Poem by E. M. Bailey


It seems to be WI fashion

To tell all your history in rhyme.

We've never been known for conforming

But we'll do our best this time.


Our saga began in December

A full fifty years ago,

When the group who became founder members

Decided to give it a go.


They started with twenty four members

A nice little group was it not?

And strangely enough, despite changes,

That number is what we've still got.


The war was our first real challenge

When meetings were spent making jam

The minutes give prices for piglets!

So together with jam went ham!


Our sessions of jamming and canning

Bring memories back by the score

Such as rhubarb sticks put in whole as they were

The army still came back for more.


The sessions we had with the canner

Needed gallons of water to cool

So, because of a drain that didn't connect

A cellar became - well - a pool!


We spent many hours in repairing

The havoc that flooding did cause,

So the next lot of cans were sealed at the home

of one with her own watercourse


Now that shops were getting quite empty

We made almost everything

We upholstered our chairs, we made our own shoes,

We even made mats with farm string.


As our President was Red X Leader

That let us in for the lot.

We went 'Penny a week' collecting

First Aid Certificates we've got.


The most serious part of our saga

Happened in the year'49

We were on our way to a meeting

And travelling along very fine


The weather it was quite atrocious.

A lorry was lumbering along

When suddenly our bus was crashed into bits

And most of our senses had gone.


Tis better if we can forget pain and fear

And of that night sufficient to say.,

That of all thirty two involved in that crash

Not one of us could walk away.


To say that W.I. members are friends

Was certainly true that day

For eighty groups all over the land

Offered help in many a way.


The locals took washing, did cooking at home,

Took gifts to the hospital wards,

And those far afield offered homes for a rest

And cash if we should be in need.


Twas six months before we returned to the fold

And some of our number had gone.

The rest of the group put a show on one night

To convince us we did still belong.


The years that followed were gentler by far

As we slowly got back into gear,

And we set about learning many new skills

At classes we held each year.


We knitted and crocheted, did wickerwork too,

Made stools, cushion covers, and hats;

Made toys for the children, and lampshades galore,

And arrangements of flowers to attract.


The benefits of all this striving and strain

Were seen when we entered the show

We didn't do much in the first few years

But soon we were raring to go.


The year'66 was the first time we won;

We'd proved that our tactics were sound

We took the shield eight times in twelve years,

A triumph of which we are proud.


The rest of the prizes fell into our grasp

As our cooks and craftswomen too

Brought out the best from their repertoire

And showed what we could do.


And now we have reached our fiftieth year

Our story is right up to date,

Although we've travelled through so many years

It didn't take long to relate.


We've made lots of friends who've lasted the course

And many more new ones too.

But there's just one person who's carried us on

The whole of the fifty years through.


We had one leader the whole of the time,

The Institute really is hers.

If Miss Hewitt had never started us off

There wouldn't have been any verse.