Combined WI Forced to Close
By Roseanne Edwards
A village Women’s Institute branch has been wound down because of a lack of members.
Sulgrave WI, which joined forces with Culworth in a bid to keep the group going, has closed.
However Northamptonshire WI chiefs said it was posssible the oganisation would be regenerated if more enthusiasts came forward in the future.
And in the meantime, ladies from the neighbouring WI branch in Helmdon issued a warm invitation to their comrades in Sulgrave and Culworth to join them in their regular activities.
Northamptonshire WI spokeswoman Barbara Bentley described the closure as a suspension which does not necessarily mean the end of the branch.
“We don’t say ‘closed down’, because under the WI constitution the branch is given up to three years to find new members and we are duty bound to help that happen.”
Mrs Bentley said a number of WIs in the area have managed to boost membership and resumed operations, including Chacombe which was suspended but has reformed and now has a membership of 24.
The Sulgrave branch celebrated its 90th anniversary last year and is one of the oldest WIs in the record book.
Jennifer Saunders, secretary of the Helmdon WI branch, a short distance away, said her group would be delighted to welcome members of Sulgrave and Culworth if they wished to join any of their activities.
“I know one or two have joined the Middleton Cheney branch but they would be most welcome to join our meetings if they would like to,” she said.
“Our programme of events is listed on our (village) website and includes our own 90th anniversary celebrations in March when we hope to organise a meal attended by the heads of the WI from Northampton.
Mrs Saunders said the WI offers far more than the ‘jam and Jerusalem’ reputation that still spoils the institute’s modern image.
“We enjoy a large number of activities and outings, from ferret racing to visiting a spring daffodil festival.
“The WI has its own courses at a college near Oxford where members can enjoy a wide variety of lessons from history to cookery;.”
She said Helmdon’s members were active among branches joining up for walks all over Northamptonshire.
The group, which meets monthly, organised its own walk last spring, welcoming and getting to know members from other parts of the county..
The branch jointly organises gatherings with other groups to which guest speakers are invited. The WI is funded by memberships and donations.
The Banbury Guardian – 27 January 2011