Update on Tuesday, February 23: So many people have expressed an interest in attending a WI exploratory meeting in Uckfield that a new meeting date and venue have been chosen to accommodate them.
One hundred and fifteen people have said they would like to attend the meeting and a further 225 have said they are interested in learning more about the new group.
Organiser Leasa Buhlman said the original venue wouldn’t have been able to accommodate the numbers and so a new date and place have been chosen.
The meeting to gauge interest in the idea of a new WI will now take place on Tuesday, March 1, in the Weald Hall at Uckfield Civic Centre with doors opening at 7.30pm and the meeting starting at 8pm.
Leasa said: “I’m sorry for the short notice but moving the date seemed preferable to turning anyone away.”
From our original story on Friday, February 19: Plans are under way to launch a new and modern WI group in Uckfield.
Mother-of-two Leasa Buhlman, aged 40, is behind the idea. She sees it as a great vehicle for women to get to know each other in the town.
Leasa, who lives in Uckfield, also likes the creative element of the WI: “I often take my children strawberry picking so I’d like to learn how to make a decent jam, but there would definitely be no singing of Jerusalem.”
All women – including those who are already members of other groups – would be welcome to join and attend meetings which will be held monthly on a weekday evening.
She admires the WI’s feminist history, from campaigning for national minimum wage to more having more midwives,and has been inspired by publicity surrounding other new groups springing up around the country which have attracted huge followings.
Those groups include the Brighton Belles, Heffle at Heathfield, and Wells Angels at Tunbridge Wells.
Leasa didn’t know yet what the new Uckfield group would be called but said The Uckfield and Surrounding Villages WI was a functional name to get the group started. She plans to open it up to potential members to offer suggestions.
An experienced WI advisor will speak at the meeting on March 1 and there will be the chance for people to share their ideas for the future.
Leasa says the new group would be for women to share skills, meet new people, and to support each other and the local community.
She added: “Whilst it is a modern group with a new generation of members we will still have the same ethos as a traditional WI group.”
She envisages that each month there will be a different activity planned such as cooking, gin tasting, photography and alternative therapies. “It’s a chance to get together for a coffee or a glass of wine and socialise, but most of all it’s to have some fun,” she said.
Leasa is delighted that within a few days of setting up a Facebook page about the new WI group, 74 people had signed up to go to the exploratory meeting. A further 145 people said they were interested in learning more about the new group.
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