Kilrea Women’s Institute take to Zoom

Under normal circumstances, the ladies of Kilrea WI would have celebrated their 84th birthday dinner in March, but that celebration has been put on hold.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 2:47 pm

Instead, the ladies were delighted to welcome a number of WI members from other Lower Bann Institutes, Mrs Helen Jamieson, Executive member, and guest speaker Dr Heather Richardson to a Zoom meeting which more than 40 ladies attended.

Dr Heather Richardson is a lecturer in Creative Writing with the Open University and has written several short stories and novels. She undertook a creative non-fiction project using text and textiles entitled ‘A Dress for Kathleen’.

Heather spoke fondly of her father’s family which lived outside Kilrea. Her aunt Kathleen Hutchinson, aged 14, worked in the office of Clarke’s Linen Mill in Upperlands, which produced vast quantities of blackout material during World War 2. On her way home late at night in December 1939, Kathleen had a fatal accident on her bicycle.

Heather decided to capture a sense of Kathleen’s life and portray her full of hope as a young woman, and so she created a dress made from fabric from Clarke’s Mill, and a pattern from that era. She appliquéd silk squares with imagined words from Kathleen’s school days, memories of her family, and observations of the world around her. It also has a hand stitched map of her journey from Kilrea to Upperlands. The whole project took two years to complete. Heather’s story captivated the audience of WI ladies and everyone agreed it was a very fitting tribute to her aunt. A question-and-answer session took place. Liz Barry gave a very comprehensive vote of thanks.

President Ann Laughlin congratulated two new grannies in the Institute: Jean McKay has a new grandson Thomas, and Sandra Taylor has a little granddaughter Rosie.

Ann thanked everyone for attending and hoped it would not be too long before WI ladies in the Lower Bann Area would be able to meet up in person.