The soar­ing Sea­gals

Su­san Stephen­son met the soar­away Sea­gals and their modern ver­sion of a Women’s In­sti­tute

The Scarborough News - - WELCOME TO YOUR NEWS - By Su­san Stephen­son su­san.stephen­son@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter @SStephen­sonSN

Meet the Scar­bor­ough Sea­gals, a modern WI group that is boom­ing and en­joy­ing vis­its and tours with­out any jam.

T he very fact that I was meet­ing the Sea­Gals at Scar­bor­ough Art Gallery led me to be­lieve that this was go­ing to be different to a tra­di­tional, stereo­typ­i­cal WI meet­ing.

We were be­ing given a ‘be­hind the scenes’ tour by Julie Bax­ter, the gallery’s venues and vol­un­teer man­ager, ti­tled ‘Cos­tume in Art’.

The group usu­ally meets at the Stephen Joseph The­atre on the sec­ond Mon­day of ev­ery month, but out­ings and spe­cial events are a fre­quent part of be­ing a ‘Sea­gal’.

It was a busy night, with around 30 mem­bers present and group busi­ness to see to fol­low­ing the in­ter­est­ing hour-long tour, and it gave a real in­sight into life as a modern WI mem­ber.

Many were keen to speak to me about their ex­pe­ri­ences, in­clud­ing 35-year-old Laura Brown, who has been a mem­ber since the Sea­gals started up a year ago.

She said: “One of my friends told me about it – and my mother-in-law is re­ally into the WI. I’m keen on crafts, jew­ellery mak­ing and bak­ing, and I thought it would be a good way to meet peo­ple. It’s different to how tra­di­tional WIs are viewed. Ev­ery­one pic­tures them in church halls!

“But we have mem­bers of all different ages and we have lots of events and trips to different places. We’ve been fos­sil hunt­ing at Cayabout.” ton Bay, to a carol con­cert at Am­ple­forth and on a trip to Leeds Ar­mouries.

“I re­ally en­joy it – I would en­cour­age ev­ery­one to come and give it a go. Ev­ery­one is re­ally friendly and you meet mem­bers from other groups.

“I would def­i­nitely see the Sea­gals as a modern WI group. They are for­ward­think­ing and are bring­ing it to a younger age group.”

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Ann Beau­mont, 67, a re­tired pal­lia­tive care nurse, says that lots more is in the pipe­line, such as a craft group, the­atre group and book club.

The group al­ready or­gan­ises a cof­fee meet ev­ery Mon­day morn­ing and a walk ev­ery Thurs­day. Ann, of Ten- nyson Av­enue, said: “Peo­ple can fo­cus on their par­tic­u­lar in­ter­ests. We ask peo­ple to put their ideas for­ward – any­thing from tai chi to bel­ly­danc­ing!

“I do a lot of craft­ing and it’s been nice to meet like­minded peo­ple. We’re now in the process of mak­ing items to sell to raise group funds.”

Ann added: “We want this to be for every­body – for no­body to be ex­cluded. It’s not jam and Jerusalem any more!

“It’s about women meet­ing up and hav­ing a nat­ter. I think it’s been good for Scar­bor­ough. We’re a very friendly group – do come along and see what we’re Gar­dener and lum­ber­jill Maria Arnold, 54, of Ramshill, has been a mem­ber since the group started and got her love of the WI from her grand­mother.

She ex­plained: “I wanted to be in the WI since I was about eight years old. My grand­mother was sec­re­tary and chair of a group in Lon­don and she would come back with amaz­ing sto­ries of what they did and where they would go.

“She was an ac­tive mem­ber and used to take me on trips. There are still lots of trips, but things have moved on from home bak­ing and jams.

“There’s some­thing for every­body and I think there’s a less for­mal feel now, it’s more re­laxed.

“I love it – it’s lovely to come some­where where you can do an ac­tiv­ity in the even­ing and it’s all or­gan­ised for you.

“The ladies are lovely and ev­ery­one is so re­cep­tive and open to new things.” Group pres­i­dent Sue Wright is look­ing to wel­come new mem­bers, as for the first time in a year the group doesn’t have a wait­ing list.

Sue said: “We try to do some­thing different ev­ery time, whether is cho­co­late mak­ing, talks on a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject or jew­ellery mak­ing.

“We’ve got 40 mem­bers at the mo­ment, of all ages – there are no re­stric­tions. Come along and meet us!”

The Sea­gals WI group meets on the sec­ond Mon­day of the month (no meet­ing in Au­gust) from 7pm to 9pm, usu­ally at the Stephen Joseph The­atre.

Go to www.scar­bor­ough­sea­gal­swi.org.uk, email scar­bor­ough.sea.gals.wi@gmail. com or search for Scar­bor­ough Sea­gals on Face­book. Mem­ber­ship fees ap­ply.

‘ They are for­ward­think­ing and are bring­ing it to a younger age group.’

Sue Wright, Maria Arnold, Ann Beau­mont and Laura Brown en­joy their mem­ber­ship.

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