By Rosa Davies
This year marks the 100th birthday of the Women’s Institute (WI) in Nottingham.
Even though the WI seems as British as, well, Jam and Jerusalem, the organisation was actually founded in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada in 1897 by Adelaide Hoodless.
Hoodless’ aim was to empower and educate women, particularly those in poor rural areas. Education is still the focus of the WI today.
The British WI movement began in Wales, in 1915. Two years later, it arrived in Nottingham.
Hoodless would have been amazed and proud to know that there are currently around 220,000 active WI members in the United Kingdom.
Here in Nottingham the organisation is as popular as ever with 112 chapters across the county, five of which were started last year alone.
The Hive WI has the honour of being the first new Nottingham WI of 2018. It was founded after Beeston WI launched in March 2017. Beeston was inundated with over 200 member requests.
“A few of us from the waiting list – all strangers – got together to discuss whether we could form another federation,” said the now-president of The Hive WI, Jenny-Marie Gale.
“None of us had ever even been to a WI meeting before so knew nothing about the WI or how to form one.”
The strangers met in May and began to plan.
“We wanted to be a fresh and vibrant expression of the WI, focusing on meeting new people and trying new things,” explained Jenny.
“We were advised and helped massively by Mary Thomson and Linda Taylor, the volunteer advisors from Notts County WI Federation.”
The Hive WI officially launched in January, having already met twice with interested Beestonians.
They met once in November where the 70 attendees sewed felt poppies that were later made into a wreath and laid at Beeston cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, and again in December for mulled wine and a Christmas quiz.
Jane Jefferson, the Nottinghamshire County Federation chair, attended the opening of The Hive WI.
“It’s an exciting time to be part of the WI in Nottingham as it’s our centenary year,” she said. “I’m very excited to see such a wonderful turnout at The Hive launch.”
The Hive WI currently has 75 official members, with room for others if they wish to join. The ages of the members range between 18 and 94.
“I’m so proud of all of the hard work undertaken by the team to get us to this point,” said Jenny.
“It’s been hugely rewarding seeing the initial idea of The Hive grow into reality and I’m extremely excited to see where the group will go from here. We’ve had such a positive response from our members and the local community and I look forward to seeing The Hive thrive.:
The WI inspires such a tremendous sense of community spirit.
With two new WI groups, Beeston will be buzzing.
Meetings take place every second Wednesday in Beeston between 7:30 and 9:30pm and any woman over the age of 18 is welcome.
The cost is £41 per year and for more information email email@example.com