Q&A: President of The Brentwood Belles Women’s Institute Jane Miles
PUBLISHED: 14:27 05 June 2019
Almost a decade since she first joined, president Jane Miles reveals why she still loves the “camaraderie” of being a belle.
How long have you been a member of TBBWI (The Brentwood Belles Women's Institute)?
Since it started in late 2010 so nearly nine years. I was one of the founding committee members.
What made you initially interested/want to join?
I loved the idea of a group of women getting together to not only learn new skills and make new friends, but to also have the chance to make a difference through the various campaigns we take part in.
When did you become the president and what does your role involve?
I was first president from 2012 for two years and I am three years into another stint, so about six in total.
It's a wide and varied role that includes overseeing the group (of 120 members) and working with an excellent and invaluable committee who work hard to provide a wide range of activities and interesting meetings.
I lead monthly meetings to keep us focused on being innovative and membership-focused.
What do you like about being part of the WI?
I love the camaraderie and have made some really good friends through TBBWI.
I enjoy providing a safe and fun monthly meeting place.
It's provided me with the chance to get involved on a regional level as I am part of the Essex Federation media team and their webmaster and photographer at major regional events.
It's important to me as I have two autistic children and so am based at home. The WI gives me the chance to not only have a social life, but to also develop my skills.
What have been your highlights since joining?
Getting to meet and photograph people as varied as Anton Du Beke to Helen Pankhurst for Essex Federation.
Locally though, it would be our amazing 100 Challenges for the Essex Centenary year where the members spent a year completing a total of 100 challengers from learning to swim, to having a gong bath, to learning to wing walk!
Another would be the development of our many sub-groups to really allow ladies the chance to find new interest, learn new skills, and most importantly make new friends and be part of a community.
I was also given the chance to give a speech, based on my personal experiences, on why Mental Health Matters (the latest national campaign) and how we support that as WI's and individuals, to 1,000 women at the recent Essex Annual Meeting.
That probably is my biggest highlight to date.
If someone was thinking about becoming a member, what can they expect?
There are 11 monthly meetings a year with a friendly and fun group of ladies aged from 25-75.
Meetings offer a range of activities and speakers and also our unusual monthly challenges.
They can take part in up to 14 sub-groups and online groups from our Arrowbelles darts teams to our Happy Hookers knitting and crochet group.
What do you think makes TBBWI special?
How we adapt and look for innovative ways to meet our members needs.-