Part 5 Village Life and Work

The Women’s Institute


Thurlow W.I. has twenty members and meets on the second Tuesday of each month. The committee consists of the President (Mrs. Sylvia Robinson), Vice President (Mrs. Dorothy Clark), Treasurer (Mrs. Jean Lansdell), Secretary (Mrs. Margaret Ince) and seven others.

The W.I. was formed in 1946 with many more members than today ­ there were, for example, forty-two in 1952. Five of the founder members remain: Dora Rowlinson, Cherry Rising, Rene Sargent, Belle Thomas and Joan Smith.

Speakers are invited to present various topics at each meeting, except in May when national issues are discussed and voted on, and in December which is when we hold the Annual General Meeting. Examples of some recent talks are: A treasure trove at Ashdon, The history of vegetables, Behind the scenes in dress making couture and A wildlife photographer’s year. Outings are sometimes arranged but because of the small number of members short trips to local inns for a meal are favoured. In 1997, for example, we went to the Cherry Tree, Stradishall for Christmas, and the Hartest Rose and Crown on one summer evening to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

Each year members have the opportunity to join with the rest of Suffolk West at the A.G.M. in Bury St. Edmunds and the Autumn Council Meetings. The national meetings are held at the Albert Hall, the Birmingham Centre or various regional venues.

Members join in various other village events, like the annual Thurlow Fayre, held on the first Sunday in September, where they find themselves working hard to supply and serve refreshments. Some £500 was taken in 1998 from the sandwiches, cakes and tea.

Thurlow belongs to a group which consists of nearby Cowlinge, Sturmer, Kedington, Hundon and Haverhill. Suffolk West stretches from Sturmer to Hadleigh, Mildenhall to Sudbury. Competitions on subjects related to the talks (for instance, a Russian artifact when we had a talk on Waterways of the Tsars) are entered monthly and sometimes Thurlow W.I. enters county competitions, for example, “How green is your kitchen?”, which was all about saving the environment. Some members have also taken courses on topics such as country dancing and genealogy at Denman College.

Women’s Institute members celebrating the 50th anniversary of VE Day