Forest Gate WI launch

Over 120 women of all ages attended the launch of the new Forest Gate Women’s Institute (WI) on Tuesday proving that it is not all jam and Jerusalem.

Organisers said they were expecting half that amount to turn up but were inundated with members as hoards of women queued around the Durning Hall Community Centre in Earlham Grove to sign up.

The idea to launch a branch of the WI in Forest Gate began with a small group of local women who were already involved in a number of community projects.

The initial response was overwhelmingly positive and they duly consulted experienced representatives from the Essex Federation before making plans.

On the night, enthusiasm proved contagious as women volunteered to take on roles within the committee and suggested a wide range of activities and possible speakers.

Melanie Warner, who contacted the Recorder, said: “In an economic recession with a spirit of “mend and make do”, the WI appears to be enjoying a national revival.

“Women are celebrating their achievements and careers but also want to reclaim more traditional skills and crafts.

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“The scale of the support for the new venture in Forest Gate would suggest that the WI as an institution still has much to offer contemporary women.”

Liz and Trish, who officiated the event, took those assembled through the origins of the WI and its campaigning heritage and reminded them of the modern institution it has become.

The evening proved to be a hit with many women who attended including Alicia Francis, secretary, who said: “It has been a fantastic night. I’ve really been bowled over by everyone’s energy and enthusiasm.”

Laura Glendinning, president, said: “We believed there was a need for such a forum but this level of support is incredible.”

Cathy Young, vice president, said: “This is so exciting and the start of something special.”

Liz Buxton, who was visiting from the Essex WI Federation, said: “Yesterday evening was rather special. I couldn’t believe the numbers who turned up. It was just super. You are going to have a very livevly active WI.”

The evening ended with tea, homemade cakes and the hope of a new future for the WI in Forest Gate.

The next meeting will take place on November 1 from 7 to 9pm at Durning Hall, Earlham Grove, Forest Gate.