What do WI members get up to in August?

Vale of Castiard Jubilee coffee morning

August is a real opportunity to socialise and get to know one another better - Credit: GFWI

Life in the WIs with GFWI chairman Janice Cole

The twelfth month? Not as you might think December, but generally August!  

The WI membership subscription guarantees 11 free monthly meetings a year, and most institutes choose not to have an official meeting in August. It is a month when nothing in the way of expected business goes out to them from either national or their county federation. There may be reasons why we have to keep in touch, but that will be sent to the WI secretary and we avoid it if at all possible. It does mean that there is generally a lot of information about future events and other business that goes out at the beginning of September, but we cope. 

So, do members get together in August, and if so what do they do?  

It is a real opportunity to socialise and get to know one another better. Often an outing is planned to places near or far. For example, Stonehouse WI had an outing to Chavenage House last year. It was within driving distance, so car-share worked (we have a fixed-price contribution from all passengers to the driver). On this occasion we had a talk about the history of the house followed by a conducted tour, and finishing with a very nice afternoon tea. There was obviously a charge and, because it is an extra meeting, we can make a charge without contravening charity commission rules. Another time we went to BBC Bristol for a tour round and a chance to play at being on The Archers! This of course involved a coach and, as it was not quite full, we invited a local WI to join us, which led to us meeting up with them every year to share a meeting, which meant we could share the cost of a speaker. We are nothing if not resourceful!

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What else might an institute do in their eleventh month? Well, some of them choose to have a garden party in a member’s garden – with tea and cake, of course! If there is a special event to celebrate, it could well be a more elaborate affair with posh frocks and proscecco! It is a lovely opportunity to be with friends in a delightful setting, and much nattering goes on. Food often looms large at these meetings and never more so when the gathering takes the form of dinner or lunch at a local pub or café. If appropriate, it may be preceded by a walk, so less guilt is felt. Though, if you like me are not a walker, you just enjoy the excuse to eat out. If the pub has a skittle alley, we might combine it with a game or two. As you will appreciate, these are times when we choose to pay to meet up. 

Finally, we could do something completely different and support the local community with a stall at a local show, or a stall on the village green. This is not confined to the twelfth month by any means as it is a way of making ourselves known and raising some funds so we can spend more on speakers or subsidise our monthly meeting in some other way. I should say that most stalls at shows involve cakes and possibly jam... back to our roots! 

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As you can see, there is no one way or prescribed pattern, all WIs are different and have individual ways of doing things. Long may it continue. 

For more information contact: WI House, Brunswick Square, Gloucester, tel: 01452 523966; thewi.org.uk