WI members mark a milestone

Centenary celebrations at Ulgham WI.
Centenary celebrations at Ulgham WI.

Ulgham WI

At last the day had arrived, the WI was 100 years old.

The celebrations had been far reaching and varied, and a lot of television programmes had been made. Who could have missed the celebration at The Royal Albert Hall? So in Ulgham WI’s 90th year what had we planned as our contribution to this historic event?

Our idea was two-fold. On Wednesdays, between 10am and noon, Ulgham holds a coffee and chat morning called Rendezvous. Our plan was to take over this time. Secondly, we were to hold a cheese and wine evening. All of this was to take place on September 16 in the WI Hall.

What did we want to achieve? Most importantly was to have a good time and celebrate the wonderful fact that the WI has existed for 100 years. We also wanted to bring the village together to join us in our celebration, and to showcase the WI. There is jam (rather delicious jam), and we do sing Jerusalem, but there is so much more.

Ulgham WI has some particularly talented members — singers, knitters, cake-icers, jewellery-makers, the list could go on. We also wanted to highlight the social and political issues which the WI has championed. Did you know, for instance, that it was the WI that started the Keep Britain Tidy campaign?

It was decided that we would decorate our hall and display scrapbooks that had been made depicting the story of our WI. We would display crafts our members enjoyed, show some of the issues that the WI gets involved with, and present our President’s trip to the Royal Garden Party.

Our hall looked wonderful, with beautiful crafts and three-tiered cake stands laden with delicious cakes. Knitting patterns and recipes were exchanged, and craft advice given. The scrapbooks generated a lot of interest — some were fascinated by the variety of things that the WI had engaged in, others took a trip down memory lane, pointing out members past and present. We even discovered members had skills they had kept hidden.

The room was filled with the wonderful sound of conversation, the tea and coffee flowed and the cake stands were repeatedly replenished.

In the evening the cheese and wine went down very well. It was a different atmosphere and highlighted the adaptability of the WI and its members. We had over 60 people, including potential new members.

Quite a few men, some regulars of Rendezvous, were engrossed in discussions, generated by the scrapbooks, about how the village had changed. One, our President’s son Tony Brunning, had come 11,000 miles from Cape town, South Africa, to be with his mother on this special day.

The first WI was formed in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada, the first WI in Great Britain was in Anglesey, and Ulgham means home of the owl.

Mr Brunning said: “From a Stone’s throw in a creek to a drive in Anglesey, an institution formed and grew wings and gave hope and friendship to women all over the country, and all watched over by a wise old owl, 100 years old with more growing to come.”