WI branch closes after 68 years


It is sad to record the end of an era at South Willingham and Hainton with the news that the remaining members of Hainton and district Women’s Institute have decided to close the branch after 68 years of providing a meeting place to learn new skills with education and entertainment for local ladies.

There are many happy memories to recall by longstanding members who have enjoyed the company of friends and neighbours over a long period of time and while some are no longer able to attend the meetings on a regular basis, others are sad at its passing.

At least they have ended in a blaze of glory having gained a reputation in recent years as trophy winners at the Louth Group Produce show with the small group of members using their skills to notch up the maximum points to claim most of them.

It was just after the war when local residents along with the rest of the country were attempting to get back to normal that the Hainton and district WI was launched, the third branch to be formed at the end of 1945 and the new venture was regarded as having a very encouraging send off. The meetings were held initially in members homes, then Hainton and Sixhills Village hall before they moved to South Willingham Parish Hall which was to be their home for 50 years in 1963 as the majority of members lived in the area.

One of the first presidents was Mrs Eastwood, the sister of Lord Heneage and since then the list has included such well known personalities as Marilyn Perkins, now Mrs Tomkins and the late Flo Vickers, Clare Edmundson and Doris Cosgrove. Flo and Clare were very enthusiastic members and much missed when they were no longer around to lead the way and Doris, who joined the W I when she was 16 years old but had a break for a few years while her family were young returned and retained her affection for the branch as the longest standing member until her recent death.

The meetings were usually well attended but there was a blip in 1967 when they were down to just seven members and there was doubt about the future but they pulled together and with Flo at the helm they made a determined effort, gathered more members and prospered again. On this occasion the efforts to recruit have not been successful and it was in December that they met for the last time and decided that lack of members and funds to pay their way gave them no option but to disband.

The planned social evening was their last get together but with the added attraction of entertainment

by John Hall. They had enjoyed his hilarious talk on ‘When I was a kid in the 1950’s’ so much in November that they decided to ask him back for a repeat dose of laughter as they made the sad decision to close at the end of their 68th year.

Now a very active and energetic 80 plus, Ruby Willoughby of Donington on Bain has really enjoyed almost 40 years as a member where she has also been very successful as a keen competitor and notched up many successes, winning trophies as a member of the darts team in years gone by and a regular winner of the trophies for competitions including the Willoughby Trophy for most points in the flower of the month competition that she donated.

Alice Hodgson said: “After being appointed village news correspondent in 1967 I went along to my first meeting of Hainton and district Women’s Institute and have recorded most of their activities since then, forming many friendships along the way. I have shared most of their special occasions and regularly attended the annual parties during my years as organiser of the Barkwith Group Over 60’s Club too, ferrying them around on the vicar’s old bus and also by car- what fun we had.

“There was always a very warm welcome as they had a reputation for the friendly atmosphere evident at meetings and the fortieth anniversary was a particularly memorable occasion when two of their founder members joined then to help celebrate and reminisce.- the news headlines then were ‘Forty successful years’ but sadly no more.”