The NAWC through the Years
The Northwood Area Women’s Club began in the early 1970s. Although the exact date has been lost in the annals of time, we know that the club celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2002. Wives of US servicemen stationed at Northwood Headquarters on Watford Road formed the Northwood American Coffee Group. It had 53 members in 1972. By the late 1970s the group was more formally organised with a president, board and bylaws, and the name had changed to the Northwood American Wives Club.
In 1985 the club’s name was changed to the Northwood American Women’s Club, and in 1988 the club began meeting at St John’s Church in Hallowell Road.
In 1994 full membership was open to women with a North American passport, women married to a North American passport holder and mothers with a child/children with a North American passport. Associate membership was available to women with close associations with North Americans, but associate members were limited to 20% of the general membership and could not be executive board members. The club's name was briefly changed to the North American Women’s Club of Northwood, but it was changed back to the North American Women’s Club after just a few years.
For various reasons unrelated to the club, membership started to decline in 2003. By 2004 the membership had been cut in half, so it was decided that the wives of NATO servicemen based at Northwood HQ should be allowed to join, so beginning with the 2005-06 club year, full membership was expanded to include expatriates from any country. The name was therefore changed yet again to the North Atlantic Women’s Club. In addition, UK nationals became eligible to join as associate members, and the associate membership ratio was increased to 35%. Membership increased significantly in the subsequent years and peaked at over 140 during the 2015-16 club year.
The associate member category was eliminated in 2008, giving UK nationals full membership rights. That is also when the club also obtained its current moniker. The club has largely remained the same as far as structure and functioning since then. Recently the club was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Meetings, activities and outings were cancelled from March to June 2020. Voting for the next year's board and charity was conducted online, and the board met online via Zoom. The 2020-21 club year was conducted entirely online. Unfortunately but not surprisingly a number of members did not renew their membership for this experience. Although membership dropped by 30%, those who remained enjoyed much the same membership experience albeit via Zoom. In-person meetings and activities resumed in September 2021 with Covid precautions in place and an option to participate via Zoom for those who weren't yet ready to attend in person.
The club's purpose, as stated in its current by-laws, is 'to provide an informal, multinational, social and non-profit association for women of all nationalities living in the outer London area encompassing but not exclusive to Hillingdon, Hertfordshire, Harrow, Middlesex and Buckinghamshire'. The club's objectives are to promote friendship among women in an informal, social and non-profit association; to assist members in making their residence in England a meaningful experience and to be sensitive to matters affecting the welfare and needs of the membership and surrounding community.
Outings and tours have always been an important club activity, and these take place throughout the year to places near and far. For many years, the club organised an annual coach trip to Stoke on Trent so members could shop for pottery. However, these trips stopped when international membership began to decline in the early 2000s. Numerous interest groups have formed and dissipated over the years as the membership and member interests have changed. Former interest groups and activities include horseback riding, spa days, couples game nights, antique shopping, golf and genealogy. A list of current groups and activities are available on the What We Do page, and members can form and lead a new interest group based on a topic/activity not currently served if there is interest from other members.
Fundraising for local charities has been a feature of the club since its inception. For many years, funds were primarily raised through the organisation of a large annual craft fair at which the club sold hand-crafted items as did others who bought space to do so from the club. These craft fairs have raised over £4,000 for charity. Currently, the club's fundraising is mainly through the sale of raffle tickets at the monthly meetings, donations from the club's various interest groups and auctions at our end of year Summer Lunch.
The club of today is very proud of its international origins and history and values the extra dimension that its international members bring. We are always keen to welcome women from all corners of the world whether they have links to Northwood HQ or have found themselves in the Northwood area for other reasons.
What members have to say ...
Moving to a different country and not knowing anyone was difficult, but joining NAWC made all the difference. The outings and tours have been terrific, and I've seen countless things that I wouldn’t have even known existed otherwise. I will always treasure the memories I’ve made as a member of the Club. My only regret is not joining sooner!
To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Club, various talented ladies demonstrated their skills in quilting and embroidery and designed and made a lovely wall hanging with flags representing several countries that our members are from.