Chairman champions WI cause

New WI chairwoman, Hilda Jackson.
New WI chairwoman, Hilda Jackson.

AFTER moving from a city to a hamlet in West Suffolk, Hilda Jackson joined the Women’s Institute as a way to try and meet new people.

Nineteen years on, after years as a Great Ashfield and Badwell Ash WI committee member and a member of the federation’s board of trustees, in April she was elected as the Suffolk West Federation of Women’s Institutes (SWFWI) county chairman, a position she regards ‘very much as that of team leader’.

“It’s been very important to my life since I moved to Suffolk,” said Mrs Jackson.

The mother-of-two added: “Moving to a country location was probably the prime factor in my joining. I had been living in Norwich before that.

“It was more difficult to get involved and the children had left home so when I met somebody who said ‘we’ve got a WI here, you must come along’, I went and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Her involvement has enabled her to go gliding and taken her skid pan training, among other activities, and even once caused her to be detained on a coach travelling cross-country, an ordeal that continues to amuse the 56-year-old.

On her first WI outing, which took her to Paris for a weekend, the coach she was on became delayed after tests carried out underneath the vehicle showed positive for traces of explosives. Sniffer dogs eventually gave the coach the all-clear.

A former veterinary officer, Mrs Jackson now enjoys gardening, reading and singing, but she says there are many interests shared among WI members.

Indeed, Mrs Jackson sees part of her role as chairman as recruiting new members, particularly younger women.

She said: “The point of the WI is it’s everything you want it to be.

“The WI is multifaceted in terms of what it offers, from meeting people and making new friends right through to learning new skills or trying something never tried before.”

She is encouraging anyone interested in the WI to go to one of a number of showcasing events being held on September 22 and 29. To find out more, go to www.thewi.org.uk