Monday, 14 October 2019

100 years of WI in Oxfordshire

100 years of WI in Oxfordshire

MEMBERS of seven branches of the Women’s Institute in the Henley area attended a party at the town hall to mark the 100th anniversary of the organisation’s Oxfordshire federation.

About 80 women from the Henley, Sonning Common, Stoke Row, Shiplake, Peppard, Harpsden and Rotherfield Greys WIs enjoyed a home-made lunch in the Queen Elizabeth II hall.

Henley Mayor Ken Arlett led a toast to the federation before the guests were served cold meats, bread and salad followed by a selection of cakes and puddings.

The women also took part in a fund-raising raffle with prizes including wine, potted plants, jewellery, flowers and stationery.

Each group hung its banner around the edges of the hall and there was also a hand-stitched triptych featuring the name of every branch on a leaf along with the date it was founded. The Peppard branch is also celebrating its centenary this year while the Henley branch, called HoT WI, was formed in January 2017, six years after the town’s original branch folded.

Greys was founded in 1920, Shiplake in 1927, Harpsden in 1941 and Stoke Row in 1956. Between them, the seven branches have about 300 members.

Jane Probitts, of Stoke Row WI, who has also been the federation’s chairwoman for two years, said: “It’s lovely that we’ve been able to celebrate by bringing seven of our WIs here. It has been great fun as everyone was very chatty.

“Times have changed since the Women’s Institute was formed to feed the country in the First World War but it has evolved with the times and is involved in many important campaigns, from preserving rural bus services to encouraging women to go for their smear tests.”

Peppard WI celebrated its own centenary with a lunch at the village memorial hall in February and is planning to hold a garden party themed around the year 1919 and an exhibition of its records from 100 years ago.

President Irene Lindsay said: “We all worked very hard to quickly put this lunch together and we’re very proud to be celebrating.

“The WI’s biggest strength is the friendship we give each other.

“Yes, we make cakes and jam and have all sorts of activities, but that fellowship is the most important thing.”

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