Last week we attended our first Women’s Institute meeting in Great Orton, Cumbria. Did you see the movie “Calendar Girls”? Yes,this was a true story of members of a WI chapter in England participating in a fundraiser calendar that featured tastefully nude photographs of them. We didn’t meet any of those members.
The ones we met were very nice, community-minded women (not to say the others weren’t, of course!). WI meetings follow a very strict format. One of the members plays piano as everyone sings the old hymn “Jerusalem”. John actually know this hymn, and he sang along too. Then there’s a business meeting, including a treasurer’s report and discussions of the activities of all the local groups. Then upcoming events, and then a program. At the end of the evening, there’s tea and coffee and goodies, followed by a social time, some contests and a final singing of “God Save the Queen”.
Sounds like a quilting meeting, doesn’t it? Except for the singing at the beginning and the end, it could easily have been an audience full of quilters. Some of them were quilters, and I could see the recognition in their faces as we sang. Some were not, and so we translated all the quilting terminology for them.
Before the evening was over, I was asked to judge their creative contributions. There were a number of small card tables set up at the back of the room. Each chapter (this was a group meeting of about 10 local chapters) was asked to design a table featuring a musical theme. They brought sheet music, figurines playing instruments, knick-knacks, musical fabric, records and CDs, even a guitar tuner and metronome, all very elegantly presented. I have never seen such an interesting grouping of stuff – all from members’ homes. It was a challenge to judge the top three entries. I must say I was so overwhelmed by all this, that I forgot to take any pictures, so I’m sorry I can’t show you the winning entries.
It was a fun evening. Maybe someday in the future they may choose to do an innovative, risque calendar, but for now, they will continue to meet regularly, munch yummy biscuits, sip tea and enjoy the camaraderie. And maybe, I have encouraged some of them to try their hands at quilting.
Tags: Women's Institute