A WOMEN’s group that has played a hugely significant part in shaping a village near Stourport has celebrated a significant birthday this month.

Areley Kings WI marked the 90th anniversary since it was set up by hosting a special luncheon at the Village Hall which allowed them to look back at their work over the decades as well as ahead at their future projects.

As the landmark coincided with the Queen’s 90th birthday this year, they invited former chief petty officer of the Royal Yacht Britannia David Rushforth as guest speaker.

The link to the Queen continued with a thank you letter they received from one of the ladies in waiting for a hand-painted card they sent for Her Majesty’s birthday.

The luncheon was also a poignant occasion for 93-year-old member and arts group leader Margaret Shaddock, whose mother was a founding member of Areley Kings WI back in the 1920s.

It also enabled the group to celebrate their recent achievements at the Worcester Show earlier this year, where members won a host of trophies and awards for craft and cookery.

Carla Walters won ‘Best in Show’ with her sugar craft creation of a WI-themed chess board with the pieces representing aspects of the group.

President Patsy Anderson said: “It has been wonderful celebrating 90 years of the WI in Areley Kings.

“Our work in the village has been continuous. From the moment Areley Kings WI was set up, there have been great campaigns that have made such a difference.

“Many years ago, members successfully campaigned for electricity and a better sewage system in the village - previously it had been carried out by cart!

“The WI also did a huge amount of work during the Second World War, making up parcels of produce and essentials to be sent abroad to support the effort. We have a letter from the Queen of Holland thanking this group for what they did.

“Areley Kings WI also looked after refugee children who were sent here during the war.

“We also supported the old village hall, paying for a new toilet to be installed and funding new stage curtains. Our jazz band also performed there many times and we continue to back the new hall.

“Throughout the years, the group has been a constant benefactor to the village. And we still raise money for charity including the Friends of Kidderminster Hospital, Acorns in Worcester and the WI Denman College in Oxfordshire.”

She added that the 90th birthday will be marked further at their annual lunch, to be held at the Mercure Hotel in Bewdley, in the New Year, while daffodil bulbs planted outside the hall will flower in the coming months.

She said: “After 90 years, we are still going strong. We are a vibrant and friendly group and always welcome new members.”