The Bedfordshire Beauty Rose. A beautiful white rose with a strong scent- supplied either bare rooted or gift wrapped in a 3.5L pot.
Available to Pre-Order for dispatch this Autumn.
Single Rose – member offer £8.99
Single Rose – non-member £10.99
Triple Rose Pack – member offer £22.97 (save £4)
Triple Rose Pack – non-member £29.97 (save £3)
Five Rose Pack – member offer £34.95 (save £10)
Five Rose Pack – non member £49.95 (save £5)
Member Offer – per rose £17.99
Non-member – per rose £19.99
Post & Packing for each order £5.95
Bedfordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes was formed on 27th September 1919. The WI movement had come to the County in 1917 with the formation of Dunstable WI (unfortunately, this disbanded and reformed many years later, and is no longer the oldest in the County) and by 1918 eight Institutes had been formed of which 6 Institutes are still running. Our first County Chairman was Mrs M Whitbread of Southhill, she was of course, a member of the famous brewing family.
So why was the WI so successful? Women had been flexing their political muscles before the War with the suffragette movement and during the war they had worked in industry and on the land whilst there men folk were fighting. Imagine the country in 1918 when a war had just been won, but at a terrible cost. Most women had lost a son, brother or husband or had a relative who had been left with terrible injuries. The women had common ground – loss.
Women obviously felt the need to come together for friendship and support as they tried to rebuild their lives and the WI must have helped to fill that need, as by the end of 1920, 21 institutes had been formed in Bedfordshire. A year later in 1922 there were 30 WI’s in the County with over 1500 members and by 1930, 49 WI’s with a total membership of 2655.
In 1940, the first full year of the Second World War, members enthusiastically answered the call of the Ministry of Food to start a preservation scheme for the war effort. In 1940 alone this Federation made 44,800 pounds of preserves, using 9 tons of sugar. No wonder the WI is well known for its jam! One WI made 250 pounds of jelly and another 6 gallons of tomato sauce, our preserves must have been exceptional as we supplied Harrods!
All our WI’s were actively involved in community war work including vegetable growing, raising monies for ambulances, canteens for troops, clubs for evacuees, comforts and welfare work for local troops and the home guard to name but a few.
In 1953 we had 101 WI’s with a membership of 5000, we were allocated 4 tickets to attend Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s Coronation. Four WI members were drawn out of a ballot and were able to attention on behalf of the County.
In 1969 our Golden Jubilee we had 5,400 members and by 1973 we were able to buy our own headquarters in Adelaide Square with the help of our then County Chairman Margaret Polhill. An interest free loan was given by Mr Polhill and this was repaid by the membership within 3 years of the purchase.
Women’s lives and expectations have change dramatically over the last 100 years of the Federation. More and more women are employed outside the home and have access to their own transport which obviously has made them more mobile. With these changes in circumstances, women are able to enjoy other activities outside their village or town environment and unfortunately the WI does not have the same appeal.
Fortunately, as the national perception has changed since the Millennium, there has been an upsurge in interest and membership of the WI. Younger women who want to get involved with campaigns, who may never have learnt to make jam or do handicrafts have found the WI a fountain of knowledge. New WI’s are springing up nationally everywhere and in busy cities and areas like Covent Garden, Ealing and Islington all in London, as well as in the workplace.
In Bedfordshire in 2018, we opened 2 new WI’s and now have 83 in total within the County and a membership in excess of 2,900. We as a Federation have obviously had to move with the times, especially in this technological world of email and social media which give us another platform to keep in touch with our members and share events, passions and knowledge.
If Adelaide Hoodless of Stoney Creek from Canada, hadn’t have had the foresight (after the loss of a child through the lack of knowledge of basic hygiene), to set up Institutes to arrange lectures and classes in domestic science and home crafts to be made available to local women, the WI would not exist today.
Cheers to our next 100 years!!!
Bedfordshire Federation of WI’s