Her Majesty is President of the Sandringham and West Newton branch of the Women’s Institute, (WI). Today, Thursday, 19 January, The Queen made her annual visit to the West Newton Village Hall.
The Queen joined the voluntary organisation in 1943, nearly a decade before becoming queen. The WI is the largest voluntary organisation in the United Kingdom with approximately 220,000 members nationally and 6,300 institutions. It was formed in 1915 in response to food shortages during World War I and was established to encourage women to become more involved in food production during the war. and to revitalise rural communities. According to the National website of the WI, the organisation has broadened its aims. It provides women with: “educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.”
WI members can participate in many diverse activities. Since the organization was founded on food production, the WI is very active in ensuring that they support the production and use of British produce in the creation of weekly and healthy menus and recipes.
Women also participate in activities established to stimulate the creation of arts, leisure, sports, and science. The WI has partnered with organisations and institutions such as Breeze, Sport England, the Institute of Physics, Oxford University and New Age Kurling to enhance these activities.
Members are also active in other events related to craft. They write, design exhibits, and and participate in sports. Activities can be suited for individuals or teams of members.
WI members also enjoy other tasks like floral arts, cookery, learning and development within the organization, and national competitions. Two of the more prestigious ones are the the Lady Denman Cup, which is a national writing competition and the Huxley Cup Competition which is a contest centred around creating floral arrangements.
This afternoon, The Queen spent time with members of the branch before Historian Lucy Worsley, chief curator for Historic Royal Palaces spoke. During her visit, The Queen addressed members before presenting them with competition prizes preceding the presentation by Ms Worsley.
This is only the second public outing The Queen has attended whilst at her Sandringham estate. Poor health forced her to miss both the Christmas and New Year’s day masses. On arriving at the hall, The Queen was greeted by Yvonne Browne, the branch’s chairman and vice president.