The Daily Telegraph

‘If England fans can sing, why can’t we?’

- Jennifer Harperjone­s, president of Hedgerley’s Women’s Institute As told to Rosa Silverman

The Women’s Institute has been an important part of my life for decades – and for dozens of others around our small Buckingham­shire community. Our 38 members are all over 70, and some are in their 90s. Quite a few of them are widows.

But deprived of our monthly meetings, we have lost a key social lifeline and, in some cases, have been left very lonely.

Hedgerley has played its part and followed the rules.

We couldn’t wait to finally gather for our first meeting in 16 months, which was scheduled a long time ago for a week on Thursday – June 24. But with lockdown extended again, we have had to postpone once more.

My bitter disappoint­ment has been joined by a sense of anger and injustice when I saw England football fans hugging, shouting and singing together at the weekend. The congregati­on are not allowed to sing in our church, even in a socially distanced fashion. It feels as if the rules are different for some people.

Unlike the younger football fans, everyone in the Hedgerley WI are all doubly vaccinated. We want to live again, but we seem to have been forgotten.

A third of our members don’t have computers, so moving their social life online simply hasn’t been possible. They need to meet others in person.

Last year’s longplanne­d centenary celebratio­ns of the Bucks Federation were cancelled. Reschedule­d for July 6, we had booked a coach to take us to Waddesdon Manor – but this can now not go ahead either.

The weather is too unreliable for us to plan outdoor meetings, but we’re as safe indoors now as we’re ever going to be. We’ve waited long enough. Our isolated, elderly members need face-to-face WI meetings back in their lives again.

 ??  ?? Football rules: fans, top, are treated differentl­y
Football rules: fans, top, are treated differentl­y

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