Dunstable thanksgiving service celebrates 100 years of The Women’s Institute in Bedfordshire

The High Sheriff Julian Polhill and the Bishop of Bedford with Sally Ball, Helen Nellis, and Lynne Stubbings.
The High Sheriff Julian Polhill and the Bishop of Bedford with Sally Ball, Helen Nellis, and Lynne Stubbings.

The Women’s Institute in Bedfordshire is proud to be celebrating its centenary year and held a special ceremony at Dunstable’s Priory Church.

On Sunday, January 13, a service of thanksgiving was held to mark the commencement of the 100th anniversary of the Bedfordshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes.

Board of Trustees.

Board of Trustees.

A procession was led by the church choir, followed by the chairmen of both the local and national Federations Sally Ball and Lynne Stubbings, the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Julian Polhill, and HM Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis, escorted by the Bishop of Bedford, the Rt. Revd. Richard Atkinson OBE.

A spokeswoman said: “All were welcomed by Sally Ball chairman of Bedfordshire Federation, and the service hymns included “Jerusalem” the anthem always sung at every major WI event, and at many WI meetings!

“Everyone agreed it had been a wonderful event to mark the commencement of our centenary year.”

The first WI in Bedfordshire opened inDunstable in 1917 followed in 1918 by the formation of another eight institutes, many of them thriving today. Fifteen institutes were required to enable the formation of a Federation.

In September 1919, at a meeting at Shire Hall, Bedford, presided over by Mrs S.M. Whitbread where 24 WI’s were represented, the Bedfordshire County Federation was formed and Mrs Whitbread was appointed as the first county chairman.