W.I. Newsletter July 2017

How to celebrate our Centenary, this was the dilemma facing Aileen Catterson, Cecilia Cotton, Sue George & Sharon King (also known rather grandly as the Centenary Sub-Committee) as we met for the first time during the summer of 2016.

It didn’t take long for one of the various ideas bandied around to settle down to a tea party and exhibition, although as everyone will be aware that has involved a lot of hard work and several meetings, with additional members (Colleen Jackson, Lynne Lucas & Chris Moore) seconded to the “sub-committee” over tea and biscuits (of course).

All this hard work was rewarded on Saturday 8th July as existing and previous members, past Presidents, including one who travelled from Cornwall to catch up with some familiar faces, and other guests, representing the various village organisations and bodies, gathered in our village hall.

Aileen Catterson, our Minutes Secretary, who has a passion for history, trawled through our archives both here in the village and at Hampshire Records Office to put together a fascinating insight into the last 100 years.  Members donated items and contributed to the Memory Book reflecting on their lives and memories of their W.I. membership. Our Federation Chairman, Maureen Levenson, and W.I. Adviser, Helen Carter, congratulated Aileen on her efforts.  It was a first-class tribute to the village, the W.I. as an Organisation and not least to the forward-thinking women of Abbotts Ann who came together in 1917 to form one of the earliest Institutes here in Hampshire.   

Members have long dined out on the story that when the women of Abbotts Ann first aired the idea of a W.I. the men of the village held their own meeting – in protest against this startling turn of events.  This came as a revelation to many of our guests and caused much amusement.  Obviously, the women took no notice and carried on regardless – no change there then.   Aileen managed to combine historical facts as well as the quirky and amusing and was assisted by one of our new members Chris Moore, who herself is grateful to the W.I. for helping her settle into the village.  Once again this reinforces how the W.I. is still relevant; it brings together women who perhaps on the face of it have had different life experiences, but what we have in common is that we want to belong, to learn, make friends and come together for social interaction. Although women’s lives have changed dramatically in the intervening 100 years, not surprisingly the basic elements essentially remain the same.

Our President, Kate Bennett, made reference to various snippets and included these in her tribute to the women living in Abbotts Ann in 1917 and read out extracts from various contributions to the Memory Book.  She thanked everyone involved for their hard work.

Village archivist, Tim Tayler, was surreptitiously nominated to say thank you on behalf of our guests and he congratulated us on a fantastic afternoon including what the W.I. does best apparently, providing afternoon tea.  See, nothing really changes.  

There will be more on our other activities and this month’s meeting in the next newsletter.  There is no meeting in August, but as you will see from the dates below we will still be meeting up during the month.

Diary Dates:

01 August –         Reading Group

05 August –         Breakfast Club

07 August –         Skittles Team in Action

12 August –         Walking Group  

24 August –         Supper Club

02 September – Abbotts Ann Village Fete (W.I. Refreshments)