THE February meeting was a very special occasion with the village hall packed with members and guests for an evening of celebration for the Institute’s 80th Birthday.

The event had been planned and brought together by long-time members Margaret Fisher, Pearl Mitchell and Margaret Smith so we knew that a wealth of knowledge of local history would be illustrating the development of the Institute from February 1938 to the present day.

The only instruction we had received was to ‘turn up and enjoy ourselves’ and so we did, starting with a canapes and drinks reception. Despite the hall being full to bursting we were able to mingle and admire the wonderful displays - photographs, crafts, publications, including the well-known and much admired ‘Beneath the Clouds’, and fascinating archive material - all the original Minute Books back to 1938, how many WIs can boast that?

We were then invited to take our seats, each bearing a souvenir programme, for a wonderful presentation celebrating the foundation and growth of our WI, truly a ‘multi-media’ event of slides, stories, songs and much laughter. From the inaugural meeting in the room above the pub, in a village with no mains services and little opportunity for women to come together for leisure and learning we learned of the influences and concerns that shaped the growth of our Institute. Who knew that the WI ran a village youth club at one time, was instrumental in getting the mobile cervical screening van to come to Ebrington, or had mapped all the trees in the parish?

The spirit of the evening was summed up in Margot Whorton’s reading of her ode to WI, ‘A Walk of Friendship’ and the cutting of the Birthday Cake, baked by Jean Stanley using her late mother, Glynis Stanley’s recipe. Our President Chrissie Halls then invited us to toast, with cups of tea, our Institute, its past and its future.

Pearl, Margaret Fisher and Margaret Smith were warmly thanked for all the hard work that had gone into such a wonderful event as we look forward to the next milestone birthday.