Here we are – another month on and still waiting for life to go back to normal! What can you put in an article about a group which hasn’t been able to meet since March? Well, one thing that came to mind was the news that, in December 2020, Nether Heyford WI will celebrate their 90th Anniversary! During a conversation with Mo Wright (a long time member) I discovered that she had a back copy of The Prattler with an article about the 50th Anniversary celebrations – memories galore with many good old Nether Heyford names that people will no doubt remember.
During 1930 three ladies, Mrs J. O. Adams, Mrs Punch and Mrs George were walking back to their homes in Nether Heyford. They had been attending the monthly meeting of the Womens Institute in Bugbrooke, where they had been members for three years. As they walked along the quiet lane, they discussed the formation of a branch of the W.I. in Nether Heyford and Mrs Adams volunteered to see the County Secretary at W.I. House in Northampton. When the required 10 ladies had been gathered together, the great day arrived and the foundation papers were duly signed in November 1930. In actual fact there were 48 members present, far more than the required 10! Mrs Adams was the first President, Mrs George the Secretary and their monthly meetings were held in the school where Mrs Carrington, the Headmaster’s wife, supplied the hot water to make the tea. Cups and saucers were loaned by the Baptist Chapel, carried over in a clothes basket and then washed up at home before their return!! By the first Annual Report on December 3rd 1931 they had purchased ‘6 doz of crockery and spoons, an aluminium tea urn and a large tea pot’. Obviously the clothes basket was too heavy!
Their activities were varied, sometimes a speaker on a subject of interest to countrywomen, competitions of all kinds, an Old Tyme Dancing class and Keep Fit classes run by Mrs Blaney. Subscriptions were 2/6d. They corresponded for many years with a group in Queensland, Australia and forged another link, nearer to home, with the Delapre Townswomen’s Guild. It was realised that the village needed a focal point for expanding activities. Fund raising of all kinds, including a Garden Party at Manor House, then occupied by The Vice President Mrs Shiel, raised a sum of £100. ”An ankle competition had been suggested and the Secretary was asked to see Capt. Shiel, Mr Knight and Mr Whitton with regard to judging same”. The minutes never revealed which gentleman was given the job!! As you know, the Village Hall was eventually built by volunteers in 1960 and is still the meeting place of Nether Heyford WI.
Our WI has taken part in raising funds for many charities, assisted at the Blood Donor Clinics, held Annual Produce Shows, have attended the Queen’s Garden party at Buckingham Palace, won the shield for handicrafts at the County Show In Nether Heyford and won the County General Knowledge Quiz in 1968. This was all in our first 50 years – what we do next is down to us!
So, we look backward to our Golden Jubilee Celebration and forward to our Ninetieth Birthday Celebration and see how life has changed in 40 years. There are many differences – those in travel, technology, communication and attitudes being just a few. Some of these have altered the way in which the Women’s Institute functions and few letters change hands now with emails having taken over. But the pandemic has brought some of the WI’s original baking skills back into fashion, with the entire nation rushing to buy flour and cake ingredients! However, the basic foundation of the WI hasn’t changed. In Nether Heyford there is still as much friendship, good humour and interest in other people’s life stories and crafts, as well as the love of our village life, that there ever was. If, when all this is over and you feel you would like to come to join us for an evening, please do. We would love to see you!
Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101