The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), the largest voluntary women’s membership organisation in the UK, celebrates its centenary today (September 16, 2015).
The date marks 100 years since the first WI meeting took place in Llanfairpwll PG on Anglesey in 1915.
The 100-year-old institution is putting a modern twist on its centenary celebrations, with a commemorative campaign that gives its craft heritage a social media spin. As part of the celebrations, one hundred commemorative tweets that contain the centenary hashtag, #theWI_100years, will be live-stitched by members on the day to form part of a celebratory wall hanging.
One hundred messages tweeted containing the centenary hashtag #theWI_100years on September 16 will automatically be printed onto a stitching template. These tweets will then be stitched by a team of WI members at their headquarters in London. Pictures of each stitched tweet will be photographed and tweeted back to the sender and the final piece will be put on display at the NFWI’s headquarters to provide a lasting legacy of the online buzz around the centenary.
The ‘tWItterstitch’ campaign bridges the gap between the traditional reputation of the WI and its evolving use of technology. Nationwide, over 300 WIs are active on Twitter, using the social network to keep in touch with members – and attract new ones – and the WI regularly connects with over 25,000 followers.
The first WI was formed in North Wales in 1915, during the First World War. Since then, the NFWI has been a force for change on matters such as breast examination and screening, the dangers of smoking, awareness of HIV and AIDS, equal pay for women and increasing the number of midwives.
Today, over 6,600 WIs with more than 212,000 members meet every month, not only to discuss future mandates and campaigns – including the latest campaign on organ donation – but also to take part in activities and learn skills that benefit members and their communities including furniture restoration, self-defence and even cocktail-making.
A whole host of special activities and projects have been taking place throughout 2015 to celebrate the centenary of the NFWI, including the country-wide journey of the Centenary Baton, choir competition Singing for Joy and the NFWI Centenary Fruit Cake Competition.
This year’s Annual Meeting on June 4 was also of particular significance for members, as it was attended by Her Majesty The Queen, who is President of Sandringham WI, alongside Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, an NFWI associate, and The Countess of Wessex, a member of Bagshot WI.
Janice Langley, Chair of the NFWI said: “We’ve been looking forward to the centenary for such a long time and we’re delighted that it’s finally upon us.
“This milestone provides an important platform to reflect on the past and celebrate the incredible achievements of our members over the past 100 years.”