It is three years since I took on the presidency of the local Women's Institute, and I said at the outset I would not serve any longer. Three years is enough. Year 1 is a learning process, year 2 is enjoyable, year 3 is a chore and a worry. It has always been the case in all walks of life that as time moves on the top of the tree becomes more tiresome than enjoyable.
I’ve done it all now so it’s time to give it a rest. I’ve done the Federation Chairman bit, which involved being head of a large county area, and being President of my local branch. I can do no more and I need a break.
Don’t get me wrong, I shall still be a member but it would be good to sit back and watch others at work.
Like many organisations falling membership hit home. My institute is elderly; we have been around since 1932. Modern women work during the day so there’s little chance of luring them to monthly afternoon events. One or two retirees have joined but they don’t want the responsibility of an officer’s job. They just want to meet friends and listen to a good speaker.
Speakers these days don’t like to do it for free. Some charge £60 to £100 to give an hour’s talk, on top of which we had bills to pay. Owning the hall meant we must pay rates, gas and electric bills on top of speaker fees, repairs, decorators. plumbers, and more, so less fees coming in means we just can’t cope.
I said at the outset that I would only serve for the recommended three years and that time passed quickly. I faced the Annual General Meeting with determination to keep the promise I made to myself and others. Yes, it was time to elect a new president. Not one hand went up. It meant only one thing…. closure. Obviously, nobody cared about the institute.
Should I feel guilty? Well, I don’t. What I feel is huge relief.
My involvement will continue, helping others to dispose of a hall that was a gift from the parents of a WI member all those years ago. It may be an easier job than we thought, but then again it might not.
I have made plans to join another local institute in the New Year, one where I can sit and listen and make new friends. I won’t be alone, others will do the same. I think I’ve gained something, don’t you?