We are proud to have a beautiful lapel button donated by the Littleport branch of the Women’s Institute.
This global women’s organisation was founded in Canada in 1897, when Adelaide Hoodless addressed a meeting for the wives of members of the Farmers’ Institute. The first meeting of a Women’s Institute in the UK took place on 16 September 1915 in Wales.
Women’s Institutes were largely rural associations, but the organisation now has active branches in towns and cities all over the world.
The organisation originally had two aims.
To revitalise rural communities, and to encourage women to become involved in producing food during the First World War.
After the end of the First World War the Board of Agriculture withdrew its sponsorship of the WI. But the Development Commission continued to support the formation of new branches of the WI.
Don’t say it’s ‘just jam and Jerusalem.’
By 1926 the Women’s Institutes were fully independent and rapidly became an important part of rural life.
During the Second World War, the WI made a great contribution to the welfare and care of evacuees. They also organised countrywide ‘Preservation Centres’ (where volunteers made jam and canned fruit and vegetables). The preserved produce was sent to depots to be added to the nation’s wartime rations.
Since then the organisation’s scope has widened and it is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK. The UK WI celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015 and currently has approximately 208,000 members in the UK.
Today the WI (as it is affectionately known) plays a unique role in enabling women to gain new skills and take part in a wide range of activities. The WI also campaigns on issues that matter to them and their communities. The WI is a diverse organisation open to all women.
The Women’s Institute has never been affiliated to any political party and is non-denominational.
Like many towns and villages Littleport has an active Women’s Institute. The Littleport branch was founded in 1922. In 1984 the Littleport Women’s Institute paid for the village sign in recognition of their 75th anniversary the year before.
This sign was replaced in 2000 with the sign we see today. The Littleport Women’s Institute played a key role in the consultation process, and the new sign was unveiled by their then President Mrs Linda Chilvers.
Members of Women’s Institutes enjoy interesting trips and talks as well as the chance to try new activities. The Women’s Institute is also in the forefront of contemporary social issue campaigning.
So why not pop along to the next meeting and you will discover that there is a lot more to the WI than
… ‘just jam and Jerusalem.’