Jam, Jerusalem - and darts!

FOR most the mention of the Women's Institute conjures up the image of jam and Jerusalem - not pints of beer and pub games.

Elliot Furniss

FOR most the mention of the Women's Institute conjures up the image of jam and Jerusalem - not pints of beer and pub games.

But dozens of the members of the famous women's movement regularly take part in an Essex-wide darts competition in various pubs, clubs and sports bars.

This week saw the Mile End WI team, from the Myland area of Colchester, take on rivals from the Boxted branch.

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Mile End team captain Liz Hobson said the group had first taken part in the contest four years ago but had been forced to withdraw due to a lack of players.

But now the ladies are back with a bang and have hit the bullseye after recording three victories on the bounce.

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She said: “When I tell people I'm in a darts team they don't believe me. They say 'what? The WI play darts?' and I say 'yes, of course'.

“People just don't believe it. They have this image of the organisation and it's very difficult to get away from that.

“It does get a bit heated at times - you know what WI ladies are like.

“I used to play 30 years ago when I was expecting my first child, and I got back into it through the WI.”

Mrs Hobson stepped up to the oche at Boxted Sports and Social Club on Tuesday night with fellow team members Jill Mills, Pat Joseph, Jackie Wroot, Carol Angel, Jean Barry, Jean Knight and Pam House.

The ladies successfully overcame the challenge from Anne Newman's Boxted team, winning 5-0 on the night.

Mrs Hobson said: “It's just one of the activities that the WI does. We do all sorts of things, we had a croquet day in the summer and we also have a bowls team

“We have a real laugh. Some of us had played before but the others are really new to it and they're doing really well.”

The Mile End team will now enjoy a Christmas break from competition before resuming in the New Year.

If the team tops the Colchester district table, which also features representatives from institutes in Weeley, Great and Little Horkesley and Erdelega - which covers the Ardleigh area - then the ladies will go on to compete to the next level of competition, taking on sides from around Essex.

nThe National Federation of Women's Institutes is the largest voluntary organisation for women in the UK with 205,000 members.

nIt was formed in 1915 with two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War.

nThere are 225 institutes in Essex, the largest federation in the UK with 9,500 members.

nMore recently, the organisation was immortalised in the BBC sitcom Jam and Jerusalem, starring Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Joanna Lumley.

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