Washington Women's Institute still going strong during lockdown
A 90-year-old Women’s Institute branch is still going strong and welcoming new members, despite almost a year passing since its last ‘proper’ meeting.
The Washington Concord WI was founded in 1931 and would usually meet on the first Tuesday of every month at St Andrews Methodist Church on Vermont. But that hasn’t been possible since March 3, 2020 due to the pandemic.
However, the group bought a Zoom licence in January this year and in February held its first virtual meeting with 20 members in attendance. Everyone was delighted to see each other.
They plan to hold more meetings with bigger attendances and perhaps some new members.
The Women’s Institute promotes friendship and education. In “normal” times the group has enjoyed meeting up to hear some fascinating speakers, chat and enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake (or two).
Rona Burr has been president of the branch since January 2020, but has so far only managed to preside over three meetings in the flesh. However, she is glad that the Zoom meetings are now underway and has plans for when lockdown ends.
Federation chair Margaret Carter said: “In ‘normal’ times the members meet at least monthly and enjoy talks, demonstrations, excursions, meals out, theatre visits and a myriad of other social events, in addition to supporting local charities like food banks and women’s refuges.
“Many have kept busy knitting for charity and making masks and scrubs.
Rona Burr added: “During the last year our WI committee has kept in touch with our members with telephone calls on a regular basis.
"Having a chat with each other has made a welcome diversion from the everyday situation we have found ourselves in.
“At the start of the first lockdown some of our committee made and supplied every one of our members with cotton face masks, to help keep them safe when out and about.
“We also contributed to the scrubs appeal by donating money which bought material. One of our members also helped to sew the scrubs which were later sent to local hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.”
Membership of the WI is open to women aged 18 or over. A half-price membership offer is open until March 31. Visit www.thewi.org.uk.