MEMBERS of a flourishing Women’s Institute are celebrating 95 years of community cohesion.
When the women of Hartpury started a WI, the First World War had just ended claiming the lives of 14 village men, and the movement was just four years old.
Fast forward to 2014 and Hartpury WI is in better shape than it ever has been.
Membership is flourishing and they are looking forward to celebrating 100 years of the WI next year, and their own century in 2019.
“It’s quite a challenge to think what it would have been like in the village of Hartpury in February 1919,” said Hartpury WI spokeswoman Sue Wilkes.
“The fighting in the Great War had ceased only a few months before with soldiers returning home with memories that would taint their lives forever.
“Some families would never be the same as 14 men had died with their names recorded on the village war memorial.”
The WI originated in Canada in 1897 and started in Britain in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food.
It is the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK and celebrates its centenary in 2015. It has 212,526 members more than 6,500 WIs.
The women of Hartpury held their first WI meeting on February 14, 1919, chaired by Mrs Pearce Ellis.
Ninety-five years on, meetings continue and the WI celebrated with a dinner in February this year at the new village hall which opened in 2013 after many years of fundraising.
The WI in Hartpury is flourishing with membership rising year on year thanks to a dedicated committee providing a varied programme throughout each year. Enthusiasm abounds with groups enjoying monthly walks, a Scrabble club, theatre and cinema trips and outings to many places of interest, not to mention a quiz team and a victorious skittles team winning the Gloucestershire Federation of WI’s 2013 Plate.
“The National Federation of Women’s Institutes has the motto ‘The WI Inspiring Women’ which is happening here in Hartpury,” said Mrs Wilkes.
“We eagerly look forward to 2019 when our WI reaches its centenary.”