Westbury Park WI came to be thanks to Jane Hann, Joint President. She joined Clifton WI when it started in 2009 and, although enjoyable, realised it would be even better to belong to a group in her own community. As a long-term Westbury Park resident who works in the local school, Jane knew there would be many friends and acquaintances that would relish the opportunity to meet new and old faces. So, she contacted the National Federation, got the low down from Daphne Vise on how to go about it, asked a few friends whether they thought she was insane, and when they didn’t, off she went. Picking the right team to help her was crucial. Rosie Showler, Joint President, was first in line as she’s an ‘out there’ sort of person. Anne Harrington is organised and Jan Oldland is good with money, so they were next. A venue was tricky, finding somewhere not too big but where alcohol is permitted was the brief, and Westmoreland Hall has turned out to be perfect (and as it doubles as a guide hut there’ll never be a shortage of youngsters coming through the ranks hopefully). Aside from coping with the logistics, Jane hoped a Westbury Park WI would be friendly, above all else, and not too big – that wish nearly fell at the first hurdle when the queue for the inaugural meeting snaked down the road and people were seen speed-walking to improve their chances. The membership has flucuated and settled at 50 -60 members, but the average attendance is twenty to thirty which works well. Meetings are interesting, full of chat and laughter, and of course, friendly.
The Women’s Institute (WI) was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation’s aims have broadened and the WI is now the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK. The WI will celebrated its centenary in 2015 and currently has over 220,000 members in around 6,600 WIs.
The WI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.