THE WI celebrated its 90th birthday in 2005 and The Mail went to Barrow WI’s monthly meeting at Trinity Church Hall to find out more about the organisation.

It reported that china cups and saucers were neatly arranged next to a fine selection of jam sponges dusted with icing sugar.

Retired ladies made up the core membership of the group.

But while they were not averse to supping cups of tea and demonstrating crafts, they were equally happy campaigning on subjects as diverse as domestic violence and the plight of farmers.

Martina Teijlingen-Bell had joined the WI in Barrow 10 years previously, a month after the local branch started up.

“As a WI we’re still relatively new, compared to others which have been going 90 years,” she said.

“We have more than 40 members now.”

Pauline Marshall had joined the WI in Kentmere around 20 years previously and was a founder member of Barrow WI.

“I had an invitation in the post recently and Kentmere were having a party so they found me and invited me.

"I was so touched,” she said.

President of Rampside WI Irene Liversedge joined the WI when she retired.

“You could literally live daily through the WI because there’s always something going on,” she said.

There were 300 women in Furness who belonged to a WI group in 2005.

Cumbria Westmorland WI advisor Gillian Price explained: “The WI never has been and never will be just about Jam and Jerusalem.

"We're very proud to be celebrating 90 years of the WI in England and Wales this year. We're also proud to be celebrating 85 years of the WI in Cumbria-Westmorland.

"Our three-year Community Challenge project saw WI members up and down the country actively respond to their communities' needs.

"Over 16,000 projects were registered from the establishment of First Responders, to litter picks, to raising money for local hospices, to running community shops and post offices."