Saturday, 19 June 2021

Visit of WI centenary baton to Oxfordshire and Berkshire

THE National Federation of Women’s Institutes is celebrating its centenary this year.

THE National Federation of Women’s Institutes is celebrating its centenary this year.

Various celebration events are taking place and a baton is travelling the length and breadth of the country.

It began in Wales, as did Britain’s first WI, at the beginning of the year and is coming to South Oxfordshire this month and will be passed around most of the 150 WIs in the county.

The baton will be in Berkshire from April 7 to 14, including a lunch at Henley Cricket Club on Monday, April 13 from 12.30pm to 2pm for members of Remenham, Cockpole Green, Mill Green (Wargrave) and Maidenhead WIs.

On April 14, the baton will be at Caversham Heath Golf Club from noon to 3pm for a finger buffet lunch for members of Chazey, Sonning Glebe, Rosehill and Whitchurch Hill WIs.

At 4pm, there will be a formal handover of the baton from the Berkshire Federation of WIs to the Oxfordshire federation at the GB rowing team centre at Caversham Lakes. On Monday, April 20 there will be a celebratory gathering of 250 members from 22 WIs at Dorchester Abbey from noon to 4pm. Local MPs and mayors will be present.

The bells will ring in the baton’s arrival and there will be speeches and displays of scrapbooks followed by a picnic lunch.

Jerusalem will be sung and a celebration cake cut followed by tea as the baton is passed around those present for photo opportunities.

On the following day, the baton will start its journey with Cleeve-by-Goring WI.

A coffee morning will be held at the Belleme Room at Goring village hall at 10am before the baton leaves for Sonning Common, where the local WI will welcome it at 11am.

There will be a coffee morning at St Michael’s Church hall in Peppard Road, Sonning Common, with 100 celebration fairy cakes and free tea and coffee. Lyn Lloyd-Lewis, Sonning Common WI’s most senior member, will leave at 11.40am to take the baton by vintage sports car to hand over to Stoke Row WI at the Maharajah’s Well at noon.

This will be preceeded by an open coffee morning, free for villagers, including local schoolchildren.

There will then be a baton-passing ceremony and photos round the well, which will be decorated specially.

The baton will then be taken by Stoke Row WI in a vintage sports car to Greys WI, which is planning a Bucks Fizz welcome.

It will then be delivered to Greys Court, where there will be a ceremony as the baton is passed from Oxfordshire to the Buckinghamshire federation of WIs.

Greys Court was the home of Lady Brunner, who was chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes from 1917 to 1946, until 2003 when it was taken over by the National Trust.

Sir Hugo Brunner, the Mayor of Henley Martin Akehurst and the chairman of the Oxfordshire WI federation and other dignitaries will be at the ceremony.

The baton will arrive at the Royal Albert Hall on June 4 for the national federation’s 100th annual meeting.

On June 2 there will be a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace especially for the WI in the presence of the Duchess of Cornwall.

Every WI in the country has been allocated one ticket and has held a ballot among members to choose a lucky winner.

The Oxfordshire federation will run coaches from around the county to the party.

The ideals of the WI of truth, justice, tolerance and friendship are as strong and important today as they were in 1915.

There are institutes in towns, villages, workplaces and universities.

Denman College at Marcham, near Abingdon, is the WI’s centre for learning with courses on cookery, craft, wellbeing and lifestyle.

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