“Unprecedented” interest has seen three new WIs formed in Harrogate in one night after more than 120 women turned up at the first meeting of a new branch.
The huge response impressed even the experienced WI members on hand to help run the meeting, who said it was the most successful launch meeting that had ever been held in the region.
Agreeing the demand for places was too high to form just one new WI, they offered to help set up two groups to meet in Harrogate and one in Starbeck, all meeting monthly from February onwards.
There are already several WI branches meeting around Harrogate, including Spa Sweethearts WI. The group reached more than 100 members in 2015, the WI’s centenary year, and its waiting list continued to grow, prompting its committee to help set up a new group in Harrogate.
Bex Hartley, who founded Spa Sweethearts WI in 2011 and helped to organise last night’s meeting (Wednesday, January 28), said: “We were completely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of everyone who came to the meeting.
“When Spa Sweethearts formed, we had about 30 members at the first meeting and it grew quite quickly after that. However, I never imagined we would have so many people for this new group right from the outset, and to form three new groups in one night is unprecedented.
“It’s great to see the WI thriving in Harrogate as it enters its second century. As with Spa Sweethearts, many of these new ladies were in their 20s and 30s, proving that the WI continues to appeal to women of all ages by offering the chance to try new things and meet new people in a friendly and welcoming environment.”
“I’m sure the new members will get as much out of their members as we have over the last few years.”
Details of the three new groups’ next meetings are now being organised and will be announced soon. Anyone interested in joining one of the new WIs, or in attending a future meeting as a guest, can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be kept informed.
The WI is open to all women aged 18 or over, and annual membership for 2016 is £37.50. Guests – including men – are welcome to attend meetings too.