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Have you discovered the WI?

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By Fiona Reid
Have you discovered the WI?

COME and join us, that’s the message to a new generation of women from the Scottish WI as it celebrates its centenary year.

And national chairman Christine Hutton, who comes from New Abbey, is particularly hoping to spread the word among women here in her home region.

Membership numbers are on the up following modernisation at the organisation and Christine firmly believes the SWI is still as relevant now as it was when it was launched in 1917.
She said: “Our organisation was formed to bring women together.
“We have remained a constant in Scottish life ever since and are here to educate, to share, to campaign, to learn, to socialise, to build a community and of course, to have fun.”
She added: “The centenary is a great chance for us to remind people who we are about and what we have to offer modern women living in 21st century Scotland.”
After a rebrand, new style meetings reflect a wider range of interests and are held at flexible times and in venues like pubs and coffee shops.
Furthermore, the word ‘rural’ has been dropped to ensure the group is relevant to those in urban areas as well as the countryside.
Meanwhile, the existing network of traditional branches continue to focus on home skills, family welfare and citizenship
Not only are women being urged to discover their local branch, there are also opportunities regionally and nationwide to set up new branches.
The SWI was originally founded by East Lothian farmer’s wife Catherine Blair, who was active in the suffragette movement. A total of 37 women turned up to an inaugural meeting at Longniddry in June 1917, where the first institute was formed and which is still in existence today.
The network spread across the country and there are currently 16,001 members attending 716 Institutes and enjoying activities from cake decorating and floral art, to gin tasting and life drawing.
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