Founder of the Women's Institute Subject of Talk

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A Canadian academic will deliver a special talk in Pershore next week on the founder of the Women’s Institute, in celebration of the Institute’s centenary.

Linda Ambrose, Professor of History at Laurentian University, Ontario, will speak at St Andrew’s Church Centre on May 22 from 4pm to 6pm.

Margaret Robertson Watt MBE (1868-1948), known as 'Madge', was a Scottish-Canadian philanthropist. She was a person of great energy and drive who believed strongly in the power of women working together for worthwhile goals. In 1915, she left her unhappy personal situation in Canada and came to Britain where she helped to set up the Women’s Institute Movement in rural areas.

On the 1 March 1916, Mrs Watt attended a large public meeting held at the Shirehall in Worcester and chaired by Lord Coventry of Croome Court. The meeting’s aim was to encourage greater employment of women on the land. Later that year Mrs Watt spoke at a meeting in Pershore which set up one of the first Women’s Institutes in Worcestershire. She praised the 840 women who had volunteered for work on the land and explained that Women’s Institutes were to: ‘study domestic economy, provide a centre for educational and social intercourse, encourage home and local industry, develop co-operative enterprises and stimulate interest in the agricultural industry.’

Professor Ambrose has just completed a biography of Mrs Watt and has published several articles on rural women's organisations and related topics.

The event is free, although, booking is advisable. Please email Jenni Waugh at to reserve your place.

This event is part of World War One in the Vale community research project, which is supported by the University of Worcester. Visit for further details.