My first Hampshire Council Meeting – Claire Shenton-Taylor

Without the aid of an alarm I am up each day between 5.30 and 6 am. Still you never know there might be the one occasion this does not happen and the 22nd March was too big a risk. So with multiple alarms set and the back-up of a text from my daughter I had it covered.

There was no need to worry and at 8am on a sunny Tuesday morning in Hartley Wintney, I was chatting to a group of lovely ladies from various WI groups prior to alighting on the coach. As we set off there was speculation amongst the group as to the route to be taken as we seemed to be veering off course. It quickly became apparent that the original route had traffic problems. Still we arrived in plenty of time for a comfort break and to suss out good seats in the hall.

During the day both speakers at the event held the attention of their audience. The first speaker, Mandy Hickson, welcomed us into her office and we were transported to the cockpit of a Tornado via video. The second speaker, Lucy Worsley, spoke of Murder. I learnt a lot from both talks and will avoid giving details here in case you should ever be fortunate enough to hear them speak. However, talk of being in a TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves More and Dream It, Believe It, Do It was included and I felt this was important to me as a WI member.

Along with the serious side of business to attend to and buying goodies, there was plenty of opportunity to make new friends both inside the Guildhall and outside on the steps having a picnic lunch.

When I was asked by a WI Gosport member if I knew anyone else in the hall I tried to sound casual and nonchalant by pointing to Penny who was sitting on the stage in her role as a new board member. Yes, I replied the lady wearing the yellow cardigan she belongs to the same WI as me, WI Flyers.

There were many highlights to my day but two in particular stand out. One, singing Jerusalem at the start of the proceedings in the Guildhall full of women was amazing and I had no qualms about joining in having had the training from Alison at one of our club evenings. Two, singing the National Anthem at the close of the meeting. Maureen Levenson, Chairman, said that as it was a special occasion we would sing both verses. Great, I thought, however I did hear gentle sighs of relief around me when the words for the second verse were displayed on the interactive board. The person in charge of music was not prepared for the second verse and so we all belted it out unaccompanied. Even the freckles on my arms were standing on edge.

Back on the coach on the way home we chatted about the day’s events and how exhausted we were beginning to feel now that we had stopped for breath.

It was my first council meeting and I loved every minute. I am definitely looking forward to the next.

Claire Shenton-Taylor

Vice President WI Flyers

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