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Centenary for Gumley W.I.

Gumley WI reached its 100th Birthday on 8 January which we celebrated at our January meeting. With a special Celebration cake, Prosecco and refreshments.

On 8 January 1918 a group of ladies from Gumley met up in a house in the village, to inaugurate this new branch of The Women’s Institute.

  • In March 1918 members formed a Lending Library with 37 members.

  • A Village Nurse was appointed by the end of 1918

  • The branch had 57 members at its first AGM in 1919.

  • Members arranged a Tea Party for the village children in 1922, to celebrate the marriage of Princess Mary to Viscount Lascelles.

  • We were winners of the Fernie Rose Bowl in 1978 and again in 1985.

  • In 1997, Gumley ladies, representing Fernie Group South, won the County Darts Competition.

Between the Wars members arranged choral singing and folk dancing classes. A number of competitions and fund raising events were organised, for example: in 1926 members were invited ‘to prepare the best meal for a hungry man for 9d’!


In 1930 two sacks of potatoes, grown by members, were sent to the Leicester Royal Infirmary. In 1938 with war looming, the nurse gave several lectures to the group and a First Aid course was held, to help members cope with possible casualties.


During the 1939-45 war, members took a number of initiatives including donating 2d each to the Red Cross, towards the purchase of an ambulance.


A prisoner of war was adopted and contributions made to supply him with comforts.

W.I meetings were opened to evacuees, ten members from the Displaced Women’s Association were invited to social evenings and servicemen at Gumley Hall were entertained.


After the War, fund raising continued, for example, a collection of clothing was made for the victims of the disastrous floods in 1953.


10 January 2018 meeting

Our committee updated us on upcoming events, members’ birthdays, resolution forms and ideas for our trip to celebrate our centenary. Two new members were introduced. We then got together for a Centenary photograph, taken by our Speaker for the evening Heather Jacks, winner of the 2014 ‘Great British Sewing Bee’.

Heather regaled us with stories of her experience of taking part in the competition, from filling out the entry form online (24 hours before the deadline!), because she was at a loose end waiting for her Husband, (who was stuck on the motorway), never thinking that she would hear back! She hadn’t done any sewing for years although she had made all of her clothes when she was younger, having been taught to sew aged nine, by her Grandmother and Mum and continuing to learn in school.

When she received a call from the programme makers, inviting her for an interview, she was shocked and filled with dread! They asked her to bring some items that she had made and she chose two items that she had made over 25 years previously! After a camera test, a voice check and some practical sewing tests, Heather was surprised when they chose her to appear. Modestly saying that her plan was ‘to keep it simple’, she was relieved and proud to be the winner. Heather had brought some of the items she made in the competition and everyone agreed that she was a very worthy winner.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 12 February at 7.30pm in Gumley Village Hall; our speaker will be Jess Dixon, Rainbows Children’s Hospice.

Guests and New Members are welcome and invited to join us.     


Lynda Chapman


Kibworth and Smeeton WI


We began our special year with a well-attended meeting of ‘Judge and Jury’. Entertaining us were Harry and Janet Wroe and friends as ‘Judges’, resplendent in knitted wigs, and a clerk of the court. We members divided ourselves into four ‘Juries', each nominating a foreman, ready to deliver our verdicts on each of five cases - all of them real.



The clerk read and explained the plaintiff’s case and the evidence from both sides, after which jurors from all four teams could ask questions before considering their verdicts. This made for a very lively evening with much laughter and heated discussion. Some cases beggared belief and we had to remind ourselves that they were real! The most successful ‘Jury’ won a large box of chocolates, which didn’t last long!


On Sunday 4 February our President, Hazel Taylor, attended an event in Leicester to mark the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave the first women the right to vote. In particular it was to honour Leicester’s famous suffragette, Alice Hawkins, who was jailed no less than five times during her struggles.


Hazel writes: “What a wonderful atmosphere as the crowd cheered and applauded when the seven feet tall bronze statue of Alice Hawkins was unveiled in Leicester’s new market square. The unveiling was preceded by a march of suffragettes bearing huge banners. City councillor and one-woman show Elaine Pantling, played the part of Alice and re-enacted one of her stirring soap-box speeches. She was joined by Alice’s great-grandson, Peter Barratt, who said that he is extremely proud of the woman who contributed so much to the campaign for equality for women. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to pay homage to all the brave women who fought so hard for something that we in this country now take for granted. The fight goes on for women elsewhere”.


We all look forward to 14 March when we will host the annual Fernie South Group Meeting for members from Foxton, Gumley, Fleckney and new Group members Kilby WI. We will meet Rosie Hughes, Nosegay Maker to the Queen, at 7.30pm, with a change of venue to St Wilfrid’s Church Hall.                                                   


Pat Sharman


Illston WI Skittles Night


In order to blow away those extra pounds put on over Christmas, Illston-on-the-Hill WI arranged an in-house skittles competition for our first meeting of the year. This was an absolute hoot - the skittles are quite large, the gaps are not so large, but still the wretched bowl goes through the middle! How does that happen? Actually if not through the middle certainly off course to the sides! Rhena was our hands down champion by some way, so congratulations. Our photograph shows the encouragement (or otherwise)!


We always have a competition and each year it is a different theme, either a coloured item, an item beginning with a specific letter, etc. This year the committee came up with a different idea; materials. So January was paper, February is silk, and so on.


This actually brought up some really original ideas from members. Hazel was our winner - much deserved as she arranged the skittles match. Our next meeting is belly dancing, so will update you next month.   


Jane Shute


 Issue 399
February 2018

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