Friendliness is key to group’s success

Maureen Bradley has been the president of Eastwood Women’s Institute for 12 years – and says it is about far more than “jam and Jerusalem”.

She joined the group 16 years ago and has not looked back since.

The 78-year-old said the other members of the WI have become her closest friends over the years and she would recommend it to anyone.

She said: “The friendship means a lot and is one of the best things about it.

“I have made a lot of very good friends. When I’ve got a problem, I’ve only got to pick the phone up.

“They have just been absolutely marvellous.

“When my husband had a hip replacement they helped me tremendously. They have been so kind.”

Maureen, who lives in Windsmoor Road, Brinsley, said the Eastwood WI has a reputation across Nottinghamshire for being such a friendly group.

She said: “In our meetings I always say if someone has got a problem please don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call one of us. I think friendliness probably does run through WI groups, but when people come to us they always say what a warm welcome they get and how much they love coming, because it’s so friendly.”

But Maureen said she was unsure about joining the WI at first.

She said: “I met a couple of ladies who were members and they were telling me about it and said I would enjoy it.

“I wasn’t very sure because the WI to me was all jam and Jerusalum.

“I thought perhaps I should go and see what it’s all about so I did. I went along and everybody was very friendly. It wasn’t what I expected at all. And that was it. I kept going.”

The group meets once a month at the town’s Dora Phillips Hall.

They have speakers, musicians, singers, story tellers, and a raffle and refreshments at the end.

Maureen said: “We have speakers on all sorts of subjects from gardening and wildlife to an interesting trip abroad.

“We often go for lunch and we do a trip to a garden centre.

“Last year, we celebrated the WI’s 100th anniversary and this year we marked the Queen’s 90th birthday.

“We’ll have a special afternoon cream team and decorate the hall nicely.

“And obviously we have a lovely Christmas party every year too, where we also invite members from other groups along.”

Every so often the WI has a card making afternoon, and once a year they have an open day where they all make something to sell on stalls to raise money for the group.

There are 28 members in the group, and ages range from late 50s to early 90s.

A handful of them have been there since the group first started about 20 years ago.

Maureen said: “For those considering joining, it’s a great afternoon out. The speakers are great and very interesting, and it’s just a great opportunity to meet different people.”

And, she said, members are willing to pick people up if they do not have transport.

Anybody interested in joining should call on 01773 713964.