2020, what a year….!

Perhaps the nicest thing we can say about 2020 is that it was a strange old year. A year when days, weeks and months blurred into one. We sought reassurance that we were all in this together and did all that we could to keep our spirits up through challenging times. Despite being unable to meet face to face, the wonders of Zoom allowed us to get together, learn and have fun in ways we would never have imagined this time last year! Check out our year in photos in our Photo Gallery.


2020 started off so well with our January and February meetings taking place in the hall. In January, over a hot drink or a glass of wine (ah, those were the days!) we created sustainable name badges to wear at our WI meetings, which many of you had wanted to do for some time. We hope you can remember where you’ve put your name badge for when we get back in the hall! It seems so long ago now but also in January, 24 members went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Theatre Royal. We loved the diva attitude, fabulous evening!


February’s activity was steel drumming and we welcomed Nicola Coker of Pure Steel Band to give us a ‘bash’ on her drums! Just the thought of ‘Tequila!’ (no, not the alcoholic drink but the Mexican-flavoured song) gets our toes tapping and brings a smile to the face. Happy memories.


Then suddenly the world as we knew it changed. Lockdown meant we had to put our planned programme of activities for 2020 on hold. Little did we know it then, but we were restricted to meeting online for the rest of the year. Like so many people, we embraced Zoom and the Committee grappled with creating online meetings and ways to keep us together but apart…….


Just as lockdown broke back in March, we had to quickly think ‘outside of the box’. Our very own Laura Williams from OrganisedWell came to our rescue and shared some online resources for us all to watch and learn on the theme of Decluttering for Spring. We then had a fabulous Q&A session live via Facebook. We really have no excuse for not sorting out our drawers and cupboards! It was also our birthday in March - happy 3rd birthday to us! Hopefully we can share cake and fizz soon.


In April, Jo Porter from Kitchen Dancing led us through a 1980's dance routine. We got our leg warmers and neon on to learn a simple dance routine to a classic track. You can keep dancing and join one of Jo’s online dance classes. Details on the Kitchen Dancing website. Also in April, we launched the Beeston WI website! A lot of work went into getting it up and running and that work continues as the Committee maintain it each month. We know it’s not perfect but we’re proud of the way it highlights who we are and what we do.


In May, we set members the challenge of becoming a Dementia Friend. A Dementia Friend is somebody that learns about dementia so they can help their community. Dementia Friends help people living with dementia by taking actions - both big and small. It’s quick and easy to do but really raises your awareness and understanding. And you get a Dementia Friend badge! We’ve been joined by new members since May, maybe more of us could pledge to make a difference? The Committee were out and about in June making special deliveries. It was lovely to chat to some of you when we delivered our 'forget-me-not' gifts. We also held our first Quiz Night using Kahoot. The fun, women themed rounds offered a series of multiple-choice questions where we were up against the clock as well as each other. Our quiz queens were Rose, Kathy, Victoria (x2!), Liz, Helen (x2!), Amy, Helen and Carmel. 2020 was all about online quizzes and we enjoyed more quiz nights organised by The Hive.


For our July meeting, we welcomed our first online guest speaker, Dr Charlie Davis from the University of Nottingham. The theme was Digital Storytelling and Charlie explored the potential for technologies to bring people together to share life stories. You can read all about it in this blog post.


There was lots of lively discussion about what lockdown has meant to us. In the Spring, some members captured their experience in a series of blog posts. It was wonderful to read real stories and emotions to build up a fascinating archive of how life has really been. How does it make you feel reading these now that several months have passed? Why not tell us in a blog post!


As with other years, we didn’t meet in August so by our September meeting we were ready for an energetic discussion about how our brain is organised and wired with Dr Harriet Allen, Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Nottingham. We discussed the effects of ageing on the brain and Harriet demonstrated (at one point with toothpicks!) how advancing years affect our behaviour, memory, attention and perception. Interesting stuff!


In October, Stella Claxton from the School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University opened our eyes to the real cost of fast fashion. Stella revealed the truth behind the stylish bargain, the catastrophic environmental impact of cheap goods. We came away inspired to make more sustainable clothing choices, extend the life of what’s already in our wardrobes and embrace pre-loved. If you’ve changed your shopping habits, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below! After the meeting, in the spirit of eliminating fast fashion, we ran a virtual ‘swish’. Members grabbed something new and had a cheeky doorstep chat while they made the exchange!


Back by popular demand, Beeston WI Quiz Night returned in November. You enthusiastically dressed up and joined in with the jokes, dingbats and Sallyanne’s fantastic traditional boardgames round. Helen, Carmel, Rachel Susanna and Liz were the lucky winners of some chocs and fizz – well done ladies!


In December, the Committee really enjoyed more doorstep chats with many of you as we delivered goodie bags in time for our Christmas meeting. In our kitchens, we discovered the joys of homemade marzipan in the Great Beeston WI Bake Along with the wonderful Frances Quinn . How lucky were we to learn from a Great British Bake Off winner! Frances showed us how to make her signature bake Marzipan Bees and shared other festive marzipan delights – cheese and pickle sandwich anyone? We shared a Christmas cocktail while Frances answered some of our baking quandaries. We should have had another quiz - guess how many marzipan bees were made in Beeston that night?!


And that’s not all we got up to in 2020…..!


In addition to our monthly meetings, book group continued to meet online (and on one occasion, socially distanced in a garden!) We’ve also kept in touch via our Facebook group where it’s been fabulous to share your many acts of kindness despite the difficult circumstances – such as handing out flowers for World Kindness Day, creating sympathy hearts and knitting blankets for QMC and Hayward House, collecting clothing for Operation Orphan and donating toiletries to Tara’s Angels.


Thank you so much to all of our members for making 2020 that little bit easier. Please join us on January 27th 2021 to start it all again!


Here’s hoping we can get together again soon. Keep safe.

Beeston WI Committee xx



P.S. Remember that the WI Federation gave us a three month extension to the 2020 subscription, meaning that there’s no need to renew your membership until 1st April 2021. Happy New Year!




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