Elsenham WI – the 'cool' sisterhood doubles its membership
By Herts & Essex Observer Posted: April 10, 2016
The Women's Institute (WI) in Elsenham has more than doubled in size in 18 months, with 55 women now members of the branch.
The media spotlight on the WI as a result of its centenary celebrations last year has helped to boost interest, and television programmes like Home Fires, the ITV drama serial about the lives of WI members on the Home Front during the Second World War, have played their part.
In Elsenham, group members have done their bit by encouraging new and old friends and neighbours to join.
As well as the traditional monthly meetings with speakers on a wide range of subjects, Elsenham WI organises a host of activities – "natter and craft" nights, workshops on things like breadmaking and computer and social media skills, a regular Nordic walking group and informal social gatherings for coffee, lunch or dinner.
Members actively support community campaigns and events including knitting poppies to raise money for the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal campaign or crocheting blankets for a hospital baby unit .
Lindsey Peters, who has lived in the village for 22 years and joined the WI last year, said: "The range of people I've met is far more diverse than I had ever imagined. Women from all walks of life and of all ages are drawn to it.
"It's a sisterhood where everybody has something different to bring and where whatever you bring is valued and celebrated."
At 25, Lynsey Jackson is one of the youngest members of Elsenham WI.
"From what I was told about the WI over the years, I really expected it to be an older generation who sat and chatted about baking and knitting. Now I know how wrong that was," she said.
"We made wine glass charms the first meeting I came to – how cool is that? Since I've joined, I have met so many amazing people and taken part in exciting crafts."
As well as extending their knowledge and skills, for many the WI is somewhere that they can meet and socialise.
Linda Younie, who joined in 2015, said: "It's a wonderful group of people, all so friendly that I felt I fitted in from day one. My social life is now busy and I'm having a great time."
Denise Shipp, who also joined in 2015 and has already run a successful line dancing taster evening for fellow members, said: "I walk around the village and I'm constantly bumping into ladies that I now know and that makes me happy.
"It's a year since I joined the WI and I've enjoyed everything – it's been a joy."
Although Elsenham WI has doubled in numbers, it is keen to grow further. A packed programme of activities is planned and visitors are welcome