The Scottish Rural Women’s Institutes SWRI, “the Rural” which was formed in 1917 was part of the movement of rural woman’s institutes that started in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada in 1897. The first SWRI meeting in Scotland look place at Longniddery in East Lothian, creating the chance for rural women to meet and share their skills with one another. Locally there were three branches of the SWRI :- Dores & Scaniport , Foyers and Stratherrick . The Peoples Journal a weekly newspaper long since defunct, used to have page dedicated to reports of the Highland regions, local WRI groups activities and events.
The Dores and Scaniport WRI was formed in 1938 and it ran from then through the Second World War years till 1948. It ceased for a period then reformed in 1954 and lasted as a group until it finally folded in 199 . They held their monthly meetings in Dores Hall, as well as guest speakers/ demonstrations at the meeting they would have a competition involving either craft or culinary delights. Dores & Scaniport WRI were particularly active in producing plays, some self written and also concerts . The Group with less than 30 members gave a concert in aid of R.N.L.I. and WRI Help Ourselves Appeal including performing a play the Mistress of Shuma, written by their Hon president Kathleen Macpherson and produced by Jessie Jappy. Also featured in the evenings entertainment was a “Highland Minstrel Show “produced by Barbara Hiddleston. They entered WRI Drama competitions, their play Beggar my Neighbour won the Drama Final at Kirkhill . At the Inverness-shire group rally of 15 institutes held in Kiltarlity, the Dores & Scaniport WRI scored a great success with their hilarious skit on the Miss World Competition. The Dores & Scaniport WRI also won a baking National Competition at Dunoon with their Easter Tea display.
The Foyers WRI was formed around 1929 with Mrs Skelton its first President, going by their fiftieth anniversary party which was held in Foyers Church Hall in October 1979. Their meetings were held in the Foyers Church Hall . Sadie Hipkins was President of the W.R.I. for 20 years. One of their founding members Maimie Gibson was there to cut the fiftieth anniversary celebration cake at Foyers Church Hall.
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The Stratherrick WRI was formed around the Fifties and continued till the mid Eighties as far as known . Their meetings were held in the Gorthleck Hall . Unfortunately no photos to date have appeared of the group , but the two items, one an entry in the Peoples Journal and a program of their 1979-80 events . Will give an indication of their activities during the year.
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We had hoped to have a more comprehensive insight into the WRI branches in our area but due to COVID and lack of reference libraries being open , getting information from newspapers ect is not available . Perhaps when this pandemic is over, someone will write a more comprehensive story on the WRI in our area. If you recognise anyone in the pictures that is named wrongly or are able to identify unknown persons please get in touch with the group. Also if you have any picture associated with the WRI’s in our area please get in touch . Thanks to Moira McCallum , Jessie Jappy, May and Kenny Ross , Murial and Maureen Macdonald, Isabell Allen and Rio Macnaughton for putting names to pictures.