Following on from Cardiff Conference, Vice President Elaine was moved to put pen to paper to share her experience and encourage anyone who either hasn’t been, or been for a while to join her in Belfast next year. This is her 2019 Conference Report.
Who are we and what is Inner Wheel?
I am often asked this question. Having attended the National Conference of the Inner Wheel Clubs of Great Britain and Ireland this week, I have seen the aims of Inner Wheel at their best.
Over 1700 ladies from all over the world met in Cardiff to celebrate the 95year of this great organisation as well as to hold their Annual General Meeting.
Fun, Friendship and Service
This was in abundance as we met old and new friends in the House of Friendship, on the first day. The atmosphere was electric with anticipation of what the next few days would bring. Chatter and laughter were all around us.
Our Association President Ann lit the friendship candle and declared the conference open. She thanked all the members present for making the effort to attend. In her opening remarks she was very motivational about us moving forward as an organisation and us embracing change and technology. She reminded us that the thread that always ran through Inner Wheel was, Friendship, Kindness and Respect.
We were then treated to a celebration of service and friendship led by the very Popular Rev’d Kate Bottley of TV fame, who happens to live within district 22 area (and yes, she has been asked if she would like to join Inner Wheel)
With the hymns, readings and address all centering on service and friendship. Kate led the service in a lovely way, being very upbeat and leaving us with a buzz and the feel-good factor.
After the service we were welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff and then Kate Bottley was her first guest speaker.
Kate was very entertaining and had her audience enthralled all the way through.
Kate was followed by Chris Kirby from Australia who is president of International Inner Wheel. With a very inspirational speech, she acknowledged our founder Margarette Golding and spoke to us about, friendship, community service and International understanding.
She said at times it appeared that Inner Wheel was a best kept secret and we needed to look, learn and listen. Look for new members, learn the needs of the organisation and how and why we evolve and listen to the needs of members and clubs, which will be different for all of us and accept change to move the organisation forward for our daughters and granddaughters.
The future of Inner Wheel is ours to shape.
Our next guest speaker should have been Esther Rantzen unfortunately she was ill and a very capable Inner Wheel member who is also a trustee of Silverline stepped in at the last minute and gave us a very informative talk about Silverline stating that there was 1.2 million chronically lonely people that need support. Silverline makes weekly friendship calls and works to alleviate loneliness.
In the afternoon Association President Ann presented a cheque to Lesley Schatzberger the founder of ‘Jessies Fund’, who had given us an insight of how the fund was set up and the good works it does in memory of her daughter who passed away at the age of nine.
This cheque brought the total to over £10,000 that has been donated with more to follow before the end of this Inner Wheel year.
Our last speaker of the day was a very inspirational and entertaining young man, Ed Pratt, who set off alone at the age of 19 with the aim of becoming the first person to ride a unicycle around the world. Three and a half years later he arrived home, having learned a lot about himself and having achieved his goal. Along the way he raised over £300,000 for the ‘School in a Bag’ charity.
The conference day was ended with the children’s choir ‘Cor y Cwm’
The evening entertainment was Andrew Grisewood who is an internationally acclaimed Floral Designer. He wowed his audience with his beautiful creations and stories about his life. The displays were than raffled off, with some very happy ladies going home.
The following day commenced with the AGM and some lively debates as we worked through the proposals and general motions. I felt very honoured to be Warsop’s voting delegate and to be able to be part of it. There were some excellent reports from the members of the executive committee bringing us up to date with all things Inner Wheel.
Once the business was over it was back to what we do best, hearing about fundraising achievements and enjoying ourselves. A cheque for £7,792 was presented to a representative from ‘Hope and Homes for Children’ from the Celebration service collection we had held the previous day. We heard how the representative had herself been a beneficiary of the charity and there were not many dry eyes by the time she had finished speaking.
It was then time for our final speaker Rainer Hersch who is a British conductor, actor, writer and comedian, he was joined by some friends. They gave us a musical extravaganza with many of his audience have a good singalong with him.
There was a definite feel good factor as President Ann closed this year’s conference.
The final nights entertainment had us returning to the Arena for a show by the amazing ‘Blue Brothers’. This was a sight to behold with over 1000 ladies dressed as: dressy for Jessy with a hint of pink. From the moment the band started we were up on our feet and the dance floor was never empty until they waved their final goodbye.
People ask did I enjoy conference? Yes I did, I had so much fun and laughter during the week.
Did I see lots of friendship? Yes I did, I saw many people that I had met at previous conferences and made new friends as well as being with my own club and district members whose company I always enjoy.
Did I see evidence of Service? I was overwhelmed by how much the Inner Wheel Clubs of Great Britain and Ireland do, during the conference we heard that during the last Inner Wheel year collectively we raised over a million pounds for worthwhile causes big and small, home and abroad. As well as putting in many volunteering hours for numerous organisations during the year. It is apparent that Inner Wheel ladies give a lot of their self and are very special ladies of all ages and from all backgrounds.
I came home very tired but full of motivation for the next Inner Wheel year, to spread the word and help to move our fantastic organisation forward. I am very proud to be an Inner Wheel member and I am already looking forward to Belfast next year.
Elaine. Vice President of Warsop Inner Wheel and District 22 Treasurer.