St Andrew’s Hall in Norwich packed as the WI hold annual meeting

Hundreds of women descended on Norwich to take part in the annual meeting of the Norfolk Federation of Women's Institutes.

More than 750 members packed St Andrew's Hall to peruse trade stands and listen to informative speakers, which included Pensthorpe Nature Reserve co-owner Deb Jordan and Barbara Stephenson from Dementia UK.

The event was organised to give 177 WIs across the county the chance to socialise and share experiences, with many groups collecting awards for their long service in the community.

The Federation Annual Meeting was launched by the Sheriff of Norwich, Derek James, and was followed by an address by the chairman, Sally Paramour.

Cindy Brookes, Norfolk Federation of Women's Institutes secretary, said: 'So many people wanted to get involved this year that we had to turn some of the ladies away because the hall was simply not big enough to take them.

'We do this meeting once a year to gather all our members together so they can meet up with women from other WIs across the county and continue their friendships.'

Visiting speaker Professor Stephen Holgate spoke of medical research taking place to tackle life-threatening illnesses such as breast cancer and dementia.

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The talk, entitled Stratified and Personalised Medicine, revealed how treatments for chronic diseases are being developed so they directly relate to an individual patient's needs.

Professor Holgate, from the University of Southampton, said: 'In the next 10 years we are going to have the knowledge to not only suppress nasty diseases, but to prevent them as well. Breast cancer is not a single condition, but 30 different diseases with different pathways.

'But science has allowed us to develop an understanding of what these pathways are, which allows us to develop treatments which cater to those specific types of breast cancer.

'It gives me tremendous optimism, because it helps tell us what we need to do to prevent them in the first place.'

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