Sunday, 1 March 2015

Cornish Women support 100 years of the WI in Camborne

Past Grand Bard Ann Trevenen Jenkin meets the WI baton at Camborne Thursday 19 February 2015 accompanied by her daughter Mebyon Kernow PPC Loveday Jenkin

Ann Trevenen Jenkin spoke to the assembled audience - praising the resilience of Cornish women.

Gorthugher da, benenes a Gernow, ha wolkom dh' onen hag oll.  Good evening, women of Cornwall, and welcome to One and All.
Da yu genev dhe vos omma, avel kens Barth Meur hag ynwedh avel ysel Fondyans Benenes yn Kernow rak lyes bledhen.  I am pleased to be here as former Grand Bard of Gorsedh Kernow and a WI member in Cornwall since the early sixties.
Cornwall is a very special place, and Camborne Redruth has particular fond memories for me as I grew up in Redruth and lived there from the 1930s to the fifties. The area is full of history, especially the history of mining and emigration, and it is dominated by the Bassett Memorial on Carn Brea to Cornish miners.  History is full of stories of tough and resilient Cornish women who stayed at home to bring up their children and to run their local towns and villages, worked hard in two World Wars to help the war effort, for example at Holmans in Camborne, or who emigrated with their families to isolated mining communities at the ends of the earth.
In the early years of the twentieth century (1915) the NFWI was formed and then various Women's Institutes in Cornwall.  My Institute, Leedstown, was set up 95 years ago and many others were established at about the same time. This 'club', for that was what it was, empowered women to take control of their own destinies.  It was a Godsend to isolated villages and towns, with its specific aim of educating and informing local women so that they could reach their full potential. This was before television, before telephone contacts, before many cars, when the community was the centre of village and town life.
I can remember my first meeting in the 1960s, when my village was still cut off in many ways.  We walked down the road to the old building which had paraffin lamps and an open coal fire.  The road was dark with no street lights, the old chapel, our meeting place, cut off from the village by about half a mile, but the warmth of the welcome was impressive.  The coal fire often smoked, and coming home we linked arms to walk up the dark road; but it was fun, and I learnt so much about the local history and my community through those early WI meetings.

I was asked to speak today as the first Woman Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd/Gorsedh Kernow, a special honour as up till this year our sister Celtic Gorsedhau of Wales and Brittany did not have women leaders. One of the first groups to welcome me in 1997, was the Cornwall Federation of WIs, where I was greeted as a leader for women, just like many of you in your own WIs. I am pleased to be here today to reinforce the message that women can and often do lead the world!   My travels to Cornish communities overseas have strengthened those views. We can do anything!
I'd also like to thank the CFWI for putting me in touch with a WI copper worker from North Cornwall who skilfully designed my plastron for me, so there is a piece of WI history associated even now with Gorsedh Kernow.
I am pleased therefore to speak on your behalf, both as a WI member and a leader of one of the most important Cornish societies, celebrating the diversity of our special Cornish language, history and culture.
In our own special and beautiful Cornish language, I will now welcome the NFWI baton to Camborne, Cornwall, and hope that the WI will go from strength to strength in its support and encouragement of women in Britain.  We remember our past, celebrate our present and look forward to a great future for women in the community in the 21st.Century, both in Cornwall and the wider world.
Dynnargh dhe Leuvwelen an Keffrysyans Kenedhlek Fondyansow Benenes, arwodh an krevder ha determyans a venenes yn Breten. Ni a govhe agan istori, golya an jydh hedhyw ha gwaytya termyn a dheu marthys rag benenes y'n gemeneth y'n kynsa kansvledhen warn ugens, hag yn Kernow hag y'n bys efanna.
Cornwall for Ever! Kernow bys vykken!

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