The Countess of Wessex shared a never before seen portrait in a touching letter she wrote to members of the Women's Institute. Sophie was due to attend and speak at the Women’s Institute Annual Meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in June, but this has since been cancelled due to COVID-19. That hasn't stopped the royal from paying tribute to the efforts of WI members, who are doing some remarkable things to support their communities during the coronavirus outbreak. Across the UK, Women’s Institutes have been sewing scrub bags for frontline healthcare workers, knitting hearts for ICU patients, delivering book parcels to local people self-isolating, and helping prepare meals for vulnerable people in the community.
The Countess of Wessex, the Queen and Princess Anne attend Women's Institue meeting in 2015
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In the letter, published in the May issue of WI Life, the national magazine of the WI, Sophie penned: "The last time I attended the WI AGM was when I accompanied Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Princess Royal to the Centenary meeting at The Royal Albert Hall in 2015. It was a wonderful celebration of one of our most treasured societies and I remember fondly that cake moment at the end!
"So with these happy memories, it is hugely disappointing not to be able to join you all at this year's AGM, however, I am delighted to be offering these few words. The current situation the nation is enduring is affecting everyone in so many ways. WI members are meeting these new challenges head on, finding new channels of maintaining connections with members through technology, as well as creating opportunities to help your communities."
The Countess of Wessex shared a never before seen portrait in her letter to members of the Women's Institute
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She continued: "Whether it be swapping recipes, shopping for the elderly or alleviating loneliness, I have heard wonderful stories of acts of kindness and morale-boosting activities. For example: The Ridwares WI, Staffordshire Federation delivered 50 bunches of daffodils to self-isolating vulnerable people. SeaGirls, WI Cornwall Federation have been working with Chef Paul Ainsworth to deliver over 50 free meals.
"Members have also been answering the call of the NHS Voluntary Service to help deliver food or medication, move equipment and be on hand for additional assistance - of course this did not come as a surprise; it’s in the WI DNA to help those in need and be active and strong in crisis. Our country is so lucky to have an organisation such as the WI, which at a time like this proves its worth in countless ways. Just as the WI played its part in the war effort in the 1940s, I know that in the weeks and months ahead you will make a remarkable contribution to the home effort."
Sophie concluded: "Thank you all for stepping up and showing yet again that our women are the heart and soul of this beautiful country. I’m immensely proud of the WI; for your creativity, generosity and tenacity and I know you will continue to meet this challenge with hope and community."
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