Saddleworth WI reflects on keeping going during an unusual year in 2020

IT was certainly a year to reflect on as Saddleworth Women’s Institute looked back over 2020 at their annual meeting.

The event in March was held on Zoom, led by President Pam Armstrong, who highlighted the impact of the pandemic but how members made the most of the situation.

They started 2020 with a busy couple of months as Michelle Nye gave a chocolate talk and tasting, Judith Barker explored her many years in the theatre, there was a trip to the Oldham Coliseum, and numerous activities and events for their various groups.

However, then lockdown arrived and plans were put on hold. But members didn’t let Covid-19 stop them as they switched onto Zoom to continue.

Saddleworth WI craft spring paper wreaths

They enjoyed monthly meetings with guest speakers, Book Group, Craft Group, quiz nights and a monthly Tiffin (a chat with friends old and new), all online.

Communication became a challenge but the committee rose to it with phone calls, emails, newsletters, a Facebook page, WhatsApp groups, doorstep distanced contact and more.

Members who could sew, knit and bake started making scrubs, bags and facemasks, knitted hearts, bonding squares and baby blankets, frontline care bears and Cakes of Kindness for the community.

The committee delivered anniversary chocolates to all members in September and also organised a doorstep delivery Secret Santa in December.

The Walking Group took part in the Royal British Legion’s 11/11 Challenge, raising almost £400 for this very worthwhile cause.

The National Federation extended 2020 membership by three months for no additional cost, taking them through to the end of March this year.

The varied Zoom speakers over the year included Beth Butcher from Finchley WI who spoke about her job working with deaf teenagers, Alison Marsden from Gardening by Design in Kent, and Sally Mabey about the Glamorgan Poppies WI team’s winning appearance on Eggheads and her own appearances on Mastermind.

Saddleworth WI Crafty Chat Wreaths

Misba Khan gave an insight into her part in an ‘All-Woman expedition to the North Pole’, Andrew Nelson spoke about ‘Women in Art’, and Frances Carlaw looked at the history and science of the world’s most secretive and only living gemstone, the pearl.

David Allen explored the extraordinary world of Victorian etiquette and ‘Quirky Bird’ Lynn Barrow gave a painting demonstration after which members created Christmas card designs.

They began 2021 with Sam Durrani, a professional stuntman, and Chris Duffin recounting stories from her 20 year career as a prison governor.

Their Zoom speaker programme continues in April with Liza Jones with her talk Knickers! – the history of underwear, followed by reflexologist Penny Simmonds in May talking about the origins of the practice and the different parts of the body that are reflected in our hands.

Members’ subscription from April 1, 2021 until March 31, 2022 is now payable. As a thank you for being a member in 2020, the committee is offering a reduction of £10 so the full year membership will be £34. To join or renew email
When things get back to normal, Saddleworth WI meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 7pm for 7.30pm start at The White Hart, Lydgate. Find out more online at or call 07763 028466.

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