Hundreds of women gathered at Norfolk Women’s Institute centenary event with Pam Ayres
PUBLISHED: 16:25 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:55 21 March 2019
Copyright: Archant 2019
More than a thousand women from across the county came together to celebrate 100 years of the Norfolk Federation of WIs.
The milestone occasion paid homage to important events in women’s history in the past century, including the suffragette movement and women’s war effort.
The Norfolk WI annual meeting at Norwich Theatre Royal on Thursday opened with a speech by the former theatre chief executive Peter Wilson before the formal meeting commenced.
The celebration continued in the afternoon with guest speaker Pam Ayres, who entertained guests before hosting a Q&A session and book-signing.
Norfolk Federation of WIs chairman Margaret Collingwood said the event celebrated the changes in women’s lives in Norfolk in the past 100 years, with the federation boasting a membership of more than 5,000 people.
“It’s wonderful that the WI has continued to grow and adapt to people’s needs, it’s still relevant today,” she said.
“Today was about bringing members together, there is a real common bond that keeps us all together and that’s what makes a day like this so fabulous.
“It’s wonderful to see so many members here enjoying themselves.”
The celebratory meeting was also attended by WI national chairman Lynne Stubbings.
She said: “It was an interesting time for women 100 years ago and it’s no coincidence that so many WIs started up during the aftermath of the war, women found a voice.
“We can tell from the buzz from today that the members came together to bond and meet somebody for the first time.”
Kathryn Relton has been a member of the Walsingham WI for two years. She had joined the group after her mother, a former member, died two years ago.
“It is a nice link I have with my mother,” she said.
“It’s so exciting to celebrate 100 years. We had a talk about the suffragettes and their link with the WI, it feels historic and important to be here.”
Anne Hackett, member of Mulbarton Evening WI, said: “It has been wonderful to meet people from the main office and to realise they are ordinary, down-to-earth people and all good-humoured. They are all very friendly.”