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Is the WI still relevant today? One branch celebrates 100 years

PUBLISHED: 10:00 11 August 2018

The original committee of Long Melford WI at Melford Hall. Date Unknown.

The original committee of Long Melford WI at Melford Hall. Date Unknown.

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One hundred years on, a Suffolk branch of the Women’s Institute is still inspiring women.

The current committee of Long Melford WI. Photo: Julie Thomson.The current committee of Long Melford WI. Photo: Julie Thomson.

Long Melford WI has celebrated its centenary with a garden party at Melford Hall.

The organisation, which has moved away from its ‘jam and Jerusalem’ image, feels it still has something to offer the women of today.

Originally formed to support the war effort, friendship is what has carried the group forward over the years.

Rosey Eade, treasurer of Long Melford WI, said: “We mainly do it for friendship. It’s quite daunting if you move to a village and are on your own.

Long Melford Women's Institute celebrated its 100th birthday with a garden party at Melford Hall on August7. Picture: Julie Thomson.Long Melford Women's Institute celebrated its 100th birthday with a garden party at Melford Hall on August7. Picture: Julie Thomson.

“Where do you go to make friends if you are no longer working? I think that’s one of the heart-warming stories of it: people have come and have found lasting friendships.”

Long Melford WI was founded in 1918 after word of the movement reached the UK from Canada.

The WI’s motto was “For Home and Country”, with the aim of improving the home and helping the country.

In Long Melford, thousands of jars of jam were sold during the 1940s to help fund the war effort and members baked 10,000 pies to feed farm workers and sent hampers to sailors on minesweepers.

The tradition of a summer garden party at Melford Hall was established courtesy of its first president, Lady Edith Hyde Parker.

Also to mark the centenary, 24 members celebrated at the Black Lion in Long Melford with a meal followed by a cake made by local baker Darryll Tanswell.

Jane Ebejer, president of Long Melford WI, said: “It is a great achievement for our village and we are proud to be continuing to inspire women with our monthly meetings at the Old School on the second Thursday of the month at 7.15pm, fundraising events and outings.”

The Melford group did suffer a period of closure in 2015, but since reforming in the July of that year it has built up its numbers to 25.

Mrs Eade said they are a diverse group of women, aged from about 30 to 85.

Babs Bayes-Crysell, who joined the WI at the age of 16, has been a member for 50 years - an achievement that was celebrated at the garden party.

Anyone interested in joining Long Melford WI should contact them via email.

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