Where are you from?
I grew up in a small village outside Cambridge and have lived in and around the city for most of my life (with just a short break away in Cardiff for university) – I can obviously only live in cities beginning with “Ca”! Living and working in Cambridge I really appreciate being able to commute to work by bike and having the amenities of a city easily on hand. It’s difficult to imagine anywhere else being so convenient and I really like the multi-national vibe here. Although I grew up in Cambridgeshire, I very much feel that I have a dual identity as my dad is from Italy and we would visit my family there each summer. Growing up in an Anglo-Italian household I feel like I have absorbed the best of both cultures, enjoying British organisation in combination with Italian food!
How long have you been a Cambridge Ladybird?
I joined the Cambridge Ladybirds in 2015 when my mum asked me to come along to a meeting with her. I have to say that I probably had the stereotypical view of the WI, as something rather quaint and old fashioned, more aimed at “older” ladies who liked baking, however when I got to my first meeting it turned out to actually be a lot of people like me. Women mostly aged 25-55yrs old who wanted to meet new people and get involved in something different from their day to day lives. So mum and I signed up and we were actually one of three mother and daughter couples that were members that year. It wasn’t long after the first meeting that the Committee was up for re-election and were asking for volunteers to join them, in a rather rash moment I just stuck up my hand and have been the Ladybirds’ Membership Secretary ever since.
What does being in the WI mean to you?
Being part of the WI has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and find new passions outside of my work. After I returned to Cambridge in my mid-twenties, many of my school friends had left and I found myself very focussed on my work. Being a member of the Cambridge Ladybirds WI has encouraged me to have a social life in a productive way. I really enjoy learning something new at each meeting and catching up with WI friends, people who I would never have met in my day to day work. One of my biggest takeaways from the meetings has been developing a new hobby and interest in jewellery making. I am very grateful to one of my fellow members, Alana, who ran a skill share meeting where we got to try out different crafts with fellow members teaching us. Alana ran an earring making workshop and I was hooked. I have always enjoyed creative pursuits but had become frustrated with knitting as I was so slow that I could never get to the finished article. With simple jewellery making, I can have a new set of earrings in a matter of a few hours so there is a real sense of accomplishment. Since Alana’s skill share, I have gone on to do a few classes to learn different techniques and am currently making crystal snowflake gifts for all my family and friends this Christmas.
What are your most passionate community or activist goals?
I am not someone who is in any way radical or an activist but I do think it is vital to support local charities and I’m very proud of how our WI nominates a charity each year to fundraise for. This year we are supporting the Cambridge Foodbank and I feel that this is something really important as food is so fundamental to family life. I have lots of happy memories of eating meals with my family growing up and the luxury of being able to buy whatever I want in the supermarket is something I think we all take for granted. Supporting a Foodbank is something easy and accessible that anyone can do and you know you are making a difference to someone by giving them your extra can or jar.
Someone gives you a million pounds to spend on yourself. What do you do with it?
I would probably never spend this kind of money on myself but for the purposes of this question, if I did have a million pounds, then I think one of my favourite things to do would be to go travelling. I have been very lucky in my previous jobs that I got to travel quite frequently to Europe and the Americas but I would love to visit Australia and New Zealand. The distance has always been something that has put me off (plus my husband doesn’t like flying) but I’m sure I could entice him if we could travel first class!
Cake, pie or biscuits?
Oh dear – to be honest it has to be all of them. I am definitely someone who has a sweet tooth and if chocolate is involved, then all the better. One of the lovely traditions of our WI is that each month different members bring cakes or biscuits to share during our break time. It has been a real treat to sample our members’ amazing home cooked creations, including many recipes that are gluten free or vegan. The Ladybirds WI also host a bake off style competition each year, which is one of the highlights of the meeting programme – a meeting dedicated to cakes! This alone should be a reason to join the WI.
Thank you Luisa for being a long-term member and essential member of the committee!
Luisa, Jan 2018
Our January 2018 member of the month is long-time committee member Luisa!