Founded in 1923, Little Thetford Women’s Institute, or WI as they prefer to be called, has inspired women of all ages in our two square mile community. In the early 1950s, it was Little Thetford WI who successfully campaigned for electricity in the village which finally arrived in 1954.
The WI in Little Thetford was suspended in 1989. The federation opened a new WI in the village in 2006. Meetings are held in the village hall at 7:30 in the evening on the first Monday of every month. The 2011 programme includes a talk on glass painting and a presentation by a Wing Commander on his activities in Afghanistan. Guests are welcome at all meetings for a charge of £3. Quizzes and raffles are a regular feature of these events. See the full 2011 programme here.
The WI, pronounced double-you-eye, is a non sectarian and non party political educational charity. Isle of Ely Federation Chairman Rosemary Green said recently that “a prime reason for women to join the organisation is to find fun and friendship in a safe and secure environment. We also encourage our members to take leading roles within the community”. The WI residential college, Denman, incorporating the WI Cookery and WI Craft Schools, is in Marcham in Oxfordshire. It is open to both members and non members. The 600 courses include cookery, art, crafts, interior design, music, drama, dance, well-being, history, literature, writing, languages, IT skills, photography and walking. In addition, all members have access to on-line training using the WI Moodle, an e-learning system which can be accessed from members own computers. The large selection of on-line courses includes learning how to demonstrate a craft and how to run a WI.
Little Thetford WI is part of the thirty-three WIs in the Isle of Ely Federation of Women’s Institutes. With around 800 members, it is one of the smallest federations within the 68 federations of the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the United Kingdom, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. The WI magazine Home and Country, first published in 1919, changed its name to WI Life in 2007. It is published eight times per year and is issued to every member.
The first United Kingdom WIs were established in 1915 by Madge Watt, initially to encourage rural women to help with First World War food production; today’s 205,000 members vote annually, one member one vote, to support issues such as climate change and country of origin labelling (COOL). At a local level, members continue to develop and support diverse campaigns such as traffic calming and save our libraries.
For further details of Little Thetford WI contact the President, Christine Bullen, on 01353 649 268. For other WIs in the area contact the Isle of Ely Federation Chairman, Rosemary Green, on 01353 661 508 or look at How to Join the WI on the web site of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.