Hellesdon WI celebrates 90 years

Just Regional
Jan 30, 2014 3 mins read

An impressive 90 years of friendship and education were celebrated in January as members of Hellesdon Women’s Institute (WI) gathered together to mark the special anniversary over lunch at the Holiday Inn.

The first meeting of Hellesdon WI was in February 1924 – nine years after the WI was formed – and was held in the Parish Hall on the Low Road. The idea behind the WI was to revitalise rural communities and 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 with more than 210,000 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.

Freda Lane is the current president of Hellesdon WI and has been involved with the group since the late 1990s. She believes the WI has changed from being groups of women who don’t work and focus on homemaking, to also being an organisation for working women – and still find time for baking and making preserves.

A recent highlight for Freda was winning the Chairman’s Shield in 2008. “Each institute was given £5 and asked to double it to raise money for refurbishment of a room at the WI’s Denman College,” she said. “We raised £55, with one member who knitted and sold hats and another who raised three battery chickens and sold the eggs.”

Hellesdon WI has 43 members, many of whom gathered together for the 90th anniversary celebration lunch, which was also attended by Norfolk Federation chairman Sally Paramour and Hellesdon WI advisor Jane Ioannou.

“It was delightful to join members of the Hellesdon WI for their 90th anniversary and to be part of such a friendly occasion,” said  Sally Paramour.

“When you think how much women’s lives have changed since that first meeting 90 years ago, it’s great that the group is still going strong today with the same values of friendship and education while trying to meet modern needs as well.”

And it won’t be long until Hellesdon WI gets in the celebration spirit again, as next year is the WI’s national centenary – a fantastic achievement that Freda puts down to the friendship that all WI members experience.

Any ladies who are interested in joining Hellesdon WI can contact Freda Lane on 01603 426529.

Celebrating 90 years at Hellesdon WI

Celebrating 90 years at Hellesdon WI


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