The Women’s Institute, (or the WI as it’s more fondly known) is alive and thriving across the country and very much so in this part of the Chilterns. New wave WI’s like Amersham Angels WI have a mixed age group and are very far from the Jam and Jerusalem stereotype. They’re attracting an impressive range of speakers featuring local businesses and national charities such as the Soil Association and The Fawcett Society. A new WI is set to launch in Chalfont St Giles in April.
Today the WI is the largest women’s organisation in the UK and there are over 6000 groups across England and Wales. The WI is a unique organisation shaped by its members, with the motto of “Inspiring Women” at the heart of everything they do. Since 1915 they have set out to give women a voice and to be a force for good in the community.
The WI campaign nationally on issues such as anti-littering in the 1950s, which led to the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, voting for more public information on HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and becoming a founder member of the Fair Trade Foundation in the 1990s. Plus who can forget the slow hand-clap then Prime Minister Tony Blair received from 6000 WI members at the 2000 annual meeting when he used his speech to focus on party political issues instead of the concerns of WI members?
Many will have watched the 2015 film Calendar Girls starring Helen Mirren & Julie Walters based on the real-life events at the Rylstone WI (Yorkshire). Do you remember the immortal line, “We’re going to need considerably bigger buns..”? In addition to WI in villages, towns and cities across the country there are now workplace WIs, virtual/online WIs and there is even a WI within the largest women’s prison in England, named the Bronzefield Bees WI.
There are so many WI groups in the Chilterns meeting both in the evening and during the day. Did you know there are 24 WIs within 10 miles of Amersham? Each one is different, but all share the same aim of encouraging women of all ages to meet, socialise and learn. Each WI holds 11 meetings a year with everything from demonstrations, crafts, speakers, quizzes, games and more. There will always be a break for refreshments – some WI’s have traditional homemade cakes and biscuits whilst others might enjoy a glass of wine. Many WIs also organise additional get-togethers for members during the month focused on activities such as crafts, walking, gardening, coffee mornings, books groups, cinema/theatre trips and more. Here are some of the local WIs in the Metroland area.
• Hyde Heath WI
• Chesham WI
• Ashley Green WI
• Whelpley Hill WI
• Little Chalfont WI
• Ballinger WI
• Chalfont Common WI
• Amersham Angels WI
• Great Missenden WI
• Chorleywood WI
• Penn & Tylers Green WI
• Beaconsfield WI
• Sarratt WI
• Chalfont St Giles WI (a new WI opening in April 2023)
To contact your local WI head to: https://www.thewi.org.uk/ Many WIs are on Facebook where you can keep up with their latest programmes.