Thursday, 24 September 2015

Minchinhampton Flower Festival celebrates 100 years of the WI

Guest blog by Germaine Ballinger, member of Minchinhampton WI and Box WI, and GFWI Public Affairs Committee

This autumn our biennial Country Fayre returned to Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire. It is a wonderful community affair with a town crier, jester, parade of vintage cars, a children's pageant based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and lots more.

The Minchinhampton Flower Festival, held over three days in our beautiful fourteenth century church, is a popular element and this year the Flower Guild chose the WI Centenary as their theme.

The Flower Guild of the church invited five local WIs and another Flower Club to depict an aspect of the WI over the years using flowers and artifacts to portray the scene or message. Each institute decorated an area of the church and the presentation of the flower arrangements were designed to reflect some of our campaigns.

Minchinhampton WI chose the recent 'Saving Our Honey Bees', complete with a hive and beekeeping gear, a honey cake made by our newest member, plus an array of flowers attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Box WI collected many fly-tipping pieces and natural material to illustrate the 1950s 'Keep Britain Tidy' campaign with photographs of members collecting rubbish from our nearby 600 acres of common land.  

A colourful display by Avening WI around the pulpit and in front of the chancel screen showed the WI and 'Dig For Victory', and the work of the WI between 1940 and 1945  in preserving nearly 12 million pounds of fruit which would otherwise have been wasted! 

An evocative display for those of us who have been to Denman was designed by Nailsworth WI. It showed the extensive range of activities and courses we members and our families are able to enjoy at Denman.  

A delightful scene which conjured up images from the TV series 'Call the Midwife', with its upright bicycle with front basket, nurse's  bag of instruments, and cradle was depicted by Brimscombe and Thrupp WI.  It illustrated the 1931 resolution for better medical supervision of pregnant women in rural areas and the 1947 successful campaign to allow rural midwives to use analgesics plus the recent campaign to employ more midwives.

Many other aspects were displayed by the Flower Guild and Nailsworth Flower Club, including representation of the WI anthem Jerusalem in the chancel and behind the altar, the 'WI as a Force for Change: 100 years of Campaigns and the Demand for Equal Pay in 1943', WI Market stalls, WI badges over the years. and floral pictures on the pillars showing other aspects of WI life.

We also had a stand showing the WI today, including pictures of the smiling Queen and members of her family celebrating the centenary with us at the Royal Albert Hall. A visitor from Sheffield while looking at this display was delighted to recognise her daughter on the front of the membership leaflet which shows members of Seven Hills WI dancing with their umbrellas under the spray from fountains!

The result of the wonderful collaboration of the groups across our community was both beautiful and informative.  So many visitors were were amazed at their creativity, but also at how much the WI does and has done over the past century.

1 comment:

  1. What a marvellous celebration of our Centenary, Germaine! Thank you for sharing the details of the work of our talented members.

    Gill (Avening WI, Gloucestershire Federation)