Celebrating a centenary in style in Elsenham

Members and guests at Elsenham WI’s centenary party

Members and guests at Elsenham WI’s centenary party - Credit: Elsenham WI

It was a very welcome return to the Memorial Hall as Elsenham WI members celebrated 100 years of their Women’s Institute in style.

Any centenary party is a momentous event but this one was particularly special because it was the first time that members and guests had met ‘in person’ in the Memorial Hall, their regular meeting venue, since February 2020.

About 50 WI members from Elsenham and other local WIs plus former members and guests gathered for the party, organised by the Elsenham WI committee.

Group of five celebrating Elsenham WI centenary celebrations and a cake, Essex

Elsenham WI centenary celebrations. Current and past officials with the centenary cake. From left, Brenda Parrish (President 1992-93), Moyra Jackson (current President), Anne Player (President 1975-77), Joyce Dixon (President 2000-2005), Gill Hathaway (current Secretary.) - Credit: Elsenham WI

In traditional style, the meeting opened with singing Jerusalem, then Moyra Jackson, President of Elsenham WI, gave a special address, beginning with where it all started with a preliminary meeting held on Wednesday, November 9, 1921.

"Miss Christy, Secretary of the Essex Federation of Women’s Institutes, gave an address on the workings, objects, and benefits of Women’s Institutes.


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"She also exhibited many useful articles made by members of Woman’s Institutes in different parts of the county.

"After the address, Mrs Screen proposed that a Women’s Institute be formed in the Village of Elsenham. On a show of hands this proposal was carried..."

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Moyra then gave a whistle-stop tour of the history of Elsenham WI told through reading a summary of meeting minutes, noting: "Our WI has evolved over an eventful century – women getting the vote, Jazz, the Wall Street Crash, a World War, Swing, the atomic bomb, Dior’s New Look, rationing, the rise of communism, the Cold War, television, Rock & Roll, the Swinging Sixties, JFK, Martin Luther King, Mary Quant, the Beatles, Pirate Radio, Women’s Lib, Heavy Metal, Colour TV, Punk Rock, the fall of the Berlin wall, The Worldwide Web, Mobile phones, 9/11, Hip Hop, Social Media and Covid-19.

"We have had three Kings and one Queen who is a fellow WI member. Two coronations, an abdication and 20 Prime Ministers, two of whom were female.

"We have had a total of 30 Presidents over our 100 years, some of whom are here tonight, at least three WI Advisors and four Federation Trustees.

"In addition to this we have had wonderful Secretaries and Treasurers, plus many, many members who have served on our committee over the years - all making our WI the formidable entity it is today.

"We take a great deal of pride in our ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ heritage, safe in the knowledge that our WI is so much more than that."

Centenary cake, cards, and flowers

Elsenham WI's Centenary cake, cards, and flowers - Credit: Elsenham WI

The evening continued with a high tea, a special centenary cake and cupcakes, the traditional competition (this time for an arrangement of flowers in a jam jar) and a raffle.

Live entertainment arrived in the form of musician Stefan Butler who played his guitar and sang classics from the last few decades.

It was a reasonably warm and moonlit night so many members and guests joined Stefan outside to dance the night away.

Musician Stefan Butler playing guitar and singing for Elsenham WI's centenary party, Essex

Stefan Butler, who provided the entertainment for Elsenham WI's centenary party, and got members and guests dancing outside - Credit: Elsenham WI

Moyra Jackson said: "The WI is here to inspire you and there’s no doubt that we are standing on the shoulders of giants when I look back at the many and diverse achievements of the women who have worked hard over the last 100 years to make Elsenham WI what it is today.

"I’m looking forward to taking us into our next century knowing that there’s no limit to what the women of Elsenham WI can achieve in the future."

Get involved in the group. Email elsenhamwi@gmail.com or search for Elsenham WI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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