Wednesday September 16 marked the anniversary 100 years ago of the first WI meeting in the UK at Llanfairpwll.
The first WI branch in England started at Singleton, West Sussex, that November. The movement spread very rapidly – our own East and West Ayton branch came only a few years later in 1918.
Some of the early influential members were suffragettes, fighting for Women’s rights and the vote, fast establishing the WI as not only an educating movement involved in rural affairs and home crafts, but also a campaigning one.
On 16 September we celebrated in style with a superb tea party at Hackness Grange.
There were 27 of us.
It was lovely to meet up with some old friends – previous members who have been unable to get to recent meetings – and of course, a great excuse to dress up, get together and chat.
After all, one of the main aims of the WI is also friendship and fun. The committee had made rose corsages for every one; we had balloons and decorations and a beautiful cake made by our previous President, Jean Carter and decorated with gorgeous sugar-craft roses made by our previous Secretary, Jean McArthur.
Our President, Judith Holden, gave a warm welcome to everyone, then we made our way to the lovely dining room where plates of sandwiches, scones and cream, cakes and trifle were waiting.
Jean McArthur gave such an interesting talk about her experiences when she first moved to West Ayton and joined our branch.
There have been changes over the years and as we look forward to the future the WI is fast gaining more members and appealing to younger women. We ended the party with Hazel Keld, our longest serving member, proposing a toast to the WI, past, present and future, and the traditional singing of Jerusalem.
It was such a lovely occasion with many thanks to Hackness Grange for superb attention and help.