I am currently ‘on the circuit’. I started a couple of years back speaking at the Shropshire WI annual council’s meeting and that started the ball rolling. Since then I have attended similar events for Staffordshire, Cheshire, Warwickshire, Suffolk West and Derbyshire with Worcestershire and East Sussex booked for next year.
For a speaker the WI are the perfect audience. They are an engaged, interested bunch with a wicked sense of humour. The only downside is that they have many fine speakers amongst their own numbers who can turn the annual budget into a paragraph packed with gags.
The other side of WI that has appeared to me is the muscle. This is a huge organisation (I nearly wrote ‘manned’ for a second)... womanned by well motivated efficient volunteers so when they think that something needs doing they get the bit between their teeth and start making a difference. Raising money, awareness and campaigning is second nature and they get the job done.
The WI is still growing and changing and new groups are starting up all the time. Anyone out there who has been approached to speak or join a meeting should certainly give it a whirl. And if you’ve got knees like mine - wear shorts!