Mollie Earle, who is 99 year old, will open the Ningwood and Shalfleet Women’s Institute Exhibition in Shalfleet Village Hall. Mollie is the oldest member of the Institute, and Deputy Lord Lieutenant Peter Kingston and other guests will be attending the event at 10am tomorrow (Sat).
Ningwood and Shalfleet WI were the first Women’s Institute to be formed on the Isle of Wight, on May 19, 1919, and has been meeting regularly ever since.
The exhibition will display items associated with the Institute and the local area and will attempt to show how the lives of women have been transformed over the century of its existence. The ensign of the ship, Visenda, will also be on display. The ensign was given to Ningwood.and Shalfleet WI when the trawler was decommissioned after WWII, in recognition of the support byway of warm clothing made by the ladies or the sailors.
Molly was born in Rhodesia in 1920 and came to the UK at the age of three after the death of her mother. In 1937, she joined the women’s section of the army, where she met her husband Stan. During the Second World War, Stan served in the North African campaign and in Italy with the Hampshire Yeomanry, before working as a foreman in Fords after hostilities had ended.
Molly gave birth to four sons in alphabetical order, Adrian, Brian, Carl and Danny, as well as taking care of a nephew. Three of her sons served in separate branches of the armed force: the army, navy and air force. She has eight grandchildren, but was unable to recall the exact number of her great-grandchildren, saying “I daren’t think”.
Molly spent her war years in Barnham near Bognor Regis, close to Tangmere airfield, which was frequently bombed during the Battle of Britain. She said that, at that time, there was no air raid shelter in her village.
Molly moved to Shalfleet in 1980 after she retired as a nurse. She joined the Women’s Institute after the death of her husband. She describes the Isle of Wight as a lovely place, but says it’s changing, as everywhere does, and that it’s noisier than it was in the past. She also claims the pace of life now is far quicker than in former times.