Article by Sally Dowling
As Victoria Wood said, ‘You know when you are getting old when you look at Scholl sandals and think ‘my they look comfy’!
Well the same could be said of the Women’s Institute, so I decided to check out my local group and make up my own mind. Never mind being Fab After 50, I am heading towards being Sensational in my Sixties, and I am beginning to have some spare time.
Like Saga Holidays and of course, Scholl sandals, the WI does conjure up preconceived ideas but don’t knock it ‘til you have tried it.
An organisation that can appeal to all ages
Since ‘Calendar Girls’ the WI has been recognised as an organisation that can appeal to all ages, but it does depend on the group you choose to join. Generally speaking, evening groups will have a younger membership just because so many of us are still working in the daytime. My hours are flexible so I turned up unannounced at an afternoon group on a miserable February afternoon. The hall was bursting to the rafters with ladies of a certain age all chattering away and very welcoming. I was instantly steered towards a lovely woman of around my own age who sat me down with a group and made some introductions. That afternoon there was a talk on Italian cooking which was informative with plenty of tasting opportunities along the way. Next came the obligatory tea and biscuits and a chance to hear about all the splinter groups within this branch. A walking group, a weekly craft get together, trips out, interesting speakers booked up a year in advance and fund raising events. Every now and again they hold in depth discussions on news worthy topics and I was interested to hear about the WI’s own Denman College where members can visit, stay over and participate and learn so many different subjects.
Enjoying all the WI has to offer
I really enjoyed my afternoon and have since joined the group. Yes, most members are a good 10 years older than me but I find that very appealing. I want to get to know these active and focussed women over the next few months and find out what they have done with their lives. Some probably gave up their own jobs to raise families in the 60’s and 70’s, when it was generally expected that you follow your husband and support his career. Maybe some lived abroad, or did follow their own vocation and I am sure there are some very successful women now enjoying all that the WI has to offer.
Keeping up with the times, the organisation has a strong online presence in its website https://www.thewi.org.uk/which provides information, ideas and opportunities for learning and education.
As for Jam, Jerusalem and big hats, I have yet to come across them!
Sally has had a long and exciting career in the travel industry and now enjoys freelance travel & lifestyle writing and guest blogging. It gives her great pleasure to recommend somewhere that she has enjoyed so that others can share the experience. Follow her blog at http://sallydowling.co.uk/