Welcome to the lockdown letter that has to start with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” so I will turn it around and we shall do the worst bit first and save the best until the end.
It was a huge sadness to join in a Zoom meeting with all Federation Chairmen / Treasurers last month to be told by Lynne Stubbings that Denman would be closing and sold. For those who have visited in the past, you will have so many fabulous memories of friendship and achievement that you will always hold dear. But the real fact has been that for many years now it has not been able to balance the books and the enforced closure due to Covid 19 has inevitably hastened the closure. We shall of course keep you all updated with what happens as soon as we have the information ourselves.
I am also disappointed in having to tell you that the Board of Trustees have cancelled the Council Meeting due to take place at the RGS in October and also the Christmas Celebration at Hexham Abbey in December as guidelines on indoor meetings of more than 30 people are not expected until at least November at the very earliest. I know that most of you expected this, but it is still upsetting to see yet another date in the diary cancelled for this year and being in the Abbey and not able to sing our hearts out is quite frankly unthinkable.
On with the better news now which has to include the fact that indoor meetings of less than 30 can now go ahead as long as the very strict instructions from National, as well as the ones from the venue that your own WI meets in, are adhered to. It may be a small step, but it is indeed a start and I am already aware of some WI meetings which may go ahead in September.
The Board of Trustees also held their first meeting since March in August and what a huge delight it was to see them all face to face once again and to make a few decisions. At this stage can I remind you that in June your Secretary received a nomination form for the Board for the period 2021 – 2023 and this should be completed and returned to Cresswell House by 2 October 2020. Please remember that whoever you nominate must have been asked and agreed to their name going forward, however, you do not need to contact any of the existing Board members as they have already agreed to accept nomination.
One of the items discussed yesterday was Karen Coleman’s wish to hold a paper cutting class at Cresswell House before the end of the year and full details and application forms will be in the October Newsletter. On the issue of meeting at Cresswell House I am aware that many WIs have book clubs, craft groups etc who have either not met or have managed to meet in members’ gardens. But we are fast approaching the season where sitting outside to discuss a book may not be too inviting. We are therefore happy for any small groups of 10 or less to meet at Cresswell House. We can fulfil all the necessary procedures re sanitising, spacing etc and will happily offer the facility at a reduced rate for a meeting in an afternoon or morning during these restrictive times. If you would like more details, please contact the Office by email or telephone.
Once again, a huge thank you to all members for your continued support and to Presidents, Board members and Advisers for getting as much information and help to everyone as they can. You are all extremely inspiring women and Barbara Kilkenny one of our Vice Chairmen and President of Clousden Hill has taken this to another level by purchasing a face mask in suffragette / WI colours of green, white and purple. The light at the tunnel end is just a little bit brighter, let’s keep it getting brighter still.
Take care and I hope to see some of you soon.

Marj x

Northumberland WI

t: 0191 217 0808


11/12 Brenkley Way
Blezard Business Park, Seaton Burn
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE13 6DS