A GROUP of women are celebrating 40 years of their WI.

Avon WI was started on January 9, 1973 and first met in the Annexe in Pennys Lane a month later.

Its founders were M Bailey, SP Mansbridge, D Bennetto, B Cheeseman, A Emmons, MA Fairey, L Firth, E Garton, G Hall, A Knapman, G Robinson, DP Thurston, JG Willis, V Williams, B Colborne, M Gibbs, B Hope, J Hankin, R Rogers, G Smith and WJ Smith.

Suzanne Mansbridge was selected as president, Margaret Bailey as treasurer and Ann Emmons as secretary.

The new institute was to be held in the evenings to allow young mums to attend once their husbands had returned from work.

By 1977 Eirene Bell had taken over as president, with Sue Oakes as secretary.

In 1979 Joy Tosvedin was president, as well as a member of the Avon Flappers, who entertained WI members at the group meeting at St Mary’s Hall. Other flappers included Ann Mackavoy, Eirene, Suzanne and Betty Harvey.

The group celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1998 with lots of founder members after “much effort” had been made tracking them down.

The party was held at Avonway, and honoured guests included voluntary county organiser (VCO) Pam McKinley and Elizabeth Redropp, who had been VCO in 1973. A cake was made by president Rose Crouch.

For the group’s 40th celebrations president Isabel Brown, vice president Barbara Woodcock, secretary Christine Pope, treasurer Mary Adams and committee members Dot Baines and Anne Garrard joined members for a special meal at The Ship Inn, and a meeting at which they were entertained by Tim Austin with songs and jokes.

Now the group meets at the United Reformed Church in High Street on the second Monday of the month, with speakers on a wide range of subjects.

At the next meeting on March 11 Michael Duffin will talk about bees.

For more information about coming to a one-off meeting or joining up, contact Anne Garrard on 01425 655192 or Dot Baines on 01425 652604.