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Ruby's 70 years as WI stalwart

PUBLISHED: 09:47 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:49 13 July 2010

Ruby Fisher has never forgotten the rousing rendition of Jerusalem, the famous hymn with words by William Blake, that marked her first day as a member of the Cromer Women's Institute.

Ruby Fisher has never forgotten the rousing rendition of Jerusalem, the famous hymn with words by William Blake, that marked her first day as a member of the Cromer Women's Institute.

That was 70 years ago when Neville Chamberlain was prime minister, Edward VIII had recently abdicated over the Mrs Simpson affair and the horrors of the second world war were yet to unfold.

At a special meeting where Mrs Fisher's service to the institution was celebrated, the anthem again rang out over north Norfolk's green and pleasant land.

On the eve of her 95th Birthday, the Women's Institute stalwart was honoured with a certificate celebrating her dedication to the organisation.

A born and bred north Norfolk girl, Mrs Fisher was a founding member of the Cromer WI in 1937 when there were just 12 members.

She went on to set up the Antingham and District WI in 1955, becoming president in 1965 and remaining so for 23 years.

Growing up she knew many historical Cromer characters including lifeboat man Henry Blogg who served with her grandfather.

She said: “I used to go down to the pier with my grandmother and take blankets and a flask of hot cocoa. I knew all the fishermen.”

She has shared her extraordinary history with the Aldborough WI, giving talks entitled Reminiscing and Reminiscing Part II.

Being centre stage has never fazed Mrs Fisher and another fond memory of the past 70 years was the drama group where she acted in Mirror to Elizabeth at Gunton Hall. She remembers with excitement meeting wartime actress Dame Sybil Thorndike.

She also recalls a WI trip to the House of Commons where she watched the last ever prime minister's question time with the then Tory leader Margaret Thatcher.

Aside from her more glamorous memories of her time in the WI, Mrs Fisher enjoys the 'jam and Jerusalem' side of the organisation.

She fondly remembers wartime jam-making, gathering the blackberries and putting the jam into jars.

She married dairy farmer John Fisher in 1940 and lived in Gunton Park throughout her married life.

The Aldborough Women's Institute is celebrating its 90th year and is having an archives day on October 4.

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