As the Inner Wheel year draws to a close it is time to reflect. At the beginning of the year with Covid restrictions still in place we were meeting on Zoom. That all changed in November 2021 when we met at the home of one of our members for an interesting talk from Rotary President Subodh on his trip to the Himalayas followed by a delicious Pot Luck Supper – we never seem to fail at providing a well-balanced meal without even discussing what each members is making! It was wonderful to have a ‘live’ speaker after so many months of being on Zoom but better still was the seeing of each other and the chatter!
In February 2022 we ventured out to find a replacement for our previous meeting venue which sadly had closed following the pandemic. Finding a similar meeting venue is not going to be easy when we have been used to a private room, waitress service and good food but I am sure we will get there in the end! Nevertheless, in the meantime meeting in various pubs has allowed us to continue to enjoy Inner Wheel friendship and fellowship.
In March we had a wonderful visit to Riding for the Disabled based at Stourport Riding School. There were children of all ages with many disabilities taking part in the riding classes. It was amazing to see the youngsters master balance, horsemanship and jumping – all of which improve their physical ability and confidence. Parents watching on the side lines were full of praise for the skills of the voluntary teachers and helpers – another charity our Club has supported over the years.
April and May have seen members enjoy the District International Rally with speakers from the Association of Inner Wheel and Project Gambia, and also club Fellowships with speakers talking on Mary Quant and the broadcasting of the Proms.
In June we will be supporting our Rotary Club at their annual Dragon Boat Race on Edgbaston Reservoir. We will be cheering on the team from Breast Friends Solihull, one of our previous charities. And finally following on from our AGM in June we look forward to a new Club President and a new Inner Wheel Year.
Presentation of Margarette Golding Award
Lyn received the award in recognition of her involvement with the management of Birmingham Crisis Centre for over thirty years, providing a safe place for women and children suffering domestic abuse.
Because Lyn's husband John was not well, Lyn invited members of our club, family and friends to her home for afternoon tea, which was laid out in her lovely garden.
In 1981 John realised that Birmingham desperately needed a safe place for women and children suffering from domestic abuse, and after a temporary venue was found for the original refuge, John undertook the huge challenge of getting a purpose built Centre, which was opened by Princess Anne in 1987. It is staffed 24/7 and has 24 units for mothers and children, a nursery, communal areas, and a laundry. Practical and emotional support is given and legal advice is available. The staff continue to support families when they move into their independent accommodation.
From the very beginning Lyn gave John her full support, and they both gave their time voluntarily to ensure the success of this demanding undertaking . Lyn was also working part time as a physiotherapist and caring for their three young sons, the youngest with special needs. She has continued her involvement with the management of the Centre ever since. She is a warm, caring and determined lady and very modest about her enormous contribution to the success of the Centre.
Lyn was truly touched to receive this award and said she would display the framed certificate at Birmingham Crisis Centre. Some years ago John had received an MBE for his involvement with the project, but as Lyn said, many people receive an MBE, but only nine people internationally have received a Margarette Golding Award this year!
As our usual meeting venue remains closed following the lockdown, we held our first meeting of the year in President Janet’s garden enjoying yet more tea and cake whilst discussing our plans for the year ahead. We will continue to support Birmingham Crisis Centre (a women’s refuge) which sadly during the pandemic has seen an increased demand for its services, in addition to The Gambia School Appeal and Birmingham City Church Food Bank.
We are looking forward to visiting Blakeley Hall, a grade II* listed building and one of the oldest in Birmingham. It will be another opportunity to socialise to make up for the times we didn’t meet during the pandemic.
The global pandemic may have changed our lives including the way we currently run our Club meetings, but we have all kept in touch with each other which is a true testament to Inner Wheel fellowship and friendship. We have become accustomed to meeting via Zoom which has not stopped us from enjoying interesting and varied speakers including Katherine Dobson, Association Historian who spoke on the life of Margarette Golding; Past Association President, Pam McConnell talking about her Gambia project; Lyn Ankcorn, Trustee of Birmingham Crisis Centre who spoke on the amazing and essential work of the Centre; and still to come Edgar Harwood who will speak on his experiences as a Town Cryer and toastmaster.
When guidelines have permitted, we have met in small groups outdoors. On a beautiful autumn day last September, a small group of members ventured out to Selly Manor Museum in Bournville where we were rewarded with a wonderful tour of the house and insight into the work of George and Richard Cadbury.
At Christmas time with members living in two different pandemic tiers, we split into two groups with one group meeting at Hanbury Hall and the other at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It was not quite the Christmas dinner we had planned but it was good to be in each other’s company despite the social distancing.
Whilst fundraising events have largely been put on hold, we have nevertheless continued to raise funds through our P-O-U-N-D-S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-R activities which have included cake baking, plant selling, card making and donating monies in lieu of hair cuts and manicures, and eating out. The knitting needles have been busy too with beautiful, coloured blankets knitted for international charities.
The highlight of the year has been our 35th Fellowship Birthday. We had hoped to have a live event, but circumstances put paid to our plans. But not to be deterred we had a wonderful ‘party’ on Zoom with distinguished guests including IIW National Representative and Immediate Past Association President, Ann Acaster; Past District 6 Chairman Shirley Janes, who presented our Charter in 1985; District 6 Chairman Margaret Nosowaska; and Lyn Ankcorn, Trustee of Birmingham Crisis Centre. The ‘party’ included a trip down memory lane with members recalling the many highlights of the Club’s 35 years. The afternoon concluded with the presentation of the prestigious Margarette Golding Award from the Club to Lyn Ankcorn for her outstanding contribution to Birmingham Crisis Centre, which plays a vital role in providing a safe haven for women and children of domestic abuse which sadly has been on the rise during the pandemic. The Club has supported the Centre for many years and looks forward to continuing with this. As the lockdown eases, we look forward to seeing each other again and holding live events.
The ladies of the Inner Wheel Club of Edgbaston Convention (and a few partners) visited the Kidderminster Carpet Museum on one of the hottest days of the year where they heard all about the history of carpets including demonstrations of original hand and mechanically operated looms. One loom was set up to weave a cheerful chintz pattern which was achieved by the most labour intensive set up – 288 individual bobbins had to be wound with the wools and each row in the repeat was made using an individual bobbin. Altogether a fascinating visit!
After the visit, a socially distanced picnic was enjoyed on Hartlebury Common in the shade of trees. It was good to be together for real as opposed to Zoom.
Sponsored Hair Shave!
President Chris has had her gorgeous hair shaved off in a sponsored hair shave, raising a fantastic £2,600+ towards the fund for her charity Breast Friends Solihull, to which the Club has also made a £1,000+ contribution. We were able to watch the ‘shave’ live on Facebook. An inspirational lady, Chris also featured on her local radio station and in the newspapers in Barbados!
Some of our members attended the District Rally in October where they heard all about the wonderful work of the District Chairman’s charities Women’s Refuge, and Breast Care Haven, in addition to the Association President’s charity Riding for the Disabled. Club President Chris has chosen Breast Friends Solihull as her charity for the year and we were pleased to welcome their Chairman to our October meeting when she told us all about the charity which is entirely supported and run by volunteers, many of whom have been diagnosed with breast cancer. We will be making a donation to their much-needed funds at the end of the year.
We also continue to support the Birmingham Central Food Bank – our on-going community project; and the Birmingham Crisis Centre.
We are looking forward to a theatre visit later in November and our Christmas Lunch. And in June 2020 we will be donning hats to attend an alternative Ascot Day – sounds like a lot of fun!
If you would like to join us, you can be assured of a very warm welcome.
President Diane’s year got off to a ‘hot’ start in July when members joined Rotary for a visit to David’s Garden at Martin Hussingtree, near Droitwich. It was a scorcher of a day so after a walk around the beautiful colourful garden we retreated to the welcome shade and a cream tea.
We have also been updated by a member on her involvement with Riding for the Disabled.
September saw us again, on another warm day, at the annual Rotary Country Music Extravaganza at Birmingham Botanical Garden where we had two stalls – one selling home-made cakes and the other jams, pickles and garden produce. It was a very successful day raising funds for our charities whilst enjoying good fellowship.
District Chairman Sylvia has selected Rugby Womens Refuge as her charity
The National President, Betty Roberts, has chosen The Stroke Association for her charity.