100 years of friendship celebrated at cross-county WI group

A Women's Institute has celebrated 100 years of get-togethers, friendship and fundraising in Shropshire.

Mucklestone WI celebrating 100 years this year
Mucklestone WI celebrating 100 years this year

Women's Institute's around the country are famous for the companionship, friendship and creativity they bring to many women's lives.

Mucklestone WI, based on the Shropshire and Staffordshire border near Market Drayton, has celebrated its centenary this year with days out, visits from different speakers, and lots of cake and meet-ups.

President of Mucklestone WI, Ruth Lloyd
P. Bourne and Sue Simmons. Sue made this regular magazines during lockdown, with stories and jokes to keep up the spirits of the group

Ruth Lloyd has been the president of Mucklestone WI since 2005, when she took over from Eunice Armstrong, who was president of the club for over 20 years.

Due to its border location, the club attracts people from Shropshire, Staffordshire and even Cheshire, and Ruth says they are always so pleased to welcome new faces.

Ruth said the club probably hasn't changed as much as you'd expect since it was formed in 1921, but they have a lot more Zoom meetings now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

"There are more clubs and groups available now but many years ago the WI was for people who did not see many others or go out much," Ruth explained.

Sandra Pearce, with a photo of herself in a book celebrating Mucklestone WI
Mucklestone WI. In the middle in green is President: Ruth Lloyd and with her in no particular order is: Sandra Pearce, Margaret Capper, Doreen Brassington, Sue Simmons, P Bourne, Ann McCullagh, Joan Horton, Monique Atkins and Liz Vallings

"It did not matter if you were a young mother with two or three children at home stuck in the house while your husband was at work, or if you were an older lady looking to make friends. It was somewhere fun where they could pop in and say hello.

"The WI has also always been about learning. Being able to learn something new each month as a WI member was really important to some women.

"Having different speakers come in to speak to us about different things, from crafts to gardening, is a wonderful way of learning new skills.

"People are welcome at any of our events, you don't have to join straight away, you can just pop in and say hello, get to know us.

Monique Atkins, of Mucklestone WI, with old press cuttings
Mucklestone WI's Christmas party hat parade 1980's, Barbara Whalley, Eunice Armstrong and Jim Furnival

"It isn't only a once a month event either, we might meet up in town or host coffee mornings or fundraisers throughout the month. People in the area know to call us for fundraising help."

The group has many members who have kept it going over the years, but Elizabeth Adams is one of the longest-attending members, Ruth said.

"Elizabeth Adams is probably one of our longest attending members, as well as Eunice Armstrong before she moved to Wales to be with her daughter," Ruth explained.

"Local people are what keeps these clubs going, people like Elizabeth and Sue Simmons, they would do anything for us.

Mucklestone WI in 2016 and the Bra-Sket competition. Flowers in bras... L-R: Karen Cliffe, Sue Simmons, Elizabeth Adams, Ruth Lloyd
President Ruth Lloyd with the members of Mucklestone WI at the Loggerheads, Market Drayton

"We have lots of happy memories together, but I'm sure it hasn't changed that much since it was formed in 1921."

Every twelve months the Staffordshire WI Federation, of which Mucklestone is part of, has two meetings where we all meet and gather at the County Showground in Staffordshire.

As well as this, the local WI groups in Broughton, Ashley, Mucklestone and Maer all come together regularly to host joint meetings. Twice a year they usually meet up and take turns to host, make refreshments and organise.

This year, Broughton, Ashley and Mucklestone WI all had a centenary to celebrate. As part of the 100th anniversary celebrations, Broughton hosted all the members in its parish rooms and welcomed Winston Churchill himself – cigar and all, Ruth said, to talk about his life and they all sang songs together.

The three clubs were also presented with a 100 year certificate from the president of the Staffordshire WI Federation, Helen Newman.

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