Well, we know Philosopher is a winner anyway, but have just done an article for the Hastings Observer on behalf of the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) about his winning ways, so thought a Hastings Battleaxe post was needed… Last week Battleaxe had a hectic day at the WI Resolutions Coffee Morning, then went up to London with Philosopher to collect his Outstanding Volunteer award from the WEA. He is Chair of the Hastings, St Leonard’s and Bexhill branch.
Firstly, what is the WEA, you may ask. It is a very old organisation, founded in 1903. Despite its modern-day low profile it is one of the UK’s largest charities and the largest voluntary sector provider of adult education. .
Currently, locally, the WEA is divided into two – a community set-up that runs training and community empowerment projects for the socially and economically disadvantaged, and non-vocational and cultural courses for adults, which is the bit run by a voluntary committee which Philosopher chairs. He was nominated for the award by Judy, one of his fellow committee members.
For Battleaxe, the whole day was a bit hectic. In the morning I had our WI Resolutions Coffee Morning. What’s that? Well, every year the National WI goes through a process of agreeing a short-list of campaign resolutions put forward by members, which all members have to then vote on to agree the campaigns for the current year. We host the coffee morning on behalf of the local Federation, and two of the Resolutions Advisers come to lead a discussion on the short-list with our members and visitors from other WIs. This year we had three on womens’ health – menstrual health, pelvic floors and smear tests, one on local bus services, and two environmental ones.
Personally, I quite like the pelvic floor issue – it is simple, potentially cost free and can be promoted to every woman we come across. The other day I was lying on the sofa watching reruns of ‘Four in a Bed’ on telly and the advert breaks were full of advertisements for leak-proof incontinence underwear… clearly this is a massive probem that women just don’t talk about….. personally I’d recommend Pilates… Oh less of that, back to Philosopher and the WEA.
Arriving in London late afternoon, we walked across to Upper Grosvenor Street, to the flash head office of KPMG, who hosted the event. KPMG, along with Lloyds Bank, are major sponsors of the awards.
As we walked along, the Christmas lights were looking lovely.
Arriving, we plunged into a KPMG-funded wine lake… limitless, free, but with just a few crisps to soak it up. Philosopher managed to abstain, but I did not…. I tell you, the hubbub in that room rapidly rose to deafening levels – given that it was only 5.30, much of the wine encountered empty stomachs…
Full of Inner Fortification, Battleaxe happily basked in Philosopher’s reflected glory… The event was introduced by Ruth Spellman, the current WEA CEO, who looked very glittery and glamorous but disconcertingly like Isabel, one of Battleaxe’s former colleagues at her old consultancy company….
Many of the award winners came from the community side of the WEA – Syrian refugees, people surviving alcohol and drug addiction, domestic abuse etc etc. There was a Turkish woman who had arrived in UK knowing no English. I called across to her ‘Tebrikler!’ which is Congratulations in Turkish. Just as well, in my wine-fogged state, that I got that right – in Turkey I frequently confuse Tebrikler with Tereyagi (pronounced terryah) which is butter…. I’ve had some interesting encounters in grocery stores….
Philosopher’s award was Outstanding Volunteer, Southern Region. He works very hard – quite often tearing his hair out – and well deserves it. He received it from someone from Lloyds Bank.
Unfortunately my photos were not the best – honestly it wasn’t the wine – it was a long way away and the lighting was difficult. He made a good speech saying how he couldn’t have done it on his own etc. – and many of the other receipents then said ‘as Nick said….’ in their speeches, which was nice.
He is very modest about his achievements – this morning I had to dragoon him into posing for another photo for the local paper – the original ones I took at the event were too blurry…
The WEA has an interesting history – see this somewhat convoluted article from Spartacus Educational. The early leaders of the organisation were, on the one hand, accused of ensuring workers stayed safely in the class they had been born into, and on the other, of fomenting revolutionary communism. I don’t know where the modern organisation would fit along that continuum…..