As Great Coates WI celebrates 95 years together, club secretary invites more members to join group
FOR almost a century, the women of Great Coates WI have been lobbying the Government on serious issues, raising money for local charities and passing on knowledge of traditional cookery and crafts.
And now, as the club celebrates its 95th year, the friendly and welcoming group are keen to welcome more women into the fold – promising "it's not all jam and Jerusalem".
The club's secretary Carol Frankish said things had moved on a great deal since those early days – although she did admit that many of the younger members do want to learn how to make jam!
There is also a more serious side to the organisation, which once hit the headlines for its slow handclap of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and regularly lobbies parliament on women's and world issues.
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"He started being political," said Carol, as she explained that despite its work, the WI remains the biggest women's organisation that is non-sectarian and non-political.
"The WI started in Canada in 1896 and the first groups met in Wales in 1915. Our club started in Great Coates in 1918, so we must have been one of the first in England.
"A lot has changed since then though. We're a lot less formal for a start!"
Ahead of the group's anniversary celebrations on Thursday, Carol has been looking through old minute records for the club, dating back to 1921, which recount some of the activities of the day, including making poultices with old flannels.
Carol said: "It's the company that I find most appealing, but you can learn a lot and really make a difference.
"We have regular speakers and demonstrations, some of which are more serious than others.
"For example, recently Lynn Lemon came to talk to us about the work of St Andrew's Hospice, which we have raised funds for.
"At other meetings we have had talks and demonstrations from Olympic medalist Sharon Rendle, who took the gold at Seul, and woman blacksmith, Rachel McWilliams."
She added that a wide range of craft courses are available through the movement, which has its local headquarters in Brigg and that every July the group takes a trip together.
There are also themed evenings, one of which saw her taking to the kitchen to whip-up a feast of Georgian cuisine, including Pease Pudding, although she did admit they wouldn't be keen to repeat many of them.
She said: "It is really good fun and it's such a warm, friendly and welcoming group. We'd be delighted to welcome some new members."
Find out more
To find out more about the group, simply get along to their monthly meetings at the Bishop Edward King Centre on the second Thursday of every month at 7.30pm.