Our Committee

This group of ladies keep the organisation going, from processing memberships and payments to organising each monthly event. Thame Belles wouldn't happen without them. We currently have nine committee members. If you'd like to join the committee just get in touch.

Sarah Griffey

PRESIDENT

What do you do on the committee? 

I am Thame Belles' newly minted president following on from Jane Hornby, our past president and founder of Thame Belles WI.  Jane set the tone and style for a modern, inclusive, fun and action-oriented WI which drew me to this WI in the first place!  I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to work with all of you to take Thame Belles on the next leg of its journey.  My formal role is to chair the meetings, committee meetings, agree the agenda and minutes. I'm here to coordinate the elements of the WI, represent our WI at community events and in the media, and be a point of contact for anyone who wants to join or ask questions about our WI.

Jane's on the left of the picture and I am on the right.

What made you want to join the WI?

 I really wanted to meet women in a social context. My work in the aerospace industry is very male-dominated.

What is your favourite place in Thame? 

The James Figg

What's your favourite book? 

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. I absolutely love a thriller and this novel has really stood the test of time. Those haunting opening lines. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” still send shivers..

What do you do outside the WI? 

I work in an aerospace consultancy focusing on deep space exploration. I am also this year’s chair of Tetsworth Village Fete; I’m trying to improve my sewing, knitting and crochet projects, with varying degrees of success. Occasional hopeful visits to the gym. Belong to the wonderful Belles Book Club. Visit the Ashmolean in Oxford whenever there’s a great exhibition. Walk in the country when it’s not pouring with rain. Chat to people in the street. Nice happy stuff.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? 

Always go forward, never go back. 

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

A  trapeze artist!

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Broccoli with chilli flakes. And a glass of champagne. 

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?  

To the Summer of 1915, to shadow Vera Brittain as she works as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse

What has surprised you most about the WI? 

Its desire to improve the lot of women across all communities.  That it still has a popular appeal to all age groups and outlooks.

Who do you think is a good role model for women today? 

That’s a tough one. Angelina Jolie. She’s lived a full life, seems to put her family first; addresses uncomfortable yet important issues affecting women who have no official voice.   

What was the last movie you watched? What did you think? 

Does Series II of The Crown, count?! The best dramatization I’ve ever seen about the Royal Family. Fascinating insights into our country’s history.

Jane Hornby

VICE PRESIDENT

What do you do on the committee?
I'm the  Vice President. Along with the team, I set the tone of our WI and put together ideas for the sessions. We want our members to be inspired and inspiring, enabled, motivated, and be able to learn new skills together whilst having a good time!
What made you want to join the WI? 
My parents were in the Round Table and Ladies' Circle when I was young, and I saw what great fun and friendship this brought them (and still does). I'm the kind of person that likes to belong to something - and the WI's values and traditions fit with mine. Moving from London three years ago was the spur really, as I was keen to make friends and become more involved in the community. I met Kelly at Denman, we hatched a plan and here we are.
How do you spend your time outside the WI?
Mostly in the kitchen. I'm a cookery writer and food stylist which means that I develop recipes at home for all sorts of food clients, mainly magazines, and then make the food look pretty behind the camera somewhere in a studio in London. I also write and edit cook books.
What is your favourite book? 
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt 
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
A cheeseboard with amazing bread and pickles. Or proper ragu pasta. Both with red wine!
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to? 
I love deco style, so some point in the Thirties perhaps.
Val Symonds

TREASURER

What do you do on the committee?

I am the Treasurer which means I am responsible for dealing with all our financial transactions and

the accounting processes. 

What made you want to join the WI?

I had recently stopped full time work and was looking for new interests, to meet people and become

more involved with local Thame community

What is your favourite place in Thame?

Before lockdown - Thame’s pubs, cafes and local shops. Post lockdown - the countryside behind the

Rugby Club where we have spent many hours enjoying the local walks

What's your favourite book?

No real favourite - I just like to read

What do you do outside the WI?

I’m a volunteer and Trustee at the Thame Senior Friendship Club (formerly Thame Day Centre), love

to travel, cook and visit family and friends

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?

Always look for the positives and treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

An Air Hostess - clearly before the days of Easyjet and Ryanair!

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Probably Shepherd’s Pie made with slow roasted lamb

What has surprised you most about the WI?

How different in character the local WI Groups seem to be. I had always thought it was a club for

older ladies who liked to sit and sew or knit whilst drinking tea.

Do you collect anything?

Those that know me well would say handbags, shoes and scarves

Sarah Meier

SECRETARY

What do you do on the committee? 
I am the secretary. Which means I work closley with the President and, like her, deal with the WI's consitution and rules. I share responsibility for the general arrangement of meetings and the smooth conduct of WI business. I write agendas and take minutes at comittee meetings.
What made you want to join the WI? 
Friendship, activities, recently gave up permanent job as nurse practitioner so wanted something to keep my mind active.
How do you spend your time outside the WI? 
Looking after my 2 daughters and taking them to various activities. Crochet, knitting, cooking, containing husband's enthusiasm.
Where is your favourite place in Thame? 
I like the outdoor spaces and variety of parks, go to the quiz at the Cross Keys most weeks, and enjoy wandering round the town centre.
What was the last movie you watched? What did you think? 
The 100 Foot Journey. It was really refreshing and heat warming. A real feel good film for all ages.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
A teacher or an orchestra member.

What do you do on the committee? 

I look after the database for members details and all the associated admin with that. I work closely with Treasurer Val to make sure our membership details and financial details all match!

What made you want to join the WI?

It was on my list of things to do when I retired.

What is your favourite place in Thame? 

Southern Road Rec  - it’s local to my home and my family and their families have spent many happy times there.

What's your favourite book? 

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy is my current favourite. I was given this for my birthday it’s a wonderful book filled with love and kindness.

What do you do outside the WI?

 I’m retired but enjoy spending time with my family, baking, gardening, walking the dog, trying new gins and DanceFit.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I dreamed of being Cabin Crew or at least working at an airport - I still love airports!

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sunday Roast Beef dinner with all the trimmings followed by blackberry and apple crumble with ice cream - yummy.

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to? 

1969 - the year I was 16 - when I discovered a whole new and changing world out there.

What has surprised you most about the WI? 

The amazing mix of ladies and their hidden talents.

Who do you think is a good role model for women today? 

Michelle Obama.

What was the last book you read? What did you think?

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. A newly discovered author and genre for me but I’m really enjoying the mystical and sometimes dark  story telling.

What was the last movie you watched? What did you think? 

The Lady in the Van on TV - the story of a true British eccentric which made me smile.  Dame Maggie Smith was brilliant.

Do you collect anything?

Happy memories and photos.

What’s one of your ambitions in life?

To visit the Scilly Islands

Peta King

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY

Mairi Lovatt-Smith

PROGRAMME
& COMMUNICATIONS

What do you do on the committee? 
I do some of the programme organising and a lot of the newsletters and web tinkering!
What made you want to join the WI? 
When I moved to Thame I wanted to make some friends that weren't just 'mum' friends, and this WI had just started up, so it all came together nicely! 
How do you spend your time outside the WI? 
Wrangling a small boy with all its concomitant commitments, working, crocheting, reading and baking. And researching people to come and entertain and educate our members!
What's your favourite book? 
Oh lord, I can't answer that! Too many to choose and changes with how I'm feeling! I'm currently bowled over by The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, time travelling historians, brilliant writing, sublime stuff.
What's the most important lesson life has taught you? 
Procrastination is not your friend, tempting though it may seem
Who do you think is a good role model for women today? 
I think someone like Kate Winslet, a very talented lady who hasn't allowed negative criticism to change her, she seems like someone who knows who she is and isn't going to allow others to dictate her life.
What did you want to be when you were a child? 
A pathologist.....no really! I was keen on the idea of being a doctor but I didn't think I'd be very good at putting up with people. I was a slightly dark child. 
What do you do on the committee? 
I assist my fellow committee members to ensure our meetings run smoothly. I'm also in charge of the refreshment budget so make sure we are fully stocked with tea and coffee! I have recently taken on the role of resolutions champion to try to get our members better informed and enthused about them.
What made you want to join the WI? 
I wanted to be a part of something that was time for me, so I could be just Debs
How do you spend your time outside the WI? 
I am part of a book club and at the moment I am busy looking after my baby boy
What's your favourite book? 
I don't really have a favourite book but I have read some fantastic books this year. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh a great thriller with lots of twists and Philomena by Martin Sixsmith a true story about a mother who gave up her son but never stopped looking for him. Her son also looked for her. Both brilliant reads I couldn't put them down!
What's the most important lesson life has taught you? 
Never look back - onwards and upwards!
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
Christmas dinner - roast turkey with all the trimmings and cranberry sauce followed by Christmas pudding with lots of double cream - yummy!
Deborah Laxton

RESOLUTIONS CHAMPION & VICE PRESIDENT

What do you do on the committee? 

As a general committee member I help out with whatever needs doing. This can be idea generation in our planning sessions, set up at the start of our meetings in the Town Hall or selling raffle tickets during the break!

What made you want to join the WI?

When I moved to Thame, I didn’t know anyone in the area. I joined Thame Belles to meet some new friends and understand more about my new home town.

What is your favourite place in Thame? 

On a sunny evening, I love to sit under the big tree in the centre of Elm Park to read my book.

What's your favourite book? 

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. This book had such an impact on my teenage years. I still own the same copy that was passed around my whole class (though it looks a little battered now!).

What do you do outside the WI? 

I studied Geology at university and now manage a team of geologists who create models to understand how the planet looked back through time.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? 

To never assume anything!

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

An airhostess. I think I had the most reasonable career aspirations of my siblings - my sister wanted to be a princess and my brother a knight!

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I love food so it would break my heart to only eat one thing, but I think I would have to choose cereal. It is a staple of my diet and totally appropriate for any time of day!

Emily Firth

IDEAS GENERATION & SOCIAL MEDIA CHAMPION

Rachel Kirtland

Stay tuned for some fascinating facts and anecdotes from our lovely Rachel.

CHARITY EVENTS ORGANISER

© 2020 by Thame Belles. 

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