06 July 2015

100 years ... and counting

The Womens Institute is 100 years old this year and lots of events have been planned to celebrate its centenary. The main event was the official Annual General Meeting held at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, the Princess Royal, and the Duchess of Wessex, all of whom are WI members. Sadly I was unable to go this year because, in case you don’t know, the Albert Hall is a circular building and there are rather a lot of steps to the seating areas. I’ve done it many times but this year I felt unable to tackle the up and down climb. Not to worry though, I was able to watch the event on the internet – a live broadcast seen via YouTube. 
Royal Albert Hall
Inside the Albert Hall
Here's a video clip of the singing of Jerusalem, which is the WI's 'anthem'. Don't worry, it's only the singing, not the whole programme! Singing in the Albert Hall with so many women is an emotional experience and I always got a bit dewy eyed when I was there. The first person you see is Janice Langley, WI's current National Chairman. You can see the three royals joining in. In the middle of the video is a picture of members singing in their own institute, the institute being the first one to start in this country - all those years ago. One of the members from that institute and one from a brand new institute were detailed to perform a particular task... you can imagine how thrilled they were, especially the new girl. 

Another event was a garden party held at Buckingham Palace the day before. The Duchess of Cornwall presided. One member from each WI (making thousands) was invited to attend but no-one from my institute wanted to go. Understandable when you think of the unearthly hour the journey had to start, all the travelling, then arriving home at some ridiculous hour later the same day. Or, as some did, go to the garden party one day, stay overnight somewhere, and move on to the AGM the following day. A lot of us are past making such efforts – even for the Queen. Or WI!
Duchess of Cornwall greeting those famous WI members who starred in The Calendar Girls 
Pretty crowded, eh!
There was an amusing incident which occurred a few weeks prior to the garden party. I received an email from someone called Joanne who worked at the local Hotter Shoes shop. She had heard about the event and was offering our, what she called, lucky lady a free pair of shoes to wear on the day. Damnation, and me NOT GOING. I guess I could have pretended but I don’t wear Hotter Shoes anymore.

Enquiries were made and I discovered a colleague from a local institute would be attending the garden party. I gave her a call. Needless to say she was delighted, although her husband was a somewhat hesitant about what he thought was a catch. We all know that people don’t offer anything for nothing unless there’s something in it for them. Anyway, it transpired that all they required was a photograph for advertising, one taken on the day. I don’t know the outcome of that but I did hear that my colleague wore the shoes all day and was VERY pleased with them. She had even bought a handbag to match. That’ll teach me not to attend these things! 


  1. A nice post love. Sorry you couldn't make it but it was a 14 hour day! Never mind as you were the centre of attention there once in 1999 where the Queen is standing when you won the National Prize for your writing.

  2. Great and interesting, and lovely photos. Have a good week!

  3. Yes, Joe, that WAS a great day, one never to be forgotten.

  4. Blogoratti, thank you. I know everyone there found it interesting.

  5. That's pretty interesting, Valerie. I prefer not to do a lot of stairs anymore either.

  6. Oh Valerie, what a faaaaaaabulous post! Absolutely LOVED the video clip!

    And thanks so much for sharing the photograph of the real-life Calendars Girls because I own the movie (which I adore) and think the story is such a touching one.

    Have a super Monday, dear lady!

    X to you and Joe

  7. Thanks, Ron. On a prior occasion I was introduced to the Duchess of Wessex so it was lovely to think I MIGHT have met her again if I hadn't been so touchy about stairs and time... haha. Glad you enjoyed seeing the picture of the Calendar Girls. The tall one who was about to shake hands with the Duchess is the originator of the whole thing. She was October on the calendar. I have met her couple of times - she's a lovely woman.
    This is her website.

  8. What a wonderful summary of a fabulous occasion Valeri..loved the video n the photographs..also proud to know from Joe's comment that u were once the center of attention..have a nice week ahead..

  9. All those stairs would have put me off too Valerie. Too many mishaps on stairs, me. Especially vulnerable after a long, tiring journey. Thank you for the lovely video. Happens to be one of my most favorite hymns. Also I have just discovered Hotters. I have always had a lot of trouble finding stylus, wide fitting shoes, not to mention the most important thing, comfort! I now have three pair!

  10. Hi Sanita. Thank you so much for your recent comments. It was a great occasion and I didn't miss anything. The whole event was live recorded so WI members could see it. The beauty of it is that I can still watch it. Joe likes to let people know that I was there... yes, I won the Lady Denman Cup for a short story competition and it was presented to me on stage at the Albert Hall. A long time ago.

  11. Wow, that does sound fun, if you're a WI member. I never have been, but have often wondered if I might like it. No time, that's the trouble.

    The offer from the Hotter shop was really nice. I do like Hotter shoes, they're lovely and wide, though often they don't fit me on the heel. I have a beautiful heliotrope blue pair which do, though, and they're really comfortable.

  12. Jay, branches of the WI only meet once a month and there is no obligation to get involved in anything other than that.

    I bought Hotter shoes for years and then the size and shape of my feet seemed to change. I do still have some but most have been discarded. It was nice that Hotter made the offer, I wonder if any other shoemakers did anything.

  13. Thanks for coming to my blog. It was lovely.

  14. Interesting. Many steps up wouldn't have worked with my vertigo, for sure....:)

  15. Thanks for sharing, Val. Learned a lot of new and interesting stuff today, which is usually the case when I visit your awesome blog. Take care my friend. My best to Joe.


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