Made With Love by the Women's Institute
I have been a member of my local WI in Yorkshire for some years. It has been a lovely way to make friends in the village, learn from guest speakers and make a difference with the Women's Institute campaigns. During lockdown especially the connection on my WI What's App group has been very welcome and so supportive.
I am now proud to be a WI speaker sharing the adventure in person or more recently via Zoom with members across the country. This is always an absolute joy and I have met so many wonderful women.
I am keen to follow the WI's work and recently discovered the most beautiful photo of handmade quilts laid together on the pews of a cathedral on their Instagram account. Both the photo and accompanying story took my breath away. Many people had commented to say how much this had uplifted and inspired them.
The caption on the post explained that Bricket Wood WI and friends in Hertfordshire made 62 quilts to donate to their local Women's Refuge. They were on display in The Lady Chapel in St Albans Cathedral shortly before being donated.
Here is the beautiful display:
Photo copyright and credit Caroline Ellis
I was eager to find out more and through the wonders of the WI and Facebook was able to hear from Caroline Ellis who, with Ginny Edwards, created the project. Here is what Caroline told me:
"Our project started in a slightly different way when we made cuddle quilts for the NHS Staff who were supporting COVID patients. They were very well received, we made 60, and also made scrubs bags for staff to put their uniforms in to take home and put in the washing machine.
Our friends in the WI and quilting groups that we are members of were so supportive we decided to make more for the Refuge at Christmas. Anyone who quilts seems to have a huge stash of fabric.
I had been involved in fundraising for our local refuge 5 years ago and know the brilliant work they do. I heard stories of women running from their homes with only the clothes they are wearing, often being rescued by the police. One girl left her home having been given a train ticket to escape her abusive father, on her 16th birthday.
Making and gifting them a quilt was something they could keep and take with them as they started a new life. They are made with love and that love is passed on to them.
We hoped to make 27 quilts, one for each room in the refuge, but the quilts kept pouring in. We were told there wold be 62 residents over Christmas, so in the end we were able to make one quilt for everyone!
We have already decided we are going to do it again this Christmas 2021.
We made a festive bag for each resident and WI members who could not quilt bought gifts (as suggested by the refuge) or donated money. Involving our local Rotary Club, we donated £250 for food over the festive period.
St Albans Abbey were delighted to let us photograph the quilts and even the Mayor came along to support.
A real community effort."
I found the story behind the beauty of the quilts deeply moving and uplifting and was very grateful to Caroline for sharing it. It was a true example of shining a light in difficult times and showing love in action. I was proud the WI had been campaigning to end violence against women.
With permission, I posted the photo and caption on my own Instagram account and was overwhelmed by the response - over 4770 likes and counting, plus many comments that it had lifted spirits and made everyone think about what they might do to share love in action like this.
So proud to be a WI member and thank you Caroline, Ginny and Bricket Wood WI for your amazing work and for letting me share this story.
Are you a WI member or indeed a quilter? Please do share your own stories and photos.
With love, Jo x
Picture 1: Copyright and Credit to Caroline Ellis
Picture 3: A Zoom meeting with Selby Swans