Speakers' Corner

  • WI aim: to inspire and enlighten
At most Monthly Meetings, a speaker is invited to give a talk or demonstration.  This can be on almost any topic!  The programme is fixed at the beginning of the year (see the Main Programme).
The idea of a speaker dates from the inception of the WI which aimed to provide access to information, and issues of national and international importance, for women in rural environments.  

Past Speakers
A selection of past speakers to give an idea of the types of talks available:

Article about a Members' Night* Speaker - October 2008 (*Members' Nights used to allow the members, rather than the committee, arrange one evening a year.)
Christine Dent - Travel and Conservation:
Wallabies, Whales and Orangutans

At the Members’ Night in October 2008 the surprise guest was Christine Dent, who talked about her recent “gap-year” style volunteering and travel exeriences. 
Christine spent time in Australia and Borneo, with Wallabies, Whales and Orangutans!  It was a tale of three parts and was full of ideas for anyone considering taking time-out and putting it towards a valuable cause.
Wallabies - Australia
First Christine went to Queensland to volunteer with Project Kial.  This is a home for some of the few remaining Bridled Nail-tail Wallabies, which were nearing extinction until the couple who run the project started working towards their preservation.  The project also rescues and rehabilitates injured, ill or orphaned Australian wildlife for release back into the wild.  Among others, it was home to Cling-On the Koala, Pickles the Possum, Wiggles the Wombat and Priscilla, the Wallaby that Christine looked after.

Australian Animals Care & Education Inc (AACE) Project.

Humpback Whales – Australia

The Oceania Project has been conducting research within the Hervey Bay Marine Park for more than a decade.  Hervey Bay is around 300 km north of Brisbane, formed by Fraser Island, just below the Great Barrier Reef, and the south-east coast of Queensland.  On their northwards migration, Humpback Whales travel along the eastern side of Fraser Island, heading towards calm warm waters at the southern and central regions of the Great Barrier Reef.  In early August, the Humpback Whales begin moving south from the Great Barrier Reef region and Hervey Bay offers a natural haven for whales to feed their young calves and prepare before the long trek to Antarctica.

As a volunteer, Christine travelled on the expedition vessel, Moon Dancer, and took part in monitoring the behaviour and migration pattern of these whales.  The whales, many almost as long as the Village Hall, got very close to the boat and Christine had enough time to observe that individual whales have individual patterns of behaviour.  In particular, some of the whales seemed to enjoy having fun, jumping out of the water or lying on their backs and flipping their fins!
The Oceania Project:

Orangutans – Borneo

About a million years ago, orangutans lived throughout much of Asia, from Java in the south, and north to Laos and southern China.  Today they only live in the wild on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Christine travelled to Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesian Borneo.  There the Orangutan Foundation works towards conservation, research, education, with school children and locals regarding different types of jobs and conservation, and eco-tourism.  Borneo has problems with deforestation for palm oil plantations, logging, and also mining (iron ore and gold) which adds mercury into the rivers.  For the past few years, the main target area of the programme has been the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, a Government designated orangutan release site managed by the Foundation.  Projects, worked on by locals and volunteers, have included the construction of guard posts, quarantine and care centres for orangutans, rehabilitating orphan orangutans, building release sites for ex-captive orangutans, marking out boundaries and assisting with reforestation programmes.

In Christine’s team of volunteers there were 12 people, aged 24-51 years.  They took part in tree planting for reforestation, which will take 20 years to re-establish and around 100 years to return to its previous state.  They carried out building work, including rendering and, very importantly, the construction of a toilet block!  A lot of Christine’s trip involved the river, building jetties and travelling along it to the various sites, including Camp Leakey, where the work of the Orangutan Foundation began.  There she met lots of orangutans, who were attracted by the free feeds and the fact many were bought up there as orphans.  The orangutans were very interested in the volunteers and would pinch things that were not carefully looked after.  On trips to the river to wash, everything had to be carefully guarded or the orangutans would join in, eating, washing and blowing bubbles with the shampoo, when not pinching and dressing up in clothes from washing lines!
Kusasi, one of the orangutans Christine met

Other than the orangutans and the food, another moment of note was the final reforestation work near the sea, when everyone slept in hammocks on the beach and woke up to a perfect sea view ….

Orangutan Foundation UK: www.orangutan.org.uk

Ape Alliance: www.4apes.com

Subpages (1): Past Speakers