WI at 100: Harrogate Spa Sweethearts in knitted floral tribute

  • Women’s Institute marking centenary in 2015
  • Knitted floral tribute placed at Harrogate’s war memorial

Members of Harrogate’s Spa Sweethearts Women’s Institute laid knitted floral tributes at the town’s war memorial in a link-up with fellow members in London.

On the morning of the WI’s centenary AGM at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday, members placed knitted poppy wreaths at the Memorial to Women of World War Two, which was vandalised during a protest in May.

Members of Spa Sweethearts WI have created a knitted poppy wreath and sent it to London to be placed on the memorial.

However, as they could not attend the event themselves, they placed another wreath on the war memorial in Harrogate at the same time, mirroring their fellow members in the capital.

Becky Warburton, president of Spa Sweethearts WI, said: “The tribute on the war memorial in London has been organised by WI members in other areas of the country. As soon as we heard it was happening, we knew we wanted to take part.

“Our members have been knitting furiously to create a poppy wreath which was sent to London ready for Thursday’s events.

Spa Sweethearts WI President Becky Warburton (centre) with committee members Lucy Cooper (l) and Jillaine Hudson (s).

Spa Sweethearts WI President Becky Warburton (centre) with committee members Lucy Cooper (l) and Jillaine Hudson (s).

“We knitted far more poppies than we needed for that wreath and we didn’t want them to go to waste, so we came up with the idea of organising a simultaneous tribute here in Harrogate.”

The vandalised war memorial in Whitehall was erected in 2005, having been funded through donations in memory of women who contributed to the war effort.

Rebecca Brown of Let’s Make Jam WI in Stoke, who organised the tribute with Joanne Croxford of Cambridge Blue Belles WI, said: “The response to the project has been amazing.

“The WI played a very important part in the Second World War, by organising a drive to preserve fruit and vegetables and keep the country fed when supplies were short – it’s where the ‘jam’ part of our ‘jam and Jerusalem’ nickname comes from.

“WI members were clearly very upset by the graffiti on the war memorial and have got behind this tribute with the enthusiasm they bring to everything they do. It will be a peaceful but powerful way to show that we still respect the sacrifices made by so many women during the war.”

Becky added: “Being part of the WI is fantastic. As well as getting to do fun things every month, we’re part of a large national organisation with a lot of history. It’s really important to us to get involved with events like this and pay tribute to women who made such enormous sacrifices.”