Celebrating 70 Years of Norbury and District’s WI

As Norbury and District WI celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, it wasn’t just a milestone in time, but a testament to the enduring spirit of women coming together in our rural community.

Founded in 1954, Norbury and District WI has been a cornerstone of the community, providing a platform for women of all ages and backgrounds to meet, learn and socialise. What started as a small gathering of like-minded individuals has grown into a valued community group, advocating through its national membership for important causes, supporting local initiatives, enjoying social activities and fostering lifelong friendships along the way.

On 9 May, the Norbury and District WI came together, along with the Chair and Treasurer of the Shropshire Federation, WI and guests from five other WIs. They reflected on the past 70 years with a 1950’s themed celebration in our Village Hall. Members were invited to a ‘Proper 1950’s Tea Party’ with decorative bunting, 1950’s music, a display from the archives, a craft table and raffle and a beautiful birthday cake provided by Doris Roberts, a founding member. Many of those attending dressed in 1950’s outfits completing the 50’s atmosphere.
Some attendees including Doris Roberts, a founding member, have shared their thoughts and favourite memories of the group’s evolution:

“Mrs Tudge, the Headmistress of Norbury School had previously lived where they had a Women’s Institute and was a member. She decided to go about setting one up here and in May 1954 the first meeting of the Norbury and District WI was formed. The district covered Ratlinghope, Wentnor, Prolly Moor, Asterton, Myndtown and Whitcott and very few people had cars then, so George Cooke’s school bus was hired to transport members to the meetings. Mrs Rogers-Coltman Snr from The Home was our first President, and the meetings were held in the school. When the Village Hall was purchased, the meetings moved there and continued to be held in our lovely new Hall. I have had the privilege to be President, Social Secretary, Treasurer and Programme Secretary over the years. Norbury has always been a very active WI and we have always had very talented members. I have met some wonderful friends over the years who I would not have met otherwise.” Doris Roberts, Bishops Castle.

“I’ve been part of the WI for 68 years. I’ve loved everything so it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite moment, but they include rounders, darts, skittles, drama, the many trips we’ve been on, educational speakers and of course, all the fun and laughter we have. I’ve travelled to so many places I wouldn’t normally have had the chance to go to as a farmer’s wife!” Brenda Jones, Asterton.

“I’ve been part of the WI since I was 16 years old in 1959 – it has all been happy memories. It was very special when we used to take the senior citizens out, they were so thrilled. We went on train trips all around the country, and of course, we hadn’t been on trains much back then. For me, it’s always been about giving back to our community.” Margaret Cooke, Ratlinghope.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the national WI is its ability to adapt and evolve with the times. The organisation has used its influence on a wide range of issues, from food security to healthcare, from education to environmental conservation. It has empowered local groups through informational workshops and encouraged fundraising for local charitable causes. In this way the WI has consistently demonstrated its commitment to making a difference.

Over the past seven decades, Norbury and District WI has been an active supporter of these national initiatives, but perhaps its most enduring legacy is the opportunities and sense of community it offers its members. It is a place of fun and laughter and for many women, joining the WI is more than just joining a club, it is joining a network of support and encouragement where they can pursue their passions, develop new skills, share knowledge, lend a helping hand where needed and take on leadership roles within their communities.

As Norbury and District WI celebrates its past, it also looks forward to a future where the values of the WI – equality, sharing knowledge and enjoyment – are more than just ideals, but realities for all.

Happy anniversary, Norbury and District WI! Here’s to many more years of inspiration and impact.

Find out how to be part of Norbury and District Women’s Institute