Jarrow Women's Institute branch celebrates 40th anniversary as it looks to the future

A Women’s Institute (WI) branch has been celebrating its 40th anniversary, although not in the way they imagined – and they’re also on the lookout for new members.

The group has great fun and has raised huge amounts for charity over four decades. Unfortunately covid restrictions wiped out plans for the party they really wanted, but members had a Zoom party and a good catch-up instead.

They intend to have a proper knees-up when it’s safe.

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The branch started off as Hedworthfield WI in 1980, the district where they first met. The name was changed to Jarrow to make it more recognisable. Membership rose and many friendships were formed.

The Jarrow WI has been celebrating its 40th anniversary with a 'meeting in a bag'.

The Jarrow branch is part of the wider Tyne and Wear South Federation of the WI, which has over 1,200 members.

Its chair, Margaret Carter, said: “We would have had a party, but had to have a Zoom meeting instead with a quiz and a good old chat. Members also received a ‘meeting in a bag’ with commemorative gifts.

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“I think the 40 years that the organisation has been running is great to see in this day and age. It’s good to see something with such a lasting presence. There are two or three members who were there when it first started.

“Jarrow WI has raised a lot of money for different charities over the years. They do things on a grand scale in Jarrow. They were all up for a good party, but we can do it some other time.”

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The Jarrow WI was able to have a socially distanced picnic earlier this year. They're looking for new members of all ages.

The group wants to expand. Margaret added: “We’re looking for a good age range.”

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The WI is the largest women's organisation in the UK. It provides women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

Between now and April 2021, new members and members who have not been a member in the past 10 years can join the WI on a try-out basis for just £10.75.

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The organisation has found ways to keep events going during lockdown. Usually the Jarrow branch meets at St Matthew’s parish hall on York Avenue.

There are also branches in Cleadon and South Shields. For more information, visit tyne-and-wear-south.thewi.org.uk.

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