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Demand continues to grow at new WIs

Demand continues to grow at new WIs

Published at 8:02am 5th March 2016.

More than 150 women have joined the Women's Institute in North Yorkshire in the last month, thanks to four new branches being created - and the resurgence shows no sign of stopping.

After an initial meeting in late January saw 125 women pack into a room in Harrogate to find out more about WI membership, three new groups were established in the town.

Harrogate Roses was the first to be formed with 39 members.

It was followed by Starbeck Sirens with 30 members and finally Harrogate Rascals with 66 members.

The names were all chosen by members, with Harrogate Rascals being inspired by the famous cakes created in the town by Bettys.

Starbeck Sirens were partly named after the mythical creatures which lured men to their deaths and partly after the sound of emergency vehicles going up and down the road outside their meeting place at St Andrew's Church.

Bex Hartley, who founded Spa Sweethearts WI in Harrogate in 2011, said: "The new members have been really enthusiastic and full of great ideas. They've chosen committees and their names are fantastic.

"We're looking forward to getting to know them better over the coming months and helping them get established and develop a programme of meetings for the year."

Even more members are expected to sign up at the next meetings of the three new branches.

Starbeck Sirens WI will meet at The Welcome Centre at St Andrew's Church at 7.30pm on Wednesday 9 March.

Harrogate Roses WI will meet at Elim Pentecostal Church at 7.30pm on Monday 14 March and Harrogate Rascals WI will meet at the same venue at 7.30pm on Wednesday 23 March.

Thanks to the growing demand, a fourth group could be established.

An initial meeting of a new afternoon WI will be held at The Welcome Centre at St Andrew's Church at 1.30pm for a 2pm start on Tuesday 8 March.

Meanwhile, in Skipton, a new group was set up in late February to meet on a Tuesday afternoon.

However, interest from younger women in the town has led to another evening WI being proposed, on top of the two which already exist.

An initial meeting will be held at the Three Links Club, on Rectory Lane, from 7.30pm on Monday 7 March.

There are already several WI branches meeting around Skipton and Harrogate, including Spa Sweethearts WI and Stray Ladies WI, both of which have closed to new members after reaching maximum capacity.

The surge in membership has attracted national media attention, and Spa Sweethearts' current and founding presidents, Lucy Cooper and Bex Hartley, have even appeared on TV to talk about it.

Lucy said: "It has been a fantastic month for the WI in Harrogate and we're really proud to be part of it all.

"We're sure the new members will love being in the WI as much as we have."

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.