My View, Mel Hewitt: The Women’s Institute has won me over

St John's Hospice Community Fundraiser Mel Hewitt
St John's Hospice Community Fundraiser Mel Hewitt

I’ve never been much of a joiner of things. I was never a Brownie, I took ballet classes for a while but it was soon clear that Darcey Bussell would have nothing to worry about and the only time I joined an aerobics class, left and right suddenly seemed very confusing.

Being part of a group in general has never appealed very much. It’s not that I’m a loner, unsociable or not a team player. My favourite things to do – reading, watching films and writing – tend not to need group participation.

Sue Drake and Pauline Walker of Sprotbrough WI

Sue Drake and Pauline Walker of Sprotbrough WI

So, no-one was more surprised than I when I joined the Women’s Institute earlier this year.

There were several very good reasons why this happened. Firstly, I had the pleasure last year of meeting Lorna Montgomery, president of Sprotbrough WI and hospice volunteer and patron. The WI spring fayre very generously supported our development appeal and I had the chance to take part in a quiz night that also raised funds for the project. The lovely, lively, bright and well informed ladies of the WI inspired me to think after many years here was a group I really might join – a life-enhancing step.

As I also work full time it was a wonderful way to make sure, at least once a month, my mum and I could enjoy an evening together – just the two of us. It has proved to be a winning formula of new experiences and good company.

I have also been impressed by the guest speakers, the charity work and advocacy that the WI offers. With subjects from the history of Doncaster Royal Infirmary to graphology and a supper evening with a meal, it’s only three months in and I’m hooked.

The WI is celebrating its centenary this year. From its beginnings in Canada it has flourished, bringing knowledge, companionship, and support to charities and a voice on matters that affect all.

In a short space of time the WI has shown me it is greater than the sum of its parts – a fantastic example of team work and the power of community. Travel may broaden the mind, but opening our eyes to the possibilities and potential available to us in our own backyard is a great first step on the learning curve of life.

So, Ladies of Sprotbrough WI, I salute you. The 21st century Women’s Institute is so much more than jam and Jerusalem – but then again I believe it always has been. Anyone who joined us in June last year for the marvellous afternoon tea at the Best Western Premier Mount Pleasant Hotel will I’m certain be delighted to know that the event is taking place again on June 23 this year. Tickets will be available from me at the end of April. Grateful thanks to the hotel for its continuing support for St John’s.