Party time for the SWI this weekend

SWI national chairman Linda Retson.
SWI national chairman Linda Retson.
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Scotland’s biggest birthday party of the year is being thrown this weekend and has all the ingredients for success as Scottish Women’s Institutes marks 100 years of its organisation.

Who better to throw the nation’s biggest birthday party than members of the SWI, renowned for being excellent hostesses and for their talents in baking and handcrafts?

Members have been busy making bunting and banners, place settings and table decorations and will be hard at work in their kitchens preparing delicious eats to serve to members and special guests who join them for the celebrations.

They are getting together at venues across Scotland – including village halls, marquees, hotels and even a race course and castle – for their own ‘Tea In the Park’ this Sunday afternoon (July 2), uniting to celebrate one of nation’s best known and most loved organisations.

SWI national chairman Linda Retson says: “This will be the party of all parties; Federations have been planning their celebrations for months and everyone is looking forward to getting together to mark our milestone birthday in this way.

“It is a momentous occasion for the SWI, to have stood the test of time and be able to reflect on our long and proud heritage and the influence we have had in Scottish communities over 100 years.

“It also provides an opportunity to look forward to the future as we are committed to doing all we can to attract the next generation of members to the SWI to enjoy the benefits learning new skills, building on existing ones, making new friends and above all having fun.”

The SWI remains one of the largest women’s organisations in Scotland and has 16,000 members attending 700 Institutes.

The WI movement was taking root in Canada and England and East Lothian farmer’s wife Catherine Blair, who was active in the suffragette movement, recognised a need for women living in rural areas of Scotland to gain the benefits of education and training in home skills, family welfare and citizenship.

Her vision was shared by others and 37 women turned up to a meeting at Longniddry in June 1917, where the first institute was formed and which is still in existence today.

In recent times, the SWI has taken steps to become relevant to women living in towns and cities as well as country areas. The word ‘rural’ was dropped from the title and new style meetings reflecting a wider range of interests and held at flexible times and in venues like pubs and coffee shops have been introduced.

These changes have resulted in new branches being formed where members take part in speed crafting, Segway racing, rum tasting, book groups and more. Modern meetings complement the existing network of traditional branches where the focus is on home skills, family welfare and citizenship.

Combined, all Institutes are continuing the legacy of an organisation where generations of Scottish women have learned life skills, arts and crafts, taken up topical issues and made friends.

For more details of how to find your nearest Institute, or advice on how to set up a new one, visit www.theswi.org.uk or go Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishWomensInstitutes