Founded on 27tháJanuary 1925 as a result of a meeting in the Hotel Room in December 1924 when 34 interested ladies were present. The first President was Mrs. Corlett of West Down, Vice Presidents: Mrs. Farewell from Little Silworthy and Mrs. Spread, Berridon Hall, Secretaries Mrs. F. Slee and Miss G. Ashton. Treasurers were Mrs. J.L. Martin and Miss Roberts. They met on 9tháFebruary for the first time and proposed a free tea for intended members. A tea committee was given £2 to purchase a kettle for 5 shillings and to hire the Hotel Room, (3 shillings in the Winter and 2/6d in the summer for meetings). A Games and Amusements committee was elected and 32 members joined at 2 shillings each, WI badges 1 shilling. Membership quickly rose to 59.

Crafts such as raffia work, baking, cane slatting chairs, loose cushions, leather buttonholes and glove making were popular as were travel talks and lantern slides. Sports and picnics were held at West Down in the summer and the first fund raising event was a Christmas Fair, all members being in fancy dress. £49 profit was shared with the Bradworthy Nursing Association, Bideford Hospital and St. Dunstans. Jerusalem, sung to open meetings, was accompanied by Miss. G. Ashton, Miss Ham and Miss F. Martin on violins and accompanied on the piano by Miss Furse. They also played for community singing, folk dancing and to accompany the jazz band founded by Mrs. Spread, who was given £3 to buy instruments.

The first local good deed was to have an electric light fitted by Mr. Wickett and maintenance for one year costing a total of £7 during 1928.

They celebrated their tenth birthday in 1935 with a penny contest for a decorated head dress, fortune telling, dips, penny bazaar, bagatelle, a whist drive and the usual stalls of today making a profit of £9.15s.4d.

Founder members of the WI

Founder members of the WI at their 25th (silver Jubilee) anniversary in 1950.

Back Row: Mrs. W. Seldon, Mrs. W. Bromell, Mrs. E. Wade, Mrs. G. Elliot.

Front Row: Mrs. Kitto, Mrs. J. Jennings, Mrs. W. Short.

Also in 1935 Mrs. Corlett left the district for Ceylon, and was presented with a pair of leather gloves made by Miss G. Ashton and presented by Mrs. Betts. The cured skin being paid for by members of the glove making class. Miss G. Ashton also presented the bell which is available for meetings.

In 1937 the Men's Institute and the WI, who frequently met to hold Whist Drives as fund raising events, decided to form a carnival committee and the first carnival was held in that year for funds for local groups and charities, profit being £12. 18s. 0d. The Queen and attendants were chosen from WI members under the age of 20. Six committee members were elected but details of the great day are sparse.

In July 1937 the coming of age of the National Federation was celebrated at Alsery when 30 members had tea and a cake with 21 candles, given by Miss Ashton and cut by Mrs. H. Cory, the oldest member. An entertainment was broadcast by Lady Denman. Mrs. Burns gave a monologue and Mrs. Dobson a banjo solo. An ankle competition was judged by Mr. R. Ashton, Mr. Dobson. Dr. N. Betts and Mr. Alan Tee. Mrs. Smythe won and Miss Chubb was second (no more entrants?). Mrs. Bolitho made and gave ices and a happy time was had by all.

The outbreak of war brought immediate changes to Bradworthy as it did world wide. Fund raising for the local boys commences with 30 shillings being raised for the cigarette fund during a whip round at the November 1939 meeting. Whist Drives and Dances (combined) provided cash for the Devon Regiment Wool Fund to knit comforts for the troops. Local bands (Miss M. Slee and Mr. C. Cholwill) raised £15 for comforts and in 1941 £1 was raised by members for each of the 58 service personnel. No more picnics at Berridon, members prepared emergency centres for evacuees, happily not needed.

A carnival was held in 1944 for the Welcome Home Fund, £115 being collected. Miss W. Collier was elected Queen and Miss M. Trewin and Miss E. Dayman attendants. Mr. F. Balsdon and Mr. G. Elliott being tellers.

That WI speciality, jam, was a wartime necessity. Rose Hip picnics were organised. As they must be processed immediately to conserve Vitamin C, jam making kitchens were set up on large farms and the WI would process fruit available locally into jam to be distributed nation-wide.

Mrs. C. Short deserves a special mention here. She worked on tea stalls, bring and buy, jumble, whist, skittles and dances for 45 years. Later she arranged village outings for many years.

In the early 50's the first woman to serve on Bradworthy Parish Council was Mrs. W. Seldon, a founder member of the WI.

Parties with neighbouring Institutes and outings became popular, members paying into an outing fund in January to visit Sidmouth, Dartmouth, a family outing to Westward Ho! and an outing to Lands End costing 18/6d and leaving at 7.15 am, a real day out!

Competitions - best cooked article made from Żlb flour and 6d worth of ingredients (cook's choice), painted jam jar, best handy made from a flour bag.

Diary of WI events 1925 to 1993
1925 WI founded, President Mrs. Corlett
1928 First electric light installed
1947 First Carnival for local charities
1942 War time jam making commenced
1944 Carnival for welcome home fund
1952 First woman Parish Councillor elected
1953 Queen's Coronation year, Village party
1955 Bus shelter constructed, memento of above event
1961 Memorial Hall opened
1962 Mains water programme begun
1975 50th Birthday Party
1977 Queen's Silver Jubilee Square Party, presentation of mugs
1985 Diamond Jubilee dinner
1995 70 years an Institute

Speakers were chosen for talks on their war experiences in Norway and Palestine and travel talks on Madeira and America. Drama and music, concert parties, play-reading sessions and playlets, community singing, folk dancing and a WI choir was formed by Mrs. W. Worthy. Cash was raised for a piano in 1946.

Topics for debate were 'that wireless does not encourage the cultivation of amateur talent'. 'Should women participate in politics' and 'Should men expect women to wait up for them?'

During the fifties, the Carnival had become such a large event that three organisations were needed to arrange the evening. The Football Club and British legion together with the WI each elected 12 members to serve on a committee to select the Queen and Attendants and share one third of the profits. The WI had a fair in the Autumn to raise funds for the carnival.

In 1953 Bradworthy celebrated the Queens Coronation Year. In March a flowering cherry tree was planted in the Square by Mrs. W.J. Cory to commemorate this event. It was suggested that a bus shelter would be a more tangible memento of this occasion to benefit the community and a pageant, concert and Autumn Fair raised £125 which enabled Mr. A. Roberts to construct the bus shelter and in May 1955 Mr. and Mrs Hilton officiated at the ceremony and Miss S. Petherick presented buttonholes. A brass plate costing 40/- commemorated this event. Waste paper was collected for two years to keep it in good repair.

Competition:- Group Meeting 1956. A packed lunch and hand knitted shawl.

During the 60's members protested to their MP about the state of the water supplied to the village. A promise of mains water during 1962 as capital became available. Later in the 60's the water board attempted to dispense with the local pumps at each end of the Square and the voice of the WI resulted in a reprieve.

Members visited Westward TV for a recording of Treasure Hunt and held an Any Questions? evening in the Assembly Rooms. Question master was Mr. Fair, team:- Mrs. George, Mrs Somerton, Mr. I. Quance and Mr. E. Lott. This raised £2 2s 0d for the Memorial Hall Funds in 1959. Bazaars and Jumble Sales were held for this new cause and in 1961 the Memorial Hall was opened and the WI lent their piano for hall use.

50 old people attended a Jubilee Party in 1965 in the Church Room. Tea entertainment and a slide show of local interest given by Mr. Burrow was followed by community singing and this became an annual event.

The Memorial Hall extension was opened in 1972 - we participated in the local concert and used the extension for our meetings at 50p a session.

In July 1975 the 50th birthday was celebrated with a meal for 110 guests and friends. The celebration cake was cut by Mrs. W. Seldon and Mrs. W. Short, two of our founder members.

The children's tea party for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 was held in the Square and the WI served food for more than 100 children in the parish. This was followed by the presentation of mugs, the youngest child being Hannah Downing who was just a few weeks old.

With the revival of the carnival in the late 1970's we have provided a tableau or walking group until the present day winning many first prizes.

The WI has raised funds continuously for the Red Cross, Cancer Campaign, Doctor's Surgery, Northam Lodge, the Church Clock, and the numerous good causes mentioned.

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