19 June 1998

Farm Womens Club celebrates first 50 years…

FARMERS WEEKLYs Farm Womens Club

is 50. Jean Howells looks back at its

origins, reports on the anniversary

celebrations and looks to the future

ON JUNE 4, 1948 the launch of the Farm Womens Club was announced in the Home Section of farmers weekly.

"A club of and for countrywomen," is how founder and Home Section editor Mary Day described it. In the early part of that year a writing competition had taken place in which female readers were invited to write a letter on the theme "This is my life". Hundreds of letters had arrived and the Home Section staff had a difficult task sorting through the entries and eventually narrowing them down to 700 which were then divided into county groups.

There were vivid contrasts between the letters from women of all ages and backgrounds. Eventually 400 were invited to be founder members of the Farm Womens Club, although it was stated that: "We want every reader of the Home Section to feel that this club, however it may develop and whether it succeeds or fails and whatever its activities, is in essence hers if she is interested in it."

When the club was three years old a party was held and Frances Paterson, who had taken responsibility for the club, and Mary Day attended. This was probably the first of many events providing just warm hearted, honest-to-goodness friendship. At this first meeting much discussion took place as to whether the club should be extended and whether more readers should be invited to join. In those early days they werent sure whether people would find what they wanted in the club or whether it would just fizzle out.

The answers came in with quite astonishing unanimity, almost everybody felt a warm affection for the club which had quietly built itself up over the previous three years. A further letter discussion and competition was held and more members joined.

&#42 Survived and thriving

Well, here we are 50 years on, the club has survived and is thriving. Many of the suggestions that were made in those early days are a part of club life – such as holiday exchanges, and exchanges of domestic experiences which are still going strong through the pages of the Farm Womens Club quarterly magazine.

Membership exceeds 3000 now and almost all members are associated with one of the 61 FWC groups which meet in homes or halls, go on outings and share meals. Each of the groups is autonomous, but belonging to the national organisation means that members are free to take part in the activities of any of the groups if they choose, and if the group can accommodate them.

Friendship is the essence of this club which is open to all female readers of farmers weekly. If you would like to join contact the national organiser, Jean Howells.

WRITE ABOUT THE FUTURE

In honour of FWCs jubilee we are running a writing

competition for members. While founder members were invited to write about the lives that they lived, we are

inviting todays members to look into the future and

to write about what their lives will be like 25 years from now.

To enter, imagine it is the year 2023 and write about

your life, or the lives of farm women in general

and/or the Farm Womens Club. The maximum

length for entries is 400 words.

The prize we are offering is £50 for the best entry.

This will be published in farmers weekly and we shall pay £25 for any runner-up entries that we publish. Address your entries to FWC Jubilee Contest, farmers weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS

to arrive by Mon, Aug 3, 1998.