East Sussex Federation

Great South of England Summer Show

The Federation was busy as usual in June this year, organising the catering and compeition displays in association with the West Sussex Federation.  The catering was likened to a ‘military operation’, with, of course, delicious home-made cakes, and the entries from WIs across both counties were magnificent.  This shows the WI at its absolute best!

While the main results of the show classes appeared in the July/August edition of WI News, here are the results from the ‘Visitor’s Choice’ survey, which appeared later.  Well done to our East  Sussex winners!  Download the results here: Visitors choice 2019

Here are a few pictures from the show:



It’s South of England Show cake time!

The WI tent is always a great hit with our visitors. We hope it provides a calm haven from the hustle and bustle of the showground, and of course WI refreshments are always a treat.  None of this would be possible without the generous help of many members across both counties.

2019 is the centenary of both federations and we are hoping to put on the best show ever.

We are asking members to help with cakes and serving, but also, we’re asking crafty members to make tea cosies!  Sign-up sheets and recipes are included in your posting.  More details for tea cosies will follow next month.

We have taken note of members feedback about the cake recipes and have updated them to reflect your comments, but as always, we are happy to hear your feedback. I know some members aren’t keen on the set recipes, but this allows us to answer the many questions we get about ingredients and meet legal requirements regarding allergens.

Download the recipes here: SoE Cake recipes 2019

We’re also asking for WIs to indicate on the cake sign up form where they would like to drop off their cakes.  This will help us manage the collections.

Please can cake forms be returned by 17th April 2018, allowing us time to count numbers and put out a second request if needed. Please take a copy before returning the forms to me either by post or email. For those who are a whizz with technology please feel free to take a picture and email, text or Whatsapp it back to me.

Download the cake form here: SoE cake form 2019

There is no deadline for the helper forms, but the sooner the better if your members want a particular day or shift.


Apple Pie Challenge at Fairlight Hall

Is there a member of your WI who can make the best apple pie ever? Are they up for the challenge?

We’ll be holding a competition for the best Apple pie at the Centenary Garden Party and Fair at Fairlight Hall on Saturday 6 July.

Pies must be  8”/20cm with PASTRY top and bottom in a foil dish.  The competition will be judged by 3 ESFWI judges.  Judging will start at 3.30pm.

Pies must be brought on the day. They should be labelled with the WI/members’ name on the bottom of the dish. Please take pies home at the end of the day. The first prize: will be a garden token, second and third, certificates.

Remember – we only want one pie from each WI!  Why not hold a mini-competition beforehand to find your best baker – an Apple Pie tea-party? An apple-pie coffee morning?

Here is the application form:

APPLE PIE Application form JULY 6TH

Some great new events for your diaries!

So, our Centenary year is under way, and we have some great new events for you.  Make sure you check the Events page on this site for all the details, and to download the application forms.

Firstly, we’ve got the ever-popular ESFWI Golf tournament on Monday 20 May, at the Dewlans Manor Course. Details are on the application form.

Next, Leisure and Learning are starting a series of seaside walks, starting on Wednesday 3 April, Brighton Marina to Rottingdean, and then moving on to Eastbourne on Wednesday 8 May,  Eastbourne RNLI Museum to Holywell and back.

Another Centenary event for you: a Musical Afternoon tea at St Bede’s Senior School on 13 June.

Finally, don’t forget to check the Events page for the latest Craft and Art dates, including the Centenary Craft Day and Market at Crowborough on Saturday 6 April.




Saturday 6 July 2019 2-5pm

Held at Fairlight Hall, just outside Hastings, the beautiful home of WI member Sarah Kowitz, this is our main celebration for the Federation Centenary It will be unmissable!

Find the application form in the Events section. A print application form will be at the back of the next News. Do apply quickly. This event is a big investment for the Federation.  Booking opens on 31 January, and we will take applications on a first-come, first-served basis

Tickets are £14 per person, but £9 for 25 of you who offer to help us as a volunteer.

The event is open to WI members only.

What will happen at the event?

Enjoying Fairlight Hall.

You’ll be free to explore the extensive gardens, which have stunning views down to the sea. There is a large walled garden, plus beautiful herbaceous borders and Victorian glass houses. Find out more about Fairlight Hall from their website: http://fairlighthall.co.uk/

A lucky few will be able to book tours of the house, including the principal entertaining rooms with the opportunity to view some of the Kowitz’s stunning art collection. Particularly interesting for WI ladies, the tour will go ‘behind the scenes’ including the kitchens (don’t forget the walk-in fridge…) and laundry.  There are 90 places available for house tours, at £5.00 per ticket.  When you apply, we will allocate you to one of three tour groups. Each tour will last for 45 minutes.

There will also be 60 places available on two specialist garden tours, led by the Fairlight Hall Head Gardener. Places on these tours will also cost £5.00.

We will ask you only to apply for a place on either a house tour or a garden tour.

Tea and cakes

Will be served throughout the afternoon in the Fairlight Hall Recital Room and outside in the Stable Yard – with live music accompaniment. A selection of cakes and unlimited cups of tea or coffee are included in your entrance ticket.  There will also be a servery where you can get free cold drinks, and buy a Pimms.

A large marquee with a programme of live music and entertainment throughout the afternoon.

Another small marquee with an exhibition of rarely-seen WI archive material, including precious banners and table cloths, with our County Archivist, Shirley Kirby in attendance.

The Apple Pie Challenge! Organised by the Food and Garden Sub-Committee. Further details of this great competition will follow.

Traditional party/fairground games with the Leisure and Learning Committee.

A ‘hands-on’ craft activity for you to enjoy, and craft demonstrations.

A quiz, and/or a Treasure Hunt.

Browse the stalls in the ‘Market Street’, including the Fairlight Hall Shepherd’s Hut shop, which sells plants and produce from the estate.

A full programme for the afternoon will be issued with your individual tickets.

Getting there and practicalities.

The gardens are on the side of a hill, and at different levels. There are a number of steps and slopes to navigate, which could be difficult for those with severe mobility issues. The Recital Room, Stable Yard and main marquee are accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and there are disabled toilet facilities.

There will be extensive car parking on the site, less than five minutes walk from the festivities. Fairlight Hall can accommodate mini-buses, but not full-size coaches. There will be limited car-parking for members with disabilities close to the house, and those with limited mobility can be dropped off by the house – we will ask you to specify parking requirements on the booking form.

Volunteers, stallholders – and other things we need.

As mentioned above, we will need volunteers to help us on the day. We would not expect you to work all afternoon – we will have a rota system, so you can have plenty of time to enjoy the event.  We will need people to check arrivals, check people onto tours, be on hand to help/direct people on site, and to help with serving teas and drinks. Ideally, we would like some people to be able to arrive early to help us set up, and stay after the event has ended, to help us clear up.  If possible, we would prefer you to be relatively fit and able-bodied!  There is a space on the application form for volunteers.


We are looking for a limited number of stalls selling attractive, good quality, competitively priced items that visitors would like to browse – and buy. We will charge non-WI members £8 for a stall, and members/WI groups £5. You will need to provide your own tables and a gazebo (no larger than 3×3 metres) in case of wet weather. Stall-holders can be individuals, or WI groups.  If you are interested, you will need to tell us what sort of goods you propose to sell – we will select applicants to ensure that we have a good mixture of stalls. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please contact Sharon Hamby.


We will need to borrow some gazebos to ‘weatherproof’ the event.  If you have one you could lend us (and are willing to come and help erect it) please contact Dorothy Proietti


We hope this has whetted your appetite! If you have any general queries, please contact Stephanie Gaunt.



We have some great events and initiatives planned to commemorate 100 years since the founding of the East Sussex Federation, These will be advertised throughout 2019.  Watch out for more information!  This list should give you a taste of what is happening.

 Centenary Craft Day, Crowborough Community Centre, Saturday April 6

This year, the ever-popular Craft Day will be bigger and better than ever, and held on a Saturday to enable working members to attend. More details in Craft and Art News.

Centenary Promotional Coffee Mornings.

We’ll be encouraging all WI groups to hold a coffee morning for members and their local communities during May 2019. We’ll be producing packs to assist you in organising your coffee morning.

Federation Centenary Quiz

Heats will be held at:

Brede Village Hall Monday 20 May 2.00pm, Herstmonceux Village Hall Wednesday 22 May 7.30pm, Meriden Centre, Peacehaven Thursday 23 May 2.00pm, Luxford Centre, Uckfield Thursday 23 May 7.30pm.

The top six highest scorers overall will go through to the final to be held at Hailsham HQ on Friday 12 July.

South of England Show, Ardingly, 6,7,8 June

Don’t forget that the West Sussex Federation is also celebrating its centenary. Both Federations are busy planning a great centenary show – schedules have now gone out to WIs. Why not make up a coach party from our WI to visit the show?


Federation Garden Party/Fair, Saturday 6 July, 2pm until 5pm.

It will be held at the beautiful Fairlight Hall, the home of WI member Sarah Kowitz. Sarah has kindly agreed to open up her gardens for us, and a lucky few members will also be able to book tours of the house on a first-come first-served basis. You’ll also be able to book guided garden tours with the Head Gardener. There will be tea and cake, Pimms, live music, and a range of entertainments and stalls, including a bake-off competition and a display of rarely-seen WI archive material.  The first opportunity to book tickets for this great afternoon will be in February – application forms will be in the News, in the postings and on the website.

Come on all you creatives and crafters! We want WI groups or individual members to book stalls in our ‘Market Street’. You’ll need your own tables and gazebo. There will be up to 400 WI ladies attending, so it is an excellent selling opportunity.

Calendar Girls, The Musical, Congress Theatre Eastbourne Tuesday 6 August 7.30pm

We have reserved 100 tickets for our WI members at a bargain price of £40.50. Why not get a group together of WI colleagues, friends and family? The tickets will be sold on a first come first served basis, and you will need to pay in full to reserve your places. The Congress will only hold the tickets for us until February 2019, so book quickly. Download the application from the Events page.

Annual Meeting, Eastbourne, Wednesday 18 September.

A special meeting for a special year.  Guest Speakers will be ‘Calendar Girl’ Tricia Stewart and inspirational ocean rower Sally Kettle, plus NFWI National Chair Lynne Stubbings. We’ll also have dance in the aisles music from ‘The Retros’.

Federation Centenary visit to Denman, 18-20 October 2019.

We are not going to advertise this event much more because it is nearly full!.. If you’d like a place, please contact Vicky at the ESFWI office as soon as you can.


Rebranding the 300 Club!

From the middle of 2019 we’ll be relaunching the club as the Centenary 100 Club. Does that give you a clue? Yes. Each month we’ll have a prize of £100, as well as the usual prizes to be won at the Annual Meeting. Watch the News for further details.

The Centenary Membership Drive

Let’s go all out to recruit more WI members! The County Competition will be a membership drive for 2019/20, with prizes for the winning WIs.  More details soon!