A Poem – Written to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Litton and Hinton Blewett Women's Institute by Mrs. Eva. Wilkins
(amended for the seventieth anniversary)
(amended for the seventy fifth anniversary by Mrs. Shirley Goulding)
(amended for the ninetieth anniversary by Mrs. Chris Arnold)
When our Grandmas looked into the future,
I wonder what they could see?
I'll have a bet with you, that in twenty-two,
For most 'twas twenty-three.
But not if they were Litton born
And bred up to their game,
They saw a role for women,
In the future halls of fame.
Thus, in the cosy parlour, of nearby Manor Farm,
Primrose Middle, like a spider,
Lured the vicar's wife beside her,
And turned on all the facets of her charm.
They talked of the war and the widow's mite,
And ladies who would never marry,
They searched for solace in their plight,
For the loss of Tom, Dick and Harry.
They'd heard of this club, of National fame,
With titled ladies as members,
And a village in Wales with a strange sounding name,
They pondered and stared at the fender.
Then, joined by friends and aiming high,
A branch was formed of the WI,
And I've been privileged, their minutes to see,
Their first buy, tea cups, thirty three.
The biggest obstacle of them all,
Was where they could meet without a hall,
The only clubroom was the men's,
And strictly out of bounds for hens.
But a bird was sent, the men to see,
And Rosina Pavey got the room for free.
Alas, one man was rather surly,
And decreed that ladies must go home early.
Well, all went well for a couple of years,
'Till poor Miss Clara was reduced to tears,
Funny things were happening, or so they said,
And ladies were going home late to their beds.
No, it wasn't a scandal, wouldn't make page three,
They'd worn out their welcome at the club for free,
A half crown was levied for the room,
But, please could they meet in the afternoon.
It's difficult to imagine the committee's plight,
When some couldn't afford another penny a night.
With the speaker arriving at Hallatrow Station,
Nearly jeopardised the whole situation.
So, Grandfather Middle said, 'They shan't be done,
Women work hard and they must have their fun.
I've empty cottages quite near my home,
Would build the ladies a hall of their own.'
So, the hall was built, and funds raised to pay,
For an asset we highly value today.
For ninety long years, the ladies have toiled,
To keep the WI wheels well oiled.
Over the years, our hall's changed a bit,
In pride of place, an old stove did sit,
As we look upon the walls, a clock, we can see,
Presented in memory of Mrs. Franks, you'll agree.
New gas radiators were installed for all to see,
"Thank goodness we're warm!" said the WI with glee.
But still, chilly winds through the room did blow,
When all we wanted was to be all aglow.
New windows required, they were the thing,
To warm us all up and then make us sing.
They were put in last year, so now we can smile,
We're lovely and warm and it's no longer a trial.
Five decades ago, our friends on the hill,
Joined forces with us and we welcome them still.
The Hinton merger a few people remember,
And we held our meetings there, every September.
But now, like Topsy, we've grown so big,
And at times, in our meetings, we give a little jig,
The hall at Hinton doesn't accommodate us well,
In Litton village hall we are happy to dwell.
Our Golden Jubilee was fun,
On the Rectory lawn we danced in the sun,
We've had day flights to Holland and gay Paree,
And speakers on nearly every country.
In Spring when you admire the cherrytree,
Which was planted on our Golden Jubilee.
Or the daffs that nod, as Wordsworth would say,
'Twas the WI that planned it that way.
The Diamond celebration was arranged in style,
Guests arrived all merry and bright,
But the gremlins decided to cut off our power,
So, we dined in candlelight.
Celebrating seventy years was what you'd call,
This Platinum Jubilee, at a party for all.
To cut the cake was our longest serving member,
For Joyce Buxton, it was a special day to remember.
She'd come, as a girl of fourteen, with her mum,
To see how things at the WI were done.
This was 68 years ago, quite a feat,
Since '44 she's been coming, will this be beat?
The County Chairman graced our 75th,
And husbands joined us too.
We dined as usual in Hilton style,
And sang the whole night through.
'Twas a glorious evening in 2002,
In Pamela's garden no-one was blue.
Our Oak Anniversary, celebrated eighty long years,
We listened to Sax Pack and gave three cheers.
Once every year, in the summer, we're invited,
To meet in a member's garden, we are really excited.
If the weather is clement, we can sit outside,
With a glass in our hands we might even be spied.
Over the years our craft group has been renowned,
Working at Betty Walker's they could often be found.
Through County Festivals we raised lots of funds,
At the Royal Bath & West Show many others were stunned.
Countless outings have occurred along the way,
Stately homes and gardens, even a train I might say.
On several river boats, we've been on trips,
Also on the Matthew, which is quite a ship.
In 2006, a weekend at Denman we spent,
By coach and by car, some thirty of us went.
We had classes in jewellery and cooking and art,
Some explored in Morse's Oxford, places close to his heart.
Competitions have ranged from the longest weeds,
To toys and buns and collage with beads,
This year we made crowns for the Queen's Jubilee,
There were decorated cup cakes for all to see.
On the president's table we have each meeting,
Flowers from Pamela's garden, that take some beating,
Of our talented ladies we're extremely proud,
They've wonderful skills, we want to shout out loud.
Mrs. M. H. Nettleford was our first president,
Between then and now, many came, many went.
Marion Dodson served longest, for sixteen long years,
Today, Shirley Goulding allays all our fears.
And so we come to our ninetieth year,
Quite a feat, you know, with a smile and a tear.
A double sapphire jubilee, I am assured,
Is what you call it now that we've matured.
As you sit and enjoy our special celebration,
The funds we raised without hesitation.
From the raffle of the Mulberry bag,
The winner of this is able to brag.
It's been a great honour following Eva's lead,
Looking back on our history, I tried to take heed.
We remember with pride those first pioneers,
Who paved the way for these wonderful years.
So, please join me, friends, on this special occasion,
To further support this organisation,
And strive with effort, if we can,
To ensure a future for everyone.