At last the day had arrived, the W.I. was 100 years old. The celebrations had been far reaching and varied, a lot of television programmes had been made, dramas and documentaries. Who could have missed the celebration at The Royal Albert Hall. So in Ulgham WIs 90th year what had we planned as our contribution to this historic event?
Our idea was two fold, firstly, on Wednesdays between 10:00 and !2:00 Ulgham village 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 the same day,16th september, in the WI hall.
What did we want to achieve, well 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 lastly to show case the WI, yes there is jam (rather delicious jam) and yes we do sing Jerusalem at the start of our meetings, but there is so much more. Ulgham WI have some particularly talented members singers, knitters, cake icers, jewellery makers the list could go on and on. We also wanted to highlight the social and political issue which the WI have championed over the years, 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 the various scrapbooks which had been made depicting the story of our WI, we would display the many crafts our members enjoyed, we would show some of the issues that the WI get involved with, and our presidents trip to the Royal Garden Party.
On the day our hall looked wonderful, beautiful crafts, and of course 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 some of our members had skills they had kept hidden! The room was filled with the wonderful sound of constant conversation, the tea and coffee flowed and those cake stands were repeatedly replenished.
In the evening the cheese and wine went down very well, it was a different atmosphere to the early coffee and cake and highlighted the adaptability the the WI and it’s members
We had over sixty people, including some potential new members. Quite a few men, some of whom were regulars of Rendezvous had come and were engrossed in discussions, generated by the scrapbooks, about how the village had changed. One man, our presidents son Tony Brunning, had come 11,000 miles from Cape town, South Africa to be with his mother on this special day. I asked him for a quotation to sum up the occasion but before I end with his quote maybe you should know that the very first WI was formed in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada, that the first WI in Great Britain was in Anglesey, and that Ulgham means home of the owl.
“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.”