The Women’s Institute (WI) is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the U.K. with 220,000 members. Founded in 1915, the WI’s original purpose was to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then it has grown and evolved, offering courses in everything from cookery to car maintenance with the aim of connecting women in the community.
We love that the WI is an organisation that champions women and encourages them to achieve, whether that’s by attending a course, event organising, or just meeting for a cup of tea and a chat. Loneliness is endemic in modern society and we believe that anything offering a solution to this and creating opportunities for women to succeed plays an important role in our communities.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to feature a local woman who inspires us, and who better than the Chairman of the Gloucestershire WI, Jan Turner?

What motivated you to join the WI?
"I moved with my husband and two sons to Gloucestershire and spent so much of my time focussed solely on them. I realised I needed something for me and just up the road was the WI."
How does the WI help women in their local community?
"It offers friendship, support and a chance to influence local and national affairs."
What does a typical day involve for you?
"Impossible to say! Every day is different, which is what I love about my role."
What is your proudest moment with the WI?
"When I was in the Royal Albert Hall with other members of the Gloucestershire WI watching The Queen, Princess Anne and the Countess of Wessex cutting a cake to celebrate the centenary of the NFWI (National Federation of Women’s Institutes) and realising how much we had achieved."
What’s your favourite place in the Cotswolds?
"Cleeve Hill, the highest point in Gloucestershire, and its stunning views of the River Severn and surrounding countryside."
What’s your favourite breakfast?
"Grapefruit with Marmite on toast. On holiday, I treat myself to a Full English Breakfast."
Tea or coffee?
"It depends on the time of day. Tea and coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and coffee after dinner."
What do you look for in a luxury garment?
"I love the feel of fabrics and used to make most of my own clothes but it is harder to find good quality fabric nowadays."
As it is International Women’s Day, do you have any advice you can give our female readers?
"I don’t often give people advice… Join the WI!"
How can people join the WI?
"Visit the NFWI website and click on ‘Find a WI near you’ or telephone WI house in Gloucester on 01452 523966, who can help you find a WI in Gloucestershire. Any woman can join the WI, whether she is 18 or and 100 and however!"
Click here to find a WI near you >
Read more about International Women's Day here >
Discover more women who inspire us here >
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