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Women's Institute appoints first male secretary in 95-year h

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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2011 12:43    Onderwerp: Women's Institute appoints first male secretary in 95-year h Reageer met quote

Women's Institute appoints first male secretary in 95-year history

A former RAF administrator has made history by becoming the first ever male county secretary for the Women’s Institute despite never having been to a meeting.

By Peter Hutchison 8:00AM GMT 30 Dec 2010
Peter Bryant was appointed the new secretary of the Gloucestershire Branch of the WI after officials checked that there was no rule against a man having the job.
He was not, however, allowed to become a member of the WI – that privilege remains only for women.
The fifty-seven-year-old applied for the position after seeing it advertised, undeterred by the fact a male had never held the position of secretary in the WI’s 95-year-history.
He fancied the move after several years as general manager of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. Mr Bryant broke new ground there too when he became the first non-pigeon fancier in the job in its 101 year history.
Mr Bryant, from Churchdown, Gloucester, has already impressed WI members by cooking homemade apple pies and bringing it along to committee meetings.

He said: “I am very honoured that an organisation of women has chosen me as the first man for a job like this.
“They decided I had exactly the right working background in the RAF and elsewhere. I had absolutely no family connections with the WI and did not know much about them.
“I have been absolutely astounded at what they get up to. “They do a sterling job, not just making jam and singing Jerusalem but involved in public affairs and helping people within communities which is fantastic.
“When they decided they wanted to appoint me our county chairman had to phone head office to see if there were any objections to having a man in the job.
“They said ‘No, but it’s different!’ It is nice to see that equality works both ways.”
Gloucestershire Federation Chairman, Margaret Clarke, said: “The WI is an equal opportunities employer. We interviewed a number of people for the vacancy, when our previous secretary retired, and Peter was by far the best candidate.
“He’s already settling in well, and is proving popular with both the staff and our members. He won’t be able to become a WI member, of course – that is still strictly women only, because of our constitution, but we’re delighted to have him on the team.”
The WI was formed in 1915 with the aims of revitalising rural communities and encouraging women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. It has 205,000 members across 6,500 regional groups.
Mr Bryant will work four days a week, managing a staff of three who provide support for 5000 WI members.
He had a career as an administrative officer in the RAF and then as General Manager at the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, followed by a short time working with the National Trust. He has just completed his first novel.

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