Hello from Wisbech!

Hello from Wisbech!

Newcomer Marian Stokes started her recruitment drive for the National Housewives Register by knocking on doors round the village in the Cambridgeshire fens she'd moved to from Greater Manchester. It was 1976.

Today Marian remains a keen and active member of the Wisbech NWR group she founded back then – and of both its offshoot book discussion groups. (The image shows founder member Marian Stokes and Marie O'Flaherty in glad rags at our 90th birthday party for the Queen.)

She said: 'I'd belonged to the then-NHR in Saddleworth, and was keen to promote the advantages of being a member. I can't believe how much energy and enthusiasm I had.'

Rosy Elliott (who celebrated her retirement three years ago with an NWR group visit to the town's historic Elgoods Brewery) said: 'I'd just had my first baby in 1976 and was struggling with being homebound when this stranger - Marian - knocked at the door.

'NHR was an intellectually stimulating lifesaver where I met wonderful friends. When I rejoined not long before I retired, some familiar faces were still around but I've also met many lovely new ones. I hope it carries on for another 42 years!'

In the past few years the Wisbech group has had a go at rolling and eating sushi, painting Chinese style, potato-printing and making cheese; watched Victoria Wood as diarist Nella Last after taking part in an NWR appeal for May 12 journal entries on Mass Observation's 80th anniversary; had talks from a ballet costumier, metal detectorists' club, local family history expert, cat behaviourist; made dishes for any number of pot-luck meals served indoors and out, and had passionate discussions – yet miraculously avoided ever falling out with each other.

Comparatively new member, Jill Clayton, still wonders at this. She said: 'My main memory on joining was of being made so welcome.This was so different from organisations where you were scrutinised to see if your face fit, if you wore the right clothes or went to the right places on holiday. Some members have been in the group from the beginning. We must be doing something right!'

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