Centenary Exhibition Celebrates Berkshire’s Women’s Institutes

OPENING to the public from 25th September 2019, ‘Always here for you’ looks back at how the Berkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes (BFWI) inspired women in the county.

The BFWI was set up on 5th December 1919 and aimed to educate rural women, to help the war effort and to share and learn new skills. They supported the county’s WIs in enabling women to gather together, to help each other, the community in which they lived in, as well as the greater community of their county and their country. This is just as relevant and important to the BFWI today.

Support for local and national issues covered a wide range of subjects such as health, education, agriculture and the environment. Perhaps the most evocative was supporting the war effort.

The exhibition highlights how over the last 100 years, the BFWI has encouraged its members to learn something new and empowered them to make a difference in their communities.

Visitors will be able to discover just how many items Berkshire WIs made for the Red Cross during World War One and learn how they campaigned for milk in rural areas. They will also be able to find out exactly what went in to a Berkshire Pie, a recipe created by WI members from Berkshire.

On display will be gems exclusively provided by the BFWI for the exhibition such as the oldest BFWI badge showing the Berkshire stag, a 70th anniversary bone china dish with an illustration of Watlington House in Reading and a very large BFWI banner.

The exhibition is open on Tuesday and Wednesdays 9-5, Thursdays 9-9 and Fridays 9-4.30 from 25th September to 20th December 2019 at the Berkshire Record Office in Reading. You can find out more about the ‘Always here for you’ exhibition by contacting the Berkshire Record Office at: 9 Coley Avenue, Reading, RG1 6AF / 0118 937 5132 | arch@reading.gov.uk |

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Marlene Voke, Chairman of the Berkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes, said:

“Berkshire Federation of Women’s institutes is thrilled to be working with the Berkshire Record Office to celebrate and honour one hundred years of inspiring Berkshire women.”

Mark Stevens, County Archivist, said:

“The WI has an enduring influence on county life and has helped so many people over the last 100 years. It is a pleasure to celebrate the centenary of the Berkshire Federation and we’re delighted to be telling some of the many stories from its archives.”

Councillor Karen Rowland, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said:

“This cooperation with the Berkshire Federation of Women’s Institute should be yet another fascinating exhibition hosted by the Berkshire Record Office.  The opportunity to view the unique treasures and be inspired by the stories of local women’s contributions to their communities over the past 100 years should empower us all.  I’d urge everyone make some time to pay a visit to our wonderful Berkshire Record Office to celebrate the history and influence of WI’s in Berkshire.”

Notes for Editor

Photocall: There is a private view for guests of the WI and the Berkshire Record Office on Monday 23rd September at 3.30pm. The Lord Lieutenant, Mr James Puxley, the Chairman of the Berkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes, Marlene Voke, and the Count y Archivist of the Berkshire Record Office, Mark Stevens, will welcome guests. Photographers  / reporters welcome.

Berkshire Record Office

Berkshire Record Office is the joint archives service for the six Berkshire councils.  It looks after historic collections from public authorities and private bodies from across the county, dating from the 12th century to the present day. Items from the collections can be consulted for free during opening hours, Tuesday-Friday.

The Record Office is always happy to add historic documents and photographs to its collections. Anyone with relevant material is invited to contact: Berkshire Record Office, 9 Coley Avenue, Reading RG1 6AF.

Tel: 0118 937 5132 arch@reading.gov.uk | www.berkshirerecordoffice.org.uk

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Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301