Jen’s Hats

Every year Hebden Bridge WI offers a £500 bursary to our members to be spent on educational courses. This is funded by our bi-annual Rag Market and allows members to take a course that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

We have very few restrictions on what sort of courses we’ll fund. As long as it can be justified as educational we don’t care if you go and hang upside down from the ceiling because you’re learning circus skills. Actually, we’d absolutely love it if someone studied circus skills with one of our bursaries!

We don’t judge worthiness or compare applications; we simply draw names from a hat until the whole £500 has been allocated.

Usually the £500 is split between two or more people. This year’s bursary winners are Sue Leslie, who is taking a beachcombing art course down in Brighton in March and Jen Kaines who has recently completed an advanced millinery course in Leeds. Jen’s report on her experience and pictures of her modelling her lovely hats are below.

Jen writes…

I have been a member of HBWI since it started and have really enjoyed meeting new people, learning new things and, of course drinking tea and eating cake. The adage that you get out what you put in is only too true I have found. I have tried to get involved in WI activities as much as work and other commitments allow, organising the book group, helping at the fabulous Rag Markets, baking, making and leading small craft activities for Christmas and I’ve really enjoyed it.

HBWI offers a bursary open to all members for any type of educational course. This year I applied and was shocked and very pleased to be awarded a bursary.

I have always loved hats, ever since I was little, along with making things and fabrics in general. It made sense when I found out that Leeds College of Art and Design ran millinery night classes to start to learn. I had been going along for a few years, learning all I could but needed a bit of a push to have the confidence to take things further.

An unusual felted shape

The bursary allowed me to take the Advanced Millinery course to not only move millinery and design skills forward but as part of the course I exhibited my hats. This was the push I needed along with the support of friends from WI to improve my skills and to have the confidence to open an Etsy shop, start a Facebook page and take commissions.

A heart-shaped felt pillbox

It’s still early days, and I will probably never be able to give up the day job but I am enjoying it.

Join me on my hat making adventures at:

Aren’t her hats just gorgeous! What you can’t see from these photos is that she lines most of them in beautiful fabric, often unique vintage fabric sourced from our very own Rag Market.

Jen is not the only member to benefit from a bursary. Previous recipients have studied diverse subjects including how to run a B&B, jewellery making, advanced baking and papercrafts. Some women choose courses that will help them to develop professionally and a couple of women have even started small businesses after receiving a Hebden Bridge WI bursary. Others take a course simply for the joy of learning something new. Either is completely fine with us: we consider personal and creative development to be every bit as important as career development.

We award our bursaries in the summer of each year in time for the fresh crop of courses that always start in September and to be eligible you have to be a fully paid-up member of Hebden Bridge WI. Joining the WI costs £36 per year. Subs are due in January but if you’ve never joined the WI before, you can now join pro rata throughout the year.