input as secretary of my own WI. I have dabbled a little each day, acquiring new skills along the way. I have certainly found that by working step by step and taking notes as I go, I have quickly become familiar with the system.

Remember, there have been many women key to the history of the computer, from Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), the ‘Prophet of the Computer’ and the ladies of Bletchley Park, through to the many who work in the field of computing today. Let us add our names to this list by participating in the roll-out of the project.

Members of the WI have showed, and always will, their veracity. Let’s tackle Office 365 with that same spirit. I invite you to applaud your many achievements. What have you learned over the last year that you never thought possible? Be proud of it, celebrate it and add your mastery of Office 365 to this list.

And finally, as you enjoy the summer with your family, friends and WI members, take a moment to reflect. “I’ve discovered something better than cake..” [said] the mole… “A hug, it lasts longer.” “Nothing beats kindness” said the horse. “It sits quietly beyond all things.” (Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, The Fox, The Mole and The Horse).

Carol A. Gartrell

Federation Chairman

back to News

Swin July

July’s edition of Surrey WI News now available here

By News

July’s Surrey WI News is now available for you to read online.

This month’s edition includes some inspirational women, Cheese making workshop, Walking Tours in London, Eileen Bowler competition, Wildlife on the verge plus lots more! 

Please click on the following link to view on your phone, tablet or computer via Flipsnack the July edition of Surrey WI News.

If you would like some help accessing the digital version of SWIN, there is now a user guide on how to access the online version, download it and print it. The user guide can be read here.

back to News