WI - The Bigger Picture


The National Federation of WIs

History of the WI

Denman College

Surrey Federation of WIs

Post Mill Group

The National Federation of WIs

The National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) is the largest women's organisation in the UK with 205,000 members in 6,800 WIs in England, Wales and the Islands, of which DEWI is proud to be part.


NFWI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

The national headquarters of the WI is in London. It also has an office in Cardiff, NFWI-Wales, and a residential college in Oxfordshire, Denman College. It produces a membership magazine, WI Life.

WI members gather from all over England and Wales once a year for the AGM. London almost comes to a standstill when over 5,000 women swarm from the Royal Albert Hall to Kensington Gardens for a picnic lunch. DEWI members left to right are Margaret Lewis, Carol Hunt, Pam Berkley, Barbara Jones, Patti Hennessy, Sue Dean, Enid Marten, Anne van Vliet, Margaret Watson and Sylvia Pettingell.



Karil Greenhalgh, Anne van Vliet, Sylvia Pettingell, Christine Gatland and Rob Rushton enjoying a picnic lunch in Kensington
Gardens on NFWI AGM day May 2012.

The Modern WI - A BBC interview

History of the WI

The WI movement began at Stoney Creek, Ontario in Canada in 1897, when Adelaide Hoodless addressed a meeting for the wives of members of the Farmers' Institute.  

The first British WI meeting took place on 16th September 1915 at Llanfairpwll on Anglesey in North Wales. The WI was originally set up in the UK to revitalise rural communities and to encourage countrywomen to become more involved in producing and preserving food during the First World War to help increase the supply of food to the war-torn nation.

Since then, our aims have broadened. Today we play a unique role in enabling women to gain new skills, take part in wide-ranging activities, and campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities. The WI is a diverse organisation open to all women, and there are now WIs in towns and cities as well as villages.

Our 6,800 WIs are grouped together to form 70 county and island federations, each with a regional office.  

Denman College

Denman College is the WI’s own residential adult education college at Marcham, a small village near Abingdon, Oxford. 6,000 students a year attend 500 short courses to develop new skills, knowledge or hobbies. Whether your choice of course is Belly Dancing, Bookbinding, Baking or Byron, there is a course for everyone. Courses are also open to non-members, both men and women. It is a wonderful retreat where our members make new friends, enjoy learning a new skill, whilst getting away from things for a few days.  Visit the website
 

The college was established in 1948 at Marcham Park which was purchased in 1947 with 100 acres of land for £16,000. The college was named after Lady Denman who had recently retired after 30 years as the first Chairman of the NFWI.

Every year in May DEWI offers members a chance to win a bursary which pays for a two-day stay at Denman College with full board and travel included.

Body Fit Camp at Denman College

The Computer Room where intensive study takes place well into the evening,


and the Dining Room which provides a welcome break between course sessions.


Denman's "state of the art" Home Economics Centre which was
remodelled in 2009 and is now called the Teaching Kitchen

One of the comfortable bedrooms at Denman College.


Surrey Federation of WIs

Surrey Federation has a tradition of fun and friendship, with a strong network of valued friends throughout the county.  SFWI holds a variety of events, where members and non-members can get to know each other, and become involved in a range of activities.  From the federation headquaraters, based in Guildford, the SFWI helps and advises WIs throughout the county.  They produce their own monthly county magazine, Surrey WI News. 


Sylvia, Margaret and Dawn on a guided walk round Godalming, organised by Surrey Federation. 

Post Mill Group 

Post Mill is a group of five local WIs to which DEWI is affiliated: Lingfield Evening, Pollards Oak, Oxted and Godstone.  Group meetings are held several times a year; these are either talks or social evenings, and coach outings are also laid on from time to time. The purpose of Post Mill Group is to encourage neighbouring WIs to get to know each other. We pool our resources to get the very best speakers.