Gawcott WI was re-formed in 1996. Currently there are 20 members, meeting monthly to hear speakers on various subjects from Foot Reading to Juggling, the birds in our gardens, and voluntary work in Sierra Leone. We usually have a spring and an autumn outing. Members have attended events/courses at Denman College, set in lovely grounds near Abingdon, managed by national WI but is, sadly, due to close. We have two other monthly groups – a Walking Group and a Social Group when we get together very informally with sewing/crafts and includes tea and cake obviously! We endeavour to keep up to date and, more particularly, help the Gawcott community with any events or projects if we possibly can. You can also find us on Facebook.
In QEII Diamond Jubilee 2012 we purchased a red telephone box to commemorate the Gilbert Scott family. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, grandson of the famous Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott born in Gawcott, designed this iconic red kiosk. It stands on the green and has been converted into a mini library, managed by WI with help from residents.
Various events have been held over the years to fund raise, either for WI or local organisations - a fashion show for Steeple Claydon Day Care, craft fairs, and flower festivals in Holy Trinity church. We serve refreshments at the annual local Alec's Angels charity event, and for many years have served Cream Teas on the Green. We have arranged 'open' evenings for the village – John Bercow MP (previous Speaker) came for a Q and A evening in his younger days, a talk about the Lenborough Hoard discovery, the famous Gilbert Scott family of architects, and an opera singer entertained us with songs and stories of life in her world.
To celebrate the WI's centenary in 2015, which began in Canada in late 19th century and in Britain (Anglesey) in 1915, we embroidered a tablecloth with 70 past and present members' names, and to which new members are added. Flower troughs were placed at the phone box and some 200 daffodil bulbs planted along the church path. One of our members attended the annual general meeting at the Royal Albert Hall at which Her Majesty the Queen and other senior royal ladies, all WI members, were also present.
The WI has a long and valued reputation as a practical, positive and principled organisation which has played a fundamental role in women's lives and whenever possible acted in the interests of British society. Members 'make' the individual WIs and join for several reasons – companionship/social, to campaign, to support community projects, share knowledge and learn new skills or re-kindle old ones. Gawcott WI ensures a friendly and welcoming environment and accommodates members' interests whenever possible.
In the current Covid climate we don’t know when we might resume meetings in the village hall but we remain in contact via technology, with zoom talks on our regular monthly date and meeting in permitted groups. During early lockdown some members were sewing laundry bags, scrubs, headbands and latterly masks for village residents for which donations were passed to the Alec’s Angels charity. The subscription, with payment postponed to April 2021, is currently £44. Visitors are very welcome at our zoom talks – free! (normally £4 for a couple of hours with light refreshment - 1st Tuesday in the month at 8pm in the Village Hall). Details are in the monthly village Newsletter. Contact Dawn Rowe 01280 815953, or Jennie Smith 01280 813946 if you wish to enquire further.