WI Talk, October 16, 2014

'Reach For The Skies' was a compelling and dynamic presentation at the annual council meeting at the Hall for Cornwall, by Mandy Hickson, a former frontline pilot with a Tornado squadron, the only female pilot.


From The Cornishman

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'Reach For The Skies' was a compelling and dynamic presentation at the annual council meeting at the Hall for Cornwall, by Mandy Hickson, a former frontline pilot with a Tornado squadron, the only female pilot.

Flying multi-million pound fast jets for the Royal Air Force as a flight lieutenant she has operated in hostile environments including patrolling the 'no-fly' zone over Iraq.

Carrying the latest weaponry she and her unit were ready to drop ordnance on any target in support of operation .

Despite her prowess in the skies, her early route to the top was tumultuous having many setbacks but, undeterred, her self-belief and dogged determination persuaded the RAF to take her on as a test case.

Mandy relates her experiences of working within an elite group of fast-jet operators to audiences with great clarity, outlining that the same values apply within any environment. She demonstrated the importance of remaining calm under pressure and leading  quite literally from the front in order to get the best from her and her team. Working as a team in any situation is vital.

Members were enthralled and captivated with her references and comparisons to life in the WI. As a trained 'human factors facilitator' with the Civil Aviation Authority, Mandy uses her in-depth knowledge of aviation and calculated risk taking, decision making under pressure and the critical role of the human in the system to transfer  these lessons from the cockpit to the boardroom, ie the WI meeting.

For those of us with long memories, we can associate the same aerial passion that was displayed in the 1956 film Reach For The Sky with Kenneth Moore playing the inspirational Douglas Bader.

WI members admire people who inspire others; for example in the NFWI Inspiring Women Working Together Conference and now we had had the opportunity to hear the professional and jocular presentation by Mandy Hickson as she held her audience captivated.

We can fully appreciate the success of her new role which she has founded "Inspiring Women for Work", designed to help women realise their full potential and regain confidence to return to work.

Every schoolgirl would also benefit by hearing this motivational address.

Members were also delighted to welcome another celebrity to our meeting, none other than our national chairman, Janice Langley, who as well as giving us a pep talk outlined the events in the NFWI's centenary year in 2015.

The centenary baton is on its way and is currently in Leicester, and will reach Cornwall in February, when we shall hold various celebratory events. A momentous year in store.

"Food, Glorious Food" was the title of a very thought-provoking day held at County House, organised by the environment and PA sub-committee. Under the banner of "The Great  Food Debate" the committee invited speakers to talk to members on their particular field of expertise.

Andrew Holden, the procurement manager of the Eden Project, kicked off the proceedings under the heading of food sustainability at Eden, who said he was in charge of "all things foodie".

The next speakers were old friends of this committee, Colin Olver, operations manager for Co-operative stores, with Monica Price, who gave an animated talk on "love food, hate waste".

A topic to which we can all empathise. Each person in the UK wastes £424 worth of food each year.

Esther O'Beragh, waste projects officer for Cornwall Council, and former advisor on this committee gave a very spirited presentation on food and liquid recycling; a very popular speaker with the members. The afternoon session began with Paul Sousek of Jacobstow talking on "organic sustainable meat in action" describing his carbon neutral farm powered by 

The highlight of the day was a cookery demonstration on the theme of minimising waste and leftovers, with scrumptious tasters for everyone to tempt the palate.

Gill Keeble and Dot Rogers are our well-known WI cooks whose adept experience makes everyone feel their style of cooking is attainable for all, and that even the lonely little abandoned lettuce leaf need not be discarded.

A superb day in the usual WI excellent standard.

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