TO CELEBRATE the centenary of the Isle of Wight’s WI County Federation, a week-long archive exhibition and flower festival was held at Newport Minster.

All 31 Isle of Wight Women’s Institutes created stunning flower displays, representing aspects of life on the Island, and all that is held dear to the WI locally.

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The archive display during the event, which ended last weekend, drew on all the Isle of Wight WI records and artefacts which the members and branches have collected over the last 100 years.

The archive exhibition and flower festival were a great chance for members to show how the WI exists within its communities — and the huge range of skills that WI members have.

Isle of Wight County Press:

In keeping with the WI mandate to End Plastic Soup, no oasis was used in this striking display. 

A Service of Celebration was held on Thursday, November 26, which was attended by more than 300 members.

The crowd filled Newport Minster and it was also attended by local dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant Susie Sheldon, Bob Seely MP, High Sheriff James Attrill and Cllr Claire Critchison.

A WI choir, which was formed for the centenary, sang three songs from a cantata composed in 1950 by Vaughan Williams for the National WI.

The winning entries of a painting competition and a writing competition were unveiled at the service.

Isle of Wight County Press:

A bolster made by WI members for King Charles I’s bedchamber at Carisbrooke Castle was one of the many artefacts on display.

Sue Biss, the Isle of Wight’s WI Federation chair, said: “We had the most wonderful and amazing week at the Minster, all round. It was a real whirlwind.”

The first two Isle of Wight WIs were both formed on the same day in May 1919 and they were Ningwood and Shalfleet and Wootton Bridge — although Wootton Bridge has since ceased operation.

It was back in 1921, the federation was first formed on the Isle of Wight, to support the running of existing WIs.

Today, the Isle of Wight branches cater for members of all ages, with the tagline ‘ fun and friendship’.

The Isle of Wight’s WI Federation regularly gets involved in community events — members ran the tea tent at Bestival for many years and have recently run the tea tent at the Royal Isle of Wight County Show.