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I went to a knitted poo protest - here's what happened

They are the women's group that rose to notoriety when they slow-hand-clapped and heckled prime minister Tony Blair for an overtly political speech at one of their conferences. Three years later, in 2003, there was the hit movie The Calendar Girls starring Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie and Linda Bassett which put the Women's Institute well and truly in the spotlight.

The WI are staunchly non-political, but say they do get involved in campaigning on specific issues. So when they invited me along to their knitted poo against the regular discharges of raw sewage into the River Mersey, I felt obliged to attend.

About 60 women from the Urmston-based Social Lites Women's Institute waved placards and tied knitted poo, felt fish and other crafted wildlife to a bridge over the river to highlight the problem. It was a crisp late-summer morning when they all assembled at the Lord Nelson pub on Stretford Road in an action they dubbed 'yarn bombing'.

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In the nicest possible way, they are a bunch of charming women who do not take prisoners when it comes to getting their message across. They mingled affably with cyclists, runners and dog walkers along the footpath from the pub to the river, and garnered much support from motorists tooting their horns as they crossed Stretford Road.

The protest was to underline the National Federation of Women’s Institute’s campaign to clear up water during its ‘Week of River Action’ which finishes on Monday (September 18). WI member and protester Caroline Rimmer, 57, was brought up in Urmston.