On 22 March 1920, a group of local women met in Rotherfield Greys near Henley, to start a new Women’s Institute, which they named Greys WI. At first the regular monthly meetings were held in members’ homes, until they moved into the newly built Greys Village Hall in 1925, and they are still there. They met on the 3rd Wednesday of each month (apart from August) at 2:30pm, through war and peace, boom and bust, good times and bad, until March 2020.
Merryl Roberts said, “We were all set to celebrate our first 100 years when lockdown arrived. BAM! All our wonderful plans had to be abandoned, and we went back to basics. The first basic was that nearly all our members were confined to their homes, many of them alone. We needed to keep in regular contact. Of course, our President, Val phones members regularly – for a moan and a giggle. We also produce a monthly Newsletter – part WI info, advice about the pandemic and, increasingly, interesting and funny contributions from our members, stuck at home with creative juices flowing. This mainly is sent out by email, but some of our members don’t have an email address, or simply prefer a printed copy – and we deliver to these, leaving the Newsletter on the doorstep, standing at a safe distance waving disposable gloves and chatting, very therapeutic. A member’s granddaughter made every WI member a face mask, and these were delivered by hand to everyone, so we are primed for freedom, when it comes! We have discovered the joys of Facetime, and our Committee meets by Zoom.”
At the moment the Greys WI are planning a grand re-opening on 16 September 2020, 2:30pm, Greys Village Hall to celebrate their 100 years.
Merryl added, “Details of this meeting have not yet finalised, but will be announced on the Herald. Come and see us, I promise – it will be fun!”