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The Queen’s day with the Women’s Institute

Her Majesty The Queen made her annual visit to West Newton on Thursday, to attend a meeting of the Women’s Institute (WI).

Upon her arrival at West Newton village hall, where the meeting was held, Her Majesty was welcomed by the group’s chairwoman, Yvonne Brown, while other members of the group sang the national anthem.

The guest speaker at the event was actress Dame Penelope Keith, who is best known for her role as Margo Leadbetter in the BBC sitcom The Good Life. In the past, the Women’s Institute has been addressed by a number of celebrated individuals, including Clare Balding, Bill Turnbull and Julia Bradbury.

Dame Penelope also starred as Audrey fforbes-Hamilton in the 1980s television series To the Manor Born. She was made a Dame for her services to the arts and charity by The Queen last year, in the New Year Honours.

“I’m a little bit nervous but it’s a great privilege to be invited to do this,” Dame Penelope said before the meeting. “I have had the pleasure of meeting The Queen before but this is a great honour because I’m a great admirer of hers. I am never quite sure what to speak about – people expect actors to just have a torrent of words coming out of them.”

“What I like to do is answer questions so we’ll see what people would like me to talk about,” she added.

The Queen is President of the local WI branch in Norfolk, and pays them a visit every year, normally attending the first meeting after Christmas.

At this year’s meeting, The Queen listened to the speakers, before judging competition entries from members. Having paid her dues, she returned to her home on Sandringham Estate, where she will stay until the beginning of February.

The Women’s Institute is a voluntary women’s organisation based in the UK. Formed in 1915, it encouraged women to become involved in the production of food during the First World War. Today, the WI plays an active role in providing women with opportunities for education and developing new skills. The WI currently has 212,000 members in about 6,600 branches, making it the largest organisation of its kind.

This year marks the centenary of the Women’s Institute.

Featured photo credit: UK in Italy via photopin cc

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