A woman who credits the Women's Institute with her recovery from drug addiction told her moving story to a packed audience at Elsenham WI.
Joanne Croxford, who was born in Canada to parents who had moved there from Essex, got caught up in drugs and a party lifestyle while working in the fashion industry and music business in her late teens and early 20s.
Moving back to the UK and choosing to live in Cambridge to be closer to her Essex roots, Joanne sought the advice of an ex-boss, joined Narcotics Anonymous and embarked on a full recovery programme.
Joanne, now in her early 30s, found out about the WI by talking to her grandmothers in Farnham and Little Hallingbury about life during the Second World War.
After they died, she had no links to the older generation and sought out the WI as a way of reconnecting. At her first meeting, called to discuss setting up a new institute branch, Joanne was chosen as president of the Cambridge Blue Belles WI.
Since then, as a result of her job in the NHS, Joanne has set up Daisy Change WI in a mental health hospital, welcoming members who are patients and staff, as well as local women
Last year, she helped on the WI stall at the Glastonbury Festival and got a lot of media coverage for the institute. This year, she was asked to appear in the ITV documentary, The Queen At 90.
Joanne has been clean of drugs for more than six years. Going to Glastonbury was, however, a "test of her resolve, but she was gratified to find that she had no desire to drink or take drugs".
"The WI has given me a supportive network of people who love me," said Joanne.
Moyra Jackson, president of Elsenham WI, said: "Joanne is a truly amazing person. We were humbled by her honesty in sharing a very personal story."
Elsenham WI has a full programme of activities and is always keen to welcome guests and new members.
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