Hats off to the WI?as village group marks 90

Hats in all sizes, shades and styles made Lympstone WI s 90th birthday celebration into a colourful occasion.

Hats in all sizes, shades and styles made Lympstone WI's 90th birthday celebration into a colourful occasion.

Between the two courses of a delicious supper, La La Lympstone provided the entertainment with a variety of songs in differing styles, inviting members to join in with the unaccompanied harmony singing. The WI County Chairman and guests helped to make it a truly memorable evening.

Our President, Jo Cotton, and her committee thoroughly deserved the County Chairman's thanks and praise for making the event such a success

Lympstone WI was formed in November 1919 when one of the early talks/demos was on making and cooking in a hay box.


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Teas were supplied at 2d. per head and the first outing the following year was by charabanc to Ladram Bay.

At the end of the first year, membership stood at 91 (today it is nearly 50).

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During the Second World War, meetings continued on a regular basis. In 1940 we agreed to a request from the Billeting Officer to undertake the clothes mending of children evacuated to Lympstone. We had our own choir which, with the drama group, won many awards. Tins of food from Australia were distributed to members. It was agreed in 1952 to proceed with the "Adoption of a Family of Displaced Persons" and we were allocated a Polish family called Rutkowskis. Food and clothing parcels were sent to this family regularly for a number of years until they went to live in Canada in 1960; letters of thanks were always received but, of course, they had to be translated. Between 1958 and 1960 we collected hundreds of eggs for Exmouth Hospital who pickled them.

The closure of the Exeter-Exmouth railway line was a hot topic in 1963, Lympstone WI protesting vigorously against it. (Mr Peter Emery, MP, confirmed in 1977 that there were no plans to close the line).

In 1965 it is recorded that a lady from Whiteways gave what must surely be the shortest talk ever and gave each member a glass of sherry, peach wine and ginger wine as well as a bottle of tonic water. This was a most convivial occasion and a voice from the back of the hall asked why we could not have meetings like this more often!

The year of 1967 saw the end of the social half-hour, during which smoking was permitted, and this had been held at almost every meeting since the formation of the Institute. It always came at the end of the meeting when members provided their own light-hearted entertainment or competition.

In 1975, it was suggested that the age for children to attend the WI should be lowered from 14 to 10 years as this might enable younger girls to join our WI. This would be discussed again later, but nothing was recorded as to the outcome. (Younger members would still be welcome!)

Subs reached the princely sum of �5 in 1986 and by 1993 it had increased to �10.50, the news of which was received with dismay - it is now �27.

Throughout the years, Lympstone WI has always played an active and integral part in village life. It has served countless teas and supported many worthwhile causes,

The WI gained national publicity and admiration with its Great Milk Debate and successful pressure on supermarkets to increase the price they paid farmers for milk in 2007 and this arose from a resolution submitted by one of our own members, Beryl Grooms.

We are not just hats and handbags!

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