The tea's off, ladies: Pole dancing takes centre stage at Women's Institute

“I’ve never been to a WI meeting before but I’ll definitely consider coming back now"

Singing Jerusalem, eating Victoria sandwiches and sewing cushion covers are traditional activities meant for a meeting of the Women's Institute.

But for a branch in Northamptonshire, members have ditched tradition in favour of pole dancing.

Saucy moves are being taught to WI members in Little Stanion, in a bid to modernise the conservative organisation and draw new, younger women.

The newly formed group - with members in their 40s and 50s - held its first meeting on Tuesday where the unusual activity was put to the test.

Queen Elizabeth II looks at a stall produced by the Women's Institute in 1965, for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition …

Mum-of-two, Sinnead O'Donnell instructed the class and showed off her talent for the flexible sport.

The 24 year old said: “Pole dancing is a great laugh and a fantastic way to get into shape and keep fit.

“I took it up after I had my second child and I taught pole dancing for a year.

"It’s lost its seedy image now and is just a great way to build up body strength, have fun and meet new friends.

"People can either go to classes, or buy their own pole and do it at home. It’s brilliant. It’s physically and mentally challenging and women of any age can enjoy it.”

Newcomer Karen Attrill, 53, loved the opportunity to try something different.

She said: “I’ve never been to a WI meeting before but I’ll definitely consider coming back now."

After demonstrating a few moves on the pole at the meeting at Little Stanion Primary School, flexible Sinnead then invited WI members to have a go at their own routine - fully clothed.

Irene Screen, 33, said: “It was the pole dancing that brought me here. I wanted to find out more about it and I really enjoyed the evening.”
Calendar Girls Poster
President of the branch Rachel MacAllister, 28, said: “It’s not all jam and Jerusalem, the reality is different.

"We’re planning to set up a book club and to hold pamper evenings and wine-tasting sessions, as well as the more traditional activities.”

Pole dancing isn't the Women's Institute first foray in risque activities.

The WI made international headlines when their middle-aged members posed for a nude calendar. Their exploits were immortalised on stage and on screen.

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