A new Women’s Institute branch has opened in Aberystwyth.

The ‘Ystwyth Belles’ branch of the WI is based in the Morlan Centre on Queen’s Road.

The group held its first meeting, which served as a chance for people to get to know each other on Monday, 13 November.

Seventeen women joined the branch at the meeting and Janet Rowan, a leading member in establishing the new branch, was chosen as its president.

Despite having only met as a group twice, the Ystwyth Belles ‘got ahead of the game’ by drafting a provisional programme of activities and events throughout the upcoming year, leading up to November 2024.

Janet said: “We’re all very enthusiastic and we wanted to get ahead of the game. We’ve got lots of new ideas and plenty of enthusiasm. We’re looking for as many locals to sign up and take part in the branch.”

Janet has been an active member of the WI for many years. When she moved to Aberystwyth she joined a local group, which was crucial in helping her meet local people, and get through the pandemic and isolation of lockdown.

“I joined a local WI branch when I moved to the area about three and a half years ago," she said. "It was very important for me at the time, especially when lockdown hit and we suffered that shock to the system.

“The WI is about community, and getting involved in the community. It’s also about making great friends and having a voice together.”

The newly formed WI in Aberystwyth (Supplied)

Trustee of the WI Ceredigion Federation and WI advisor Ann Perkins played a part in opening Aberystwyth’s newest branch.

She said: “It’s exciting to see a new branch of the WI form in Ceredigion. It’s the only branch in the middle of Aberystwyth and they’re a really good team there. I think it will go from strength to strength.

“The WI is a very thriving organisation, with 180,000 members across the UK. Ceredigion has 38 branches in places throughout the county.

“I remember when I joined the WI about 18 years ago, a woman I knew told me to come along. But it had an image; I wasn’t a crafter, I don’t make and I don’t bake. I couldn’t see what joining it would give me, but I went along eventually and I haven’t looked back.

“It’s a great place for friendship, for fun, and exploring things you’ve never thought about exploring before. There’s lots of opportunities to learn and get involved with the local community, and things that bother you - your school, your hospital and so on.”