Hundreds of WI members descended on the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton yesterday (Thursday) to catch a glimpse of the institute’s centenary baton, which is touring the nation.
Sipping buck’s fizz and enjoying cream cakes, women from the all over the High Peak eagerly awaited the dainty green baton, while tapping their feet and reclining on deck chairs, as the Tideswell Male Voice Choir sang wartime ditties.
After arriving by vintage tractor from Tideswell Moor, the baton was relayed by six conveners towards the bandstand where it was presented to the region’s longest serving member, Margaret White.
Holding the baton above her head in victory, the crowd, featuring representatives from the borough’s 35 groups, erupted into cheers.
After a speech from the town crier Bill Weston and the High Peak Mayor Cllr Alan Barrow, the baton was waved off from the picnic in the park aboard the Buxton Tram to go to rest overnight in Chinley.
Margaret, 92, who joined Chinley and Buxworth WI in 1956, said she was “honoured” to play a role in the celebrations.
“I was a bit nervous when they asked, as I can’t see very well and I can’t walk far, and I was picturing the Olympic torch,” she laughed.
“I joined the institute because I didn’t have much else to do. I had a young daughter who I looked after in the day and as they met on an evening, it was one of the few things women could do in those days.
“I’ve held most of the offices at Chinley, secretary, group convener, social secretary... I’ve enjoyed going to the Llangollen Music Festival and the national WI meeting in London.”
The baton contained a memory stick, onto which each of the 69 federations uploads 12 photos from their centenary celebrations on its travels through the UK.