Follow the WI baton up and down Ivinghoe Beacon

BFWI vice chair Pat Poole (left) at the centenary celebration lunch
BFWI vice chair Pat Poole (left) at the centenary celebration lunch

Olympic batons were all the rage three years ago – and now it looks like canny members of the Women’s Institute have lifted the idea for their centenary celebrations.

Following Olympic tradition, their baton is also on a country-wide mission – to visit every single one of the 69 Federations across the UK.

The WI version houses a memory stick containing 12 photographs from each, representing their particular area.

It started its travels in January last year in the Welsh village of Llanfairpwll, perhaps better known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysilio-gogogoch.

It’s also where the first WI was opened.

The baton is due to arrive in Ivinghoe next Tuesday (April 28) where it will be accorded full WI honours.

Bucks Federation vice chair Pat Poole said: “It will be taken on a canal boat by Wing WI members Valerie and Ed Fielder.

“It will then be transported by Morris Traveller to the car park at the base of Ivinghoe Beacon.

“At noon our former chair Jean Morris and Betty Furner of the baton committee will lead walkers to the top of the beacon and back.

“And we’d very much like as many members of the public as possible to join us.”

The baton will be walked to The Lawns in Ivinghoe and that’s where the local festivities will really begin.

Pat said: “We’re having a number of VIP visitors including the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, and our national chair Janice Langley.

“Refreshments will be available from the community cafe and everyone will be entertained by Buckinghamshire’s WI choir, The Joyful Divas.

“Entry is free and there will be lots of displays, activities, raffles and more.”

Needless to say Pat, who lives in Amersham, is praying for the sun to shine on this historic occasion.

Ivinghoe is the site of Buckingamshire’ first WI and the baton will be handed to the Bedfordshire Federation at 4pm.

Members from all WIs will descend on Buckingham Palace on June 2 to meet the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex. The grand finale will be the AGM on June 4 at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the Queen and Princess Anne.