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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

Keeping it in the Family

Mossley Women's Institute, part of the Cheshire Federation, now boasts three generations from the same family. My daughter has just joined and may well be the youngest member of the WI.

I originally joined the group only a few months ago and encouraged my mum to come along with me. After itching to get involved in the competitions and being interested to hear about the speakers we have, my daughter finally succumbed and joined this month. The only problem now is that we are competing against each other - it's a good job that the competitions are just for fun!

I've been asked to write about what made me join and then consequently what encouraged my mum and daughter to join. It's a tricky question and I'm not sure I can pinpoint my reasons exactly:

For years and years my friends have always joked saying that I'm destined for the @Women's Institute because I revelled in playing piano for OAP midweek luncheon groups and prayer meetings and I'd thoroughly enjoy a cup of tea and a chat afterwards. Incidentally, I always drink tea out of a cup and saucer - not a mug! Although I'm not a domestic goddess I nevertheless uphold the traditional values of home-made, home-cooked and home in general. Amongst my peers I was considered to be politely radical, in that I had twin boy and girl babies quickly followed by another son at a relatively young age and stayed at home to look after them whilst my husband finished his degree. It surprises me that my friends saw me in this way as I'm not at all the rebellious type but I broke the mould again by home educating my children and running a small business practise from home. This created a lack of observance in age barriers for my children - their best friends range from their own age group of twenty-somethings through to friends in their mid fifties.

Raising a family in a 'Cottage Industries' mentality as my husband and I worked from home cultivated a make-do-and-mend approach, and a thrill of creativity for all things home based in my daughter. She shares my love of music and also my love of home-making and home-baking. Although we are fortunate enough not to be living through war time rationing the economic climate for families and businesses is one of learning to 'cut ones cloth' and surely the skills endorsed within the WI were meant for such times as these. There's a wealth of life-skills and knowledge that would be of great benefit to myself and my daughter as she prepares to set up her own home one day.

What has struck me most forcibly since we've joined the Mossley WI is the kindness and generosity of the ladies. Some members are quite feeble, some are new and shy - but nobody is left out! Also, it's refreshing to see a well established group display a welcome for new ideas and approaches - no ingrained, stalwart rigidity here! During the first meeting I was welcomed onto the committee and my daughter has been instantly given access to our social media output. I invited my mum to come along to encourage her into new friends and interests now that she is retired from many years in business. It's so refreshing to see older women (and younger members too, of course) out there being busy and being interested in life. Too often these years of leisure are wasted in watching daytime TV and letting life pass you by. It's certainly true that I can't keep up with the social schedule that many of the ladies in my group maintain!

A slightly more abstract reason for joining Mossley WI was because I'm writing a series of Cosy Mysteries set in a village not unlike Mossley and the fictitious WI group there figure heavily in solving the mystery. Book 1 is already in the various publishing pipelines and Book 2 is being penned just now. I initially chose Mossley as my template purely because I travel there fairly regularly to buy my hen supplies from a large animal food store in the village, and when I discovered that a WI group met in Mossley there seemed to be a pleasant symmetry in choosing that one. I'm glad I did - and so are my mum and my daughter!