Redecoration delight for Widdrington WI members

Jeannie Kielty, left, community relations manager at The Banks Group, with members of Widdrington WI in the hall.
Jeannie Kielty, left, community relations manager at The Banks Group, with members of Widdrington WI in the hall.

The headquarters of a Women’s Institute (WI) group has taken on a smart new look, thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.

Widdrington WI is one of only a handful of branches that owns the hall in which it meets. This is down to the foresight of members who bought the hall on Garth Lane in the village back in 1935.

It is hired out on a regular basis and hosts a range of activities – including parish council meetings, birthday parties and social gatherings, as well as the WI’s own events.

But while the rental income covers the hall’s day-to-day running costs, it is not enough to cover the capital required for larger projects such as changes to the interior.

Therefore, members were delighted to receive a £1,560 grant from The Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund as it has enabled them to bring in local contractors N & F Young to completely redecorate both the main hall and kitchen.

Margaret Shepherd, secretary at Widdrington WI, said: “Owning our own building, rather than renting as most WIs do, gives us a lot of advantages, but it does mean that we have to cover the cost of keeping it in the appropriate condition and the cost of staying on top of everything can be quite substantial.

“The hall hadn’t been touched for at least five years and our last building inspection identified the need to improve the deco as soon as we could, but if The Banks Group hadn’t stepped forward to help, it would have had to remain on the to do list.

“We’ve had lots of really nice comments from members and guests on how much of a difference they can see in the hall.

“Our users want a smart, welcoming environment in which to hold their events and we hope that the much-improved facilities we can now offer will help to bring more people and community groups in to take a look at what’s on offer, which will in turn help us generate more income to keep things ticking over.”

Widdrington WI has around 20 members aged between the mid 50s up to 83, and hosts a varied programme of speakers, workshops and fund-raising events every Monday evening.

Groups and organisations interested in applying for funding to the Banks Community Fund should call James Eaglesham on 0191 3786342 for more information.