Members of the WI from right across the Island have launched a year of celebrations to mark the centenary of their local County branch of the Women’s Institute.
The 100 year milestone was officially reached on November 25, when Newport Minster was the venue for a huge celebratory display of WI archives, combined with a Flower Festival.
All 31 WIs on the Island took a part in creating the gorgeous flower displays, covering a wide range of topics, while the archive display highlighted many of the best parts of local WI history.
Of course, it also involved the serving of lots of tea and cake, which all good WI events should always include!
Other events planned for the coming months of celebration include a beach party and a Steam Railway extravaganza.
Whilst WIs had been running already on the Island since the first one was formed in May 1919, it wasn’t until 1921 that it was decided to form a County (Federation) office to support the running of the existing WIs.
For some decades they had no formal base, but within 30 years, with the support of members, the Federation was able to purchase the current offices and occupy a physical building. Now, this base provides technical guidance, marketing support and also training courses.
Most people will have seen the WI members around the Island at their successful tea tents – they had 10 years at the Bestival, for instance, providing much more than just tea and cake to the revellers. In fact they offered everything from sewing kits for fancy dress, to providing birthday cakes and sometimes a friendly chat facility.
Chairman Sue Biss said: “We will be celebrating with our WIs over the next 12 months with various activities – but we are also looking forward to the coming decades. The WI is a wonderful organization – our tag line is “fun and friendship”. We are a hugely diverse range of women and our WIs are all different.
“We want to show that we have something to interest all women, from all walks of life and our members range in age from young 20s to 101. We are active with crafts, campaigning, education, caring for our community and surroundings, and caring for each other. And we will keep changing with the times, to be as relevant as we can”.