In February 1921 a meeting was called by the Rector ‘to discuss the desirableness of forming a Women’s Institute at Helmdon.’ Notices were placed in the Reading Room, the Post Office and Mrs James Watson’s shop.
A general meeting was called on 13th February and Miss Simpson ‘explained the motive’ and it was unanimously agreed to form an Institute. Meetings to be held on the second Wednesday of the month.
On March 2nd the first meeting was held in the Reading Room and 59 members were enrolled. They had a musical evening.
The President was Mrs Johnson, Vice-Presidents Mrs Golby, Mrs Robson and Miss A. Barret. Treasurer Mrs Perridge, Secretary Mrs L. Watson
Committee – Mrs Adams, Miss M. Barret, Mrs Abel, Mrs Berry, Mrs Dytam, Mrs A. Humphrey, Mrs Watson, Mrs T. Humphrey, Miss Salmon, Mrs Smart.
The meetings alternated between afternoons and evenings and during 1921 talks were given on – Cane basket making – Bottling and drying fruit and vegetablesGlovemaking - members made their own! – Soft toy making
They had 102 at the Christmas Social (guests were invited) In 1922 they had talks on Skin curing,Rug making,Dress making,Soft slipper making. They often had musical evenings, games and whist drives and sketches by members. The school children entertained them to with folk dancing and drill demonstrations. They also had Jumble sales.
Particular competitions I noticed were ‘Something new out of something old’ and how many words can you make from ‘Womens’ Institutes’. WI badges were given as prizes.
They had talks on Infant welfare with a Baby Show! Sick room nursing and “Making the Best of Yourself’!
A social event at The Manor House gardens including a cricket match and a Bunty Stall?!
In 1923 they had a lecture on First Aid, a talk on pork pie making and a demonstration on Ironing starched collars!
I noticed the committee meeting was held at ‘Littleholme”, Helmdon
They often gave donations to good causes from the Horton and Northampton and Brackley Cottage hospitals to the Helmdon Nursing Association, the Reading Room Fund, towards the Churchyard extension, the Manfield Crippled Home and in 1922, 1cwt of coal to any needy in the village as a Christmas present.
They enjoyed Summer visits – initially to gardens in Sulgrave, Delapre Park and then in later years to Stratford, Oxford, Wembley, Bedford, Warwick, Cheltenham, Skegness and the Ideal Home Exhibition in London.
They were often invited to tea in the Rectory gardens by Canon Bartlett, had a talk on Soap making , Gossip, and a very useful Demonstration on Eiderdowns!
In 1922 the President Mrs Johnson gave her prize money from a produce show for the W.I. Notice board
In January 1923 they had a party for members’ children – all 50 of them! The numbers at the meetings were generally around 40-50 ladies.
One year every member was given some seed potatoes from Moulton Farm Institute and the Autumn competition was the member with the best crop.
They had a Raffia demonstration, a Lantern Slides show on Birds and their habits, talks on gardening, rush mat making, Poultry Keeping and Papier Mache. They did Folk Dancing and had a demonstration on Sweet making by Mrs Saunders.
There were visits from Sulgrave, Culworth and Wappenham W.I.s and in 1923 when Sulgrave visited they had 100 members
Louise Stothard, President of Helmdon WI (8th March 2011)