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West Anglia Local Group

The West Anglia group was created in 2005. The region covered by the group includes: Beds, Bucks, Herts and Northants.

The group was set up mainly for social networking, but further objectives include: exchange of information on aspects of indexing - both current and future; help and advice on self-employment and running a freelance business; improving work opportunities and helping trainees.

We aim to meet every three months - in January, April, July and October. We try to arrange meetings at venues within easy walking distance of a train or coach station. But car sharing can be arranged for those venues not easily accessible by public transport. Everyone is welcome to join us at meetings whether from the locality or further afield.

The Group Coordinator is Malcolm Henley.


Next meeting: 

Wednesday 11th October 2017 12.00.

A return visit to The White Lion, Watling Street, Dunstable LU6 1RS. A spacious, comfortable pub/reataurant. For further information/menus etc. see


Previous meetings:

Thursday 6th July 2017

Nine members plus one offspring met at the Higgins Pantry in Bedford. This was our highest turnout for several years. The café was very busy and noisy, which made it difficult to hold a proper meeting. We talked about the Conference and the Oxford Book Index Symposium, which were pronounced a success. We were pleased that Jan Worrall,a former group member, was awarded the Bernard Levin prize at the conference. We also touched on next year's conference at Lancaster.

We were pleased to see John Silvester, a group stalwart since its inception. His forthcoming move to Lincolnshire means that this might be his last WAG meeting. He will be sorely missed. We were also delighted to welcome a former WAG member who had left indexing some time ago. She is now considering returning to the fold.

Friday 31st March 2017

Three West Anglia members, plus one SfEP member met at The Inn on the Green in Harpenden. Two apologies were received. They discussed the forthcoming Conference and Oxford Book Index Symposium. They also talked about Brexit and its possible effects on our business. The editor has many overseas clients, and suspects there will be an impact on his work. National Indexing Day met with general approval, and the editor was aware of the event.

Thursday 5th January 2017

Six of us met at the Flying Horse, Clophill, for our post-Christmas lunch. The pub and food were as good as ever, and we all enjoyed a good lunch. We discussed various subjects. The SI conference met with general approval, and most of us hope to attend. Brexit came up, as one member had just indexed a book containing his first encounter with the term. We spent some time discussing attendance at our meetings. We normally get between five and eight members (out of 18), and it tends to be the same people each time. It was agreed to poll the members to see what they want from the meetings, and what would tempt them to attend.

Wednesday 12th October 2016

Six of us met in Debenhams restaurant in Milton Keynes. This was a new venue for us, and we all had a good lunch. It was comfortable, if a bit noisy for a meeting place.

We had all been to the Birmingham conference, and we discussed our impressions. We thought the venue and food were excellent, and the organisation first-rate. Our only real quibble was the one-day format, which meant that things could get a little rushed, with insufficient time for networking.

We talked about Sideline, which has gone rather quiet. One or two felt that, in the past, discussions had got too 'robust', and this could be intimidating.

As usual we discussed our workloads. Most people were happy with their levels of work, with sufficient coming in. One or two have had problems with late payment. We felt that there's not much one can do about this, apart from declining further work from them.

Thursday 14th July 2016

A return visit to the Higgins Museum and Gallery in Bedford. Five members were able to attend. The first item for discussion was, of course, the Brexit vote. We speculated on whether the arising economic uncertainty will affect the flow of indexing work. We discussed the forthcoming conference, which all five of us will be attending. We thought that the one-day format was an interesting experiment, and may encourage a larger attendance. I reported the results of my recent attendance at the Group Leaders' Meeting. This led on to our talking about shrinking SI membership, and the impact of that on local groups.

As we discussed workload. One member gets a lot of work from IA, while the rest of us get less. Another member conducted a major email marketing campaign, which has really paid off.

Thursday 14th April 2016

Four members attended our meeting, at the White Lion in Dunstable. During a very good lunch we discussed late payment problems, and the Birmingham conference. Nicola King was there and we talked about her new role as reviews editor, and the challenges of finding books of interest and relevance to indexers. The pub was an excellent venue, and I can see us using it again sometime.

Thursday 7th January 2016

Eight West Anglia members, plus a welcome visitor from SfEP, met at the Flying Horse in Clophill. We all enjoyed an excellent meal, and had informal discussions on various indexing matters. 

Thursday 15th October 2015

A return visit to the Higgins Gallery and Museum in Bedford. Eight members attended. We discussed various indexing matters, and also the FutureLearn online education resource (, which group members described as very useful, if addictive. We also discussed the possibility of interaction with local SfEP groups.

Saturday 11th July 2015

An experimental Saturday meeting. Five members attended. We were going to meet at Wetherspoons in Milton Keynes. However the pub proved to be packed because of a nearby music festival. We went instead to Caffe Italia in central MK. There we held an informal meeting, discussing various indexing topics. Malcolm and Jane Henley suggested that perhaps four meetings a year was too many. However, the other members voiced a preference to keep to this number, so no changes will be made. Discussions were followed by an excellent lunch.

Tuesday 21st April 2015

Five members met at the Abbot's Kitchen café in St Albans Cathedral. We were delighted to welcome Hazel Bell as a new member of the group. The meeting was informal, but we discussed our current work levels, the SI conference, and the decline our group's membership. The lunch was as good as we remembered from our last visit.

Thursday 15th January 2015

Seven members and one spouse met up at The Star in Leighton Buzzard for our post-Xmas lunch, which was kindly organised by Sophia Clapham. This was an informal, social event, although we obviously discussed SI matters such as work levels. Most people seemed to be keeping busy. We decided on the dates for the next two meetings (see above), the second of which will take place on a Saturday as an experiment. 

Thursday 9th October 2014

Four of us made a return visit to the Lakeside pub at Willen Lake, Milton Keynes. We enjoyed a jolly walk along the lake shore, before finally returning to the pub for lunch. We discussed the low turnout. The number of indexers in our area is declining. Some people have moved away, or left indexing, and no new members have joined recently. As usual, we also discussed work and pay levels. We agreed to look for venues further afield for a post-Xmas lunch.


Wednesday 16th July 2014 

Seven of us met at the Hub Cafe in Ampthill Park. Five members, plus one partner and a prospective new indexer, who is looking into a career change. After having refreshments John Silvester led a walk through the park, which he knows well. We then walked on into Ampthill town centre, where we enjoyed a good pub lunch. With Zoe being there to find out more about entering indexing, there was a lot of discussion relating to getting started, future prospects, Conference and training.


Thursday 24th April 2014

Seven members made a return visit to The Abbot's Kitchen restaurant in St Albans Cathedral. We were delighted to be joined by Jan Worrall, who was up from Hampshire for the day. We all enjoyed a good lunch, and discussed, among other things, future venues for meetings. We decided on Ampthill Park in July and (provisionally) Willen Lake, Milton Keynes in October (see above).  We also talked about work levels, the slow shrinkage of the Group, declining pay rates and prospects for new indexers. Of the members present, only two will be attending the Cirencester conference.


 Thursday 9th January 2014

Eight of us met for our post-Christmas lunch at the Flying Horse, in Clophill. We enjoyed a good meal, and caught up with things. We also discussed venues for future meetings. Some members will explore different locations that might be more convenient for members, including Luton, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard. 


Thursday 17th October 2013

A good turnout, with ten of us meeting at the Higgins Gallery and Museum. We sat out in the sunshine, discussing the usual topics of work availability, pay rates etc. The meeting followed directly after the final meeting of the Wyboston conference committee, as all that hard work came to an end. Most of us stayed for a good lunch in the museum's Pantry Cafe.


Thursday 25th July 2013

Four of us enjoyed a very pleasant stroll around Campbell Park, before returning to the restaurant in John Lewis. There we were joined by a fifth member, and we all had a good lunch. Naturally we talked a lot about the recent Wyboston Conference, also future Conferences, and the future of the SI. It was a genial, lively meeting, and we generally put the world to rights.


Wednesday 24th April 2013

Eight WAG members met at the Abbot's Kitchen restaurant in St Albans Cathedral. As usual we discussed a wide range of subjects including, of course, work availability, the Conference and the future of indexing. We also all enjoyed a good lunch in this busy, popular venue. We decided on Milton Keynes for July's meeting, as it's fairly accessible for a lot of Group members (see above).


Wednesday 16th January 2013

We had our post-Christmas meal. By popular demand this was held again at the King William IV pub in Kempston, Bedford. We had a good turnout, and a good time was had by all. There was no formal structure to the meeting, but we discussed a wide range of topics, with planning for the 2013 Conference to the fore. We also just had a good old natter. Once again we had an excellent lunch.


Wednesday 17th October 2012

We visited the RSPB Lodge Nature Reserve an Sandy. Six of us, plus one spouse, met up and talked about all sorts of things as usual. We were lucky with the weather, as it's basically an outdoor venue. We walked round one of the marked trails, and then moved on to St Swithin's church in Sandy, which was serving food in the church hall, and had lunch. When I previously 'recce'd' the area I was told by a Sandy landlady that none of the pubs in town serve food, so the church was a lucky find.

Wednesday 27th June 2012

Seven of us met at the Dunstable Downs Visitor Centre. We initially sat outside until a cool breeze drove us into the cafe. We discussed work, and most people seem to be fairly busy, which is reassuring. For future meetings we agreed to schedule them to avoid clashing with the Conference committee meetings. One or two members had indicated that they couldn't attend both within the space of a week, so this reduced our turnout. We decided on the next meeting, to be at the RSPB at Sandy (see above). In addition, Dawn Dobbins offered, once again, to enquire at the King William IV in Kempston, for our post-Christmas lunch. We then went for a short walk along the crest of the Downs, enjoying the views and fresh air, before returning to the cafe for a light lunch.

Wednesday 25th April 2012

The weather was awful, but this did not stop eight WAGs turning up at the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough for their spring meeting.  Wellingborough is a pleasant town, and lies at the extreme end of the `WAG empire'. Some history: the site of the Castle Theatre used to be the area's Cattle Market. One of the main attractions of this venue was the free car park (a rare thing in this age of Council greed). There was much talk about new technology (our group recently did James Lamb's embedded indexing workshop) and the continuing availability of work for indexers. The happy conclusion was that little appears to have changed in the indexing world and everyone is just as busy as before. We also discussed future meetings and there were plenty of suggestions. It was decided our summer meeting (a walk on Dunstable Downs, 27th June) would need to be held at a place with an indoor café (in case the rainy spring extends into the summer).  The lunch at the restaurant surprised us by being very generous but well-priced. Thanks go to Michael Doherty for suggesting this venue.

Wednesday 11th January 2012

This was our annual post-Christmas meal at the restaurant of King William IV pub in Kempston, Bedford, MK42 7AL We indulged in a delicious three-course meal that was very much appreciated by all. We even pulled crackers and wore paper hats (well, at least two of us did). A place that is definitely worth re-visiting. 

Wednesday 19th October 2011

For our autumn meeting, we met at King William IV pub in Kempston, Bedford.  There was a large number of people at the meeting from various parts of Beds, Bucks, Herts and Northants. The pub had a great atmosphere and suited our kind of meeting - it was cosy and quiet - except when everyone was talking at the same time. We always have so much to discuss about freelance work that there is no time for a formal meeting. However, we were seated around several tables put together in an L-shape with little room to move. This made it difficult to circulate and chat to everyone. This is one of the problems of groups becoming too large. The pub had been recommended for having good food (and real ale) and this proved to be true - most of us partook of lunch there. In fact, we decided to use the pub as the venue for our annual post-Christmas meal.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Eleven of us met at the Lakeside Pub, Willen lake, Milton Keynes for a walk around both lakes. The weather stayed dry and the walk was over far too quickly as we had so much to talk about. Most of us then had lunch at the pub - sitting outside to make the most of the lovely weather. 

Wednesday 6 April 2011

This was at the Waterend Barn, a Lloyd's Bar 1 pub in St Albans, Hertfordshire. It was a brilliant day (with a temperature of 23 C). Ten of us turned up and we were able to sit outside (it was warm enough even in the shade). We were joined by two new members, both trainees: Helen from Bicester, Oxfordshire and Chris from Mattishall, Norfolk. We spend an hour or so chatting about the usual topics: the SI training course, indexing work, copy editing and other work that people are involved in. Then we discussed the feasibility of hosting the SI conference in 2013 and agreed we could - just about. Most people were able to stay for lunch - which was very tasty and very reasonably priced. It was such a shame that most of us then had to go back home to get on with work. However, some lucky people had taken the whole day off work so they could wander around St Albans, visit the market and shops and collapse with a cup of tea in a sunny garden café listening to the bells of St Alban's Cathedral.

Friday 14th January 2011

Our annual New Year lunch at The Flying Horse pub, Clophill, Bedfordshire.

Email discussion list

We have an email discussion list for this group which is open to any SI member.

Further information

For further information, please contact:

Malcolm Henley

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