A new Women’s Institute (WI) group launched in Tonbridge in April 2015. You can read more below about how the group was started.


Why the WI?

We are two thirty-something women (see below) who love living in Tonbridge and wanted to find more ways to contribute to the community. We had already met some great women – of all ages and backgrounds – in the time we’d lived here, and we knew there would be many more of you out there.

The Women’s Institute (WI) is the largest voluntary organisation for women in the UK. Some people think the WI is just about knitting, jam and Jerusalem – but that’s not true (although we haven't ruled that out!). Each branch of the WI is different, and the federation encourages members to make it what they want it to be. We thought there was an opportunity in South Tonbridge for a group that could be:

  • Inclusive and welcoming – for women of all ages and backgrounds who are also able to get involved as much as they want to (but no one should feel pressured)
  • Social – a place to make friends locally and get support, and extend friendships beyond the WI
  • Inspiring – be introduced to subjects that everyone wants to know about, whether they even realised beforehand or not!

For more information about different kinds of WI groups, click here to read The WI Guide: Who we are and what we stand for.

Our Launch

In April 2015, we took our first steps to get together and form the group. We called for interested women to join us at a launch meeting with the local federation on 28 April. We used Twitter, Facebook, our website and the local paper to reach as many women as possible - and in three weeks we had over 1800 unique visitors to our website.

On the night of our launch meeting, it became clear that there was an enormous demand for a group like this in the local area - for women of all ages and backgrounds to meet up, make friends and learn new skills. In a hall with a capacity of 60, almost 150 gathered to show their support - it was a little warm and a little crowded (!) but we thank the wonderful women who bore with us to mark the birth of a brand new WI group for South Tonbridge. We were also thrilled to elect Becky Lamb as our first President, and also our committee who bravely volunteered for the task!

After all the excitement of the launch, our committee had a tough decision to make about how big our group could be. After looking long and hard all over Tonbridge for a larger, available and affordable venue that met our needs, the biggest we could find would not hold everyone who has expressed an interest so far.

So, for the time being, we have decided to cap membership at 120 people, which we reached at the 12 May membership meeting and are now full. We hope to open this up again soon. If you are interested in joining the waiting list in the meantime, please Contact Us.