Monday, 21 June 2021

Women travel on vintage bus for institute’s centenary

A GROUP of women travelled from Henley to Dorchester on a vintage bus to mark the

A GROUP of women travelled from Henley to Dorchester on a vintage bus to mark the centenary of the Women’s Institute.

The 1964 Routemaster, provided by Past Times of Caversham, picked up members of the organisation’s South Chilterns group in Wootton Road on Monday.

The group, which comprises the Peppard, Harpsden, Shiplake and Greys branches of the WI, took with them a banner and a commemorative iced sponge cake baked by Pat Eades, the president of Harpsden WI.

The women arrived at Dorchester Abbey at noon and took part in a service with 300 women from other WI groups across Oxfordshire. A baton which has been visiting branches nationwide since last year arrived on a vintage tractor and the abbey bells were rung. The proceedings closed with a rendition of Jerusalem after which tea and cakes were served.

Irene Lindsay, president of Peppard WI, who organised the bus trip, said: “The Routemaster seemed appropriate as a lot of people were going to arrive in some form of vintage transport.

“Our members had been getting gradually more enthusiastic as the date got closer and there was a great atmosphere. The weather was fantastic and that really helped.

“The centenary is important because the WI was founded to help women, especially rural women.

“It did a lot for them back in the days when money was short â?? it offered friendship and crafts and was a force in the community, which it still is today.”

Rachel Lloyd, past president of Shiplake WI, helped decorate the bus.

She said: “It was a lovely day. It all went very smoothly, the weather was perfect and, of course, Dorchester Abbey is an amazing building.

“There was a wonderfully festive atmosphere on the journey up. The bus was causing quite a stir and there were lots of people stopping to look and wave as we passed. It put us all in the mood for a celebration.”

Val Mundy, president of Greys WI, said: “There were people arriving at Dorchester in all sorts of vehicles from double-decker buses to tractors and pink Minis.

“It really was a lovely day and it made the back of your neck tingle to be singing Jerusalem in such beautiful surroundings.”

On Tuesday, members gathered at Greys Court, near Rotherfield Greys, to pass the baton to representatives of the Buckinghamshire federation so it could continue its tour.

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