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Woodcroft WI celebrates 40 years

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

Thumbs up for four decades of Woodcroft WI.

Thumbs up for four decades of Woodcroft WI.

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MEMBERS of a women-only friendship organisation in Leek are celebrating four decades of the group.

The Woodcroft Women's Institute, which now meets at St Luke's Church once a month, is 40 this year.

Woodcroft WI, which currently has 33 members, is co-chaired by Lynda Wakeham and Ann Smith.

Lynda, who has been a member of the WI for more than 35 years, said: "Most of us joined the WI as young mums.

"It was something to get us out of the house and also to be able to meet new people.

"We are always on the look out for new members.

"There are young members in the WI, especially in the new groups which are starting in the cities."

Lynda said the three main attributes of their WI group are: friendship, new activities, and learning.

She said: "As well as the friendships we gain in being part of the WI, we get the chance to do things that we would perhaps not do on our own. We also learn quite a bit from the speakers we have and from each other."

The Woodcroft WI was set up in October 1974, and has had a number of meeting places, starting at Woodcroft First School in Wallbridge Drive.

The group later held its meetings at Bank House in St Edward Street, and then Milward Hall in Salisbury Street, before moving venue to St Luke's Church in Fountain Street, where the ladies now meet, every second Monday of the month at 7.30pm. Different guest speakers are invited to each meeting, with Monday's being representatives of the Leek's Food Bank. As part of their celebrations of four decades of the group, the members are currently working through 40 activities and events including hosting a coffee morning, a trip to Churnet Valley Railway, the production of a special table cloth with Leek's skyline embroidered on it, an exercise class just for the group at Brough Park Leisure Centre, a scrap book of the year's activities, and many more.

Lynda said: "Our aim for the 40 activities is to make them all fun. There will be some for charity, some for ourselves and some that we do anyway."

The Woodcroft WI's 40th Anniversary Coffee Morning will be held at Trinity Church in Derby Street in Leek on Friday, May 2 between 9am and 1pm. The members will be making 40 homemade cakes and 40 pots of jams to sell at the event.

The Women's Institute (WI) was nationally formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War.

Since then the organisation's aims have broadened and the WI is now the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK.

The WI will celebrate its centenary next year and currently has more than 210,000 members in around 6,600 WIs.

The WI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

For further information about the WI and how to get involved, go online to www.thewi.org.uk.

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