Michael Portillo to visit Bedford WI

Flying Scotsman at Peterborough Station. On the train  Michael Portillo EMN-160225-170136009
Flying Scotsman at Peterborough Station. On the train Michael Portillo EMN-160225-170136009

Local WI members are chuffed to have a VIP guest this month - in the form of Great British Railway Journeys star Michael Portillo.

The former Cabinet minister turned broadcaster is visiting Bedford on March 14 to speak to 400 members of the Bedfordshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes.

“We’re really excited about it,” said federation trustee Elizabeth Cochrane. “We’re all fans of Mr Portillo’s show and we can’t wait to meet him.

“There’s even talk of holding a sweepstake on what colour jacket and trousers he will be wearing on the day!”.

Members from all 86 WIs in Bedfordshire have been invited to the event. Already it is a sellout with 400 places booked at £25 a ticket.

But none of the ladies will be making home-made cakes for the Right Honourable Mr Portillo to tuck into to.

“The event is being held at Kings house, where there is a refreshments area. So we will let them do the tea and cakes and hopefully make a bit of profit for themselves,” said Mrs Cochrane.

The Federation, which booked Anne Widdecombe as a speaker a few years ago, paid around £3,000 to book Mr Portillo, who will speak for an hour.

“We wanted to do something special for our members, and we also wanted to prove that the WI is not just about jam and Jerusalem,” said Mrs Cochrane.

“In fact, we’re quite a lively bunch. Only last week were practicing the sport of curling in the Bedford Guild Hall.

“It’s meant to be played on ice, of course, but the Guild Hall’s shiny floors were a good substitute!”