IT started the day with a warm welcome from a host of vintage cars and finished up on a ferry.

For the past four days the Women’s Institute centenary baton has winged its way through the streets of Hampshire by a variety of means, from luxury cars to horseboxes, a bicycle and even a pony and trap.

In communities the length and breadth of Hampshire members of the famous organisation, once famed for its jam and Jerusalem, have turned out in their hundreds – some dressing up for the celebrations to make a very special birthday.

But yesterday the baton, making its way around the country on a six-month tour to mark 100 years of the WI, was given a fond farewell as it left the county.

As reported by the Daily Echo, scores of people have taken part in the historic event, cheering on the baton which will eventually arrive at London’s Royal Albert Hall in June.

Yesterday it was the turn of the women of the New Forest to join in the fun as the baton began its journey in Ringwood, with a line of vintage cars to welcome it to the market town.

From there it was transported by a pair of runners before it was places on a trailer and tractor.

Before setting sail for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, it was taken by train from Brockenhurst to Lymington where it was met by the town mayor.

Its final journey in Hampshire was with the WI’s county chairman in a Porsche Cayman.

Hampshire WI coordinator Ros Cooper said it was a fitting end to a remarkable week for the Hampshire WI.

She said: “The atmosphere has been fantastic all week.

“There must have been 60 people for breakfast, there have been people joining and leaving on the way.

“You start preparing for these things a couple of years ahead but this week has been fantastic, it has been a really special occasion.

“It’s been hard work but it’s been worth every minute, everyone has been so enthusiastic.”