About us

Diane McLaren Diane McLaren

Welcome to the Wiltshire Federation

A very warm welcome to Wiltshire - A beautiful and diverse County in the South West of England almost half of which is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.  Wiltshire is uniquely rooted in the past; Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age people all built settlements on the hills and downs, while Romans, Normans and Saxons left their mark on our countryside and towns. Stonehenge and Avebury are by far the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK, but Wiltshire is also known for the eight iconic white horses carved into its chalk hills.  Other attractions and landmarks include Salisbury Cathedral which boasts the tallest spire in England, Castle Combe voted one of the prettiest villages in England, Lacock the home of photography, Caen Hill Locks - one of the original seven wonders of the waterways, and last but by no means least the home of Brunel’s Great Western Railway in Swindon.

Our History - The Wiltshire Federation of WIs came into existence in 1919, the same year that six WIs were established. Redlynch & District WI is our longest standing Institute and is the eleventh oldest in the country. It celebrated its centenary in September 1916 and possesses a fascinating archive of written and photographic material from the early years right up to the present day. All WIs are encouraged to archive such material at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham where it can be viewed by anyone interested.

A review of the last 12 months (October 2015 – October 2016) - During the past year our Federation recruited 602 new members, formed 3 new WIs:  Whiteparish Village, Pewsham Belles & Lockside, provided access to both new and educational activities, stimulated high levels of interest in the majority of our events, provided enhanced access to information via our own publicity material and website, as well as through social media, local radio and the press and established Presidents’ Fora to facilitate interfacing opportunities both between WI Presidents and with the Trustees.  

We also held a successful Annual Council Meeting at the City Hall in Salisbury with three guest speakers: Councillor Eric Shaw - the Mayor of Swindon, Tony Neate - the CEO of Get Safe Online and the High Sheriff of Wiltshire David Hempleman-Adams, all of whom injected humour into their fascinating presentations. The day concluded with a delightful musical interlude provided by professional opera singer Zoe Turner and her accompanist Janice Thompson.

The Saving Denman Appeal - An Update on Wiltshire Federation Plans.  Under the lead of our Events Committee, all of our Federation Trustees and Committee members are now working hard to put on a grand Auction of Items and Promises this Summer in aid of the Saving Denman Appeal.  The auction will take place at Lavington School on Saturday 19th August and I very much hope that you will all support it, both by donating items or promises for auctionand by coming along on the day.  We have secured the services of a professional auctioneer to run the event who has generously waived his fee. The flyer giving more details is with your Secretary now. So do please have a good old rummage around at home for items to donate.  Examples of Promises might be offers to bake a cake, cook a meal, walk the dog, do some gardening or ironing etc etc. There is scope to think of lots of imaginative ways to raise funds so please do what you can.

The Federation Travel Club.  We are looking to secure the longer term future of our very popular Federation Travel Club by recruiting additional members to serve on the Travel Club Committee. If you (or you and a friend) might be interested, and would like to find out more, please contact any of the current Committee members who will be delighted to talk to you. The flyer giving their contact details has been circulated in the latest Wiltshire Newsletter.

We still have some vacancies on our Federation Committees, so if you are interested in coming along to a meeting as an observer please do let me know; there is no commitment implied on either side and your travel costs will be reimbursed. I look forward to hearing from you.

Diane McLaren
Federation Chairman