It is an inspirational organisation that has been the backbone of many communities up and down the land for more than a century – the Women’s Institute (WI).
The organisation was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War.
Since then it has inspired millions of women and plays a key role in providing educational opportunities and the chance to develop new skills, take part in a myriad of activities and campaign on issues that are important to them and their communities.
This year, seven WIs have been marking their centenaries: Alnmouth, Bamburgh, Doddington, Eglingham, Embleton, Howick and Longhoughton and Boulmer.
The Northumberland Federation of WIs is also celebrating 100 years. in existence.
The culmination of those celebrations is a fabulous exhibition, Proud To Be 100, which runs at the Bailiffgate Museum in Alnwick until Sunday, December 9. The groups gathered for a preview evening at the museum last Friday.
Romaine Barclay-Kim said: “As co-ordinator of the WIs involved in the exhibition, I and they, would want to express their gratitude to Mick Grant of the Bailiffgate Museum, who spent endless hours scanning, editing and printing the texts and photos which are now hanging in their frames.
“He guided the committee of WI ladies into what became a very professional exhibition. Other volunteers at the museum are also thanked for their contributions in time and effort. I am very grateful for the time the WI ladies put into attending the planning meetings which started well over a year ago and for sourcing all the exhibits which are now being showcased.”
Proud To Be 100 is a collection of photographs, memorabilia, artworks and memories representing the history of the WI groups,
A large commemorative quilt by Eglingham WI attracted a lot of interest.
Wall hangings and banners have had a valuable place in the WI’s history and this digital photographic quilt brings this tradition up to date.
At the centre of the quilt are 100 images selected from the archive and from specially commissioned shots of this year’s centenary events. It is a permanent, visible and accessible record of member’s interests, achievements and awards.
Eglingham WI member, Carolyn Brewster, said: “The banner will help reinforce the role the WI plays in developing community bonds. It will inform visitors to the exhibition and after, when it is hung in the village hall, of Eglingham WI’s historical context and the significant place it has had and continues to have in the wider community.
“In planning the quilt, we wanted to show that we are a modern WI with novel ideas and a future that will take us through the next 100 years. The project would not have been possible without a generous grant from the Percy Family Trust which is administered by the Community Foundation (serving Tyne and Wear and Northumberland).”