Ballymoney and District Club was chartered on the 13th June 1964 with a membership of 20. The Coleraine Club acted as sponsor and the first President was the late Dr Sadie Gault. In the early days meetings were held in member’s homes but as the club grew alternative venues had to be found. Currently the Club meets in the Tweed Room, Robinson Hospital, Newal Road, Ballymoney.
As the Club has grown and developed so has its activities. In the early days tea and chat was as important as the work of the Club and in that regard little has changed. However the main charity event has developed over the years. For a time it was a wine and cheese party in the Manor Hotel, courtesy of the late Maureen Laverty, then became a more ambitious annual fork supper in the St. Patrick’s Parish Centre. In 2010 we opted for a table quiz in Ballymoney Rugby Club. This proved so popular we ran out of tables! And we reached a different audience, widening awareness of Soroptimist International.
The work of the founder and early members in getting the Club to grow and prosper is inspiring. Houses and gardens were opened for tea parties and the enthusiasm for Soroptimist International was spread. The Club is now a very healthy size around 33 with the majority in the ‘active’ category although at time it appears that our ‘retired’ members are as busy if not busier than the active members. In a club of this size it is still easy to get to know everyone. Getting to know other members and getting involved is key to getting the most from the Club and from Soroptimist International.
The Club has produced 3 Regional Presidents (formerly Divisional Union Presidents) over the years, the late Etta McClure in 1976, the late Margaret Charters in 1983 and Dr Pamela Young in 1994. As well as the presidential role Etta was Regional Extension Officer for a time and Pamela was vice-chair of the organising committee for the Belfast Federation Conference. Margaret compiled a short history of the clubs of Ireland as part of the celebration of the golden jubilee of SIGBI.
We have a history that we are proud of and, as a Club, we have a future which knows no bounds. We have a wealth of talent and enthusiasm for life, for friendship and for Soroptimist International. At present the Club is undertaking a process of review and renew – essentially we want to hold on to all the good things about the Club but at the same time develop new and fresh ideas for how we can take the Club forward, continue with meaningful work and retain our membership and attendance levels.