SI Ballymoney & District would like to thank all our patrons, for the generous support given to our fork supper and shoe show – their time, their friendship and of course their money! We would also like to thank: St. Patrick Parish Church for the use for the facilities; The Girl Guides for assistance with serving, clearing and dish washing; and Sarah’s Shoes for facilitating the shoe show. By all accounts a good night was had by all including our Club members for whom this truly is a night of service! Particular mention must be made of: The Social Committee, convened by Lily Swinson; Shoe models Alison Algeo and Pamela Smyth; Flower arrangers Elizabeth Atcheson, Pat Wright and Fiona Murdock; and All other members of SI Ballymoney & District for begging, borrowing or otherwise obtaining all the bits and pieces required for the evening –
Nessie Blair of Breathe Easy accompanied and assisted by Edna Doherty spoke to the Club about the work of the Causeway Breathe Easy Group. Members heard how the group had been established and were enlightened about its work. Most significantly we came to realise this was not some glorified no smoking group. In fact this is a group which provides much needed support to individuals who for a variety of reasons have a compromised respiratory system. The impact of continual breathlessness on everyday life was matter-of-factly outlined by Edna. She went on to explain how the Breathe Easy Group had helped her personally and publicly thanked Nessie for all her work.
Ballymoney & District members supported SI Bangor’s Autumn Arias which raised money for and awareness of Project SIerra, the current quadrennial project. The event was held in the magnificent Stormont Parliament Buildings and guests were treated to a feast of operatic arias performed by three young associate artists of the Opera Theatre Company. The evening started with a drinks reception and the chance to see the chambers in the Parliament Building. Guests were then seated in the Great Hall for the performance. The artists were Gavin Ring (baritone), Raphaela Mangan (mezzo-soprano) and Mairead Buicke (soprano). They were accompanied by Deborah Kelleher who also provided the audience with helpful and amusing insights into background and context of each of the pieces performed. There were 17 arias performed before an emphatically demanded encore! Following the performance guests had the oportunity to enjoy supper in the Long Gallery together with the artisits. It was a
Three Club members, Marie Magowan, Pamela Smyth and Jean Wales, took the opportunity to meet Tebereh Wolde-Gabriel, founder of Mums for Mums in Mekelle, Ethiopia, when SI Enniskillen & District hosted an open evening in the Killyhevin Hotel, Enniskillen. All attending were spell-bound as Tebereh recounted how she had come to idntify the need for and subsequentkly establish, grow and maintain the Mums for Mums project. While out walking as part of her rehabilitation after a stroke, Tebereh noticed a growing number of young women with babies or small children forced to beg on the street for money to survive. Rather than ignoring these young women she made it her business to find out how they came to be in these circumstances then set about establishing a means of getting them off the streets. By working to get these women into training and education Tebereh launced Mums for
A work colleague of our club president (’08-’09) is the secretary of Phoenix Cycling Club. Through this link the Club has become involved in supporting Bike Aid for Africa, Phoenix Cycling Club has set up a project to restore old bikes and send them out to Africa through existing charities. They are taking old bikes, parts of bikes, wheels etc from volunteers and/or council dumps. Members of the club help to service and repair the donated bikes before packing into containers for dispatch to Africa. The bikes will go to schools, orphanages, aid workers and aid projects via existing registered charities. The first batch is going in a few weeks through a consignment from a church charity in Newtownards. A number of other charities will be involved in the future. The first 19 ‘Ballymony’ bikes went at the end of June 2008.
On the 5th June 2008 the Club summer outing took members to the Millenium Centre in Loughguile and for a tour of the Causeway Cheese Company. Damien and Sue McCloskey put on an entertaining demonstration of cheese making before taking members to their small cheese manufacturing unit. As well as giving the opportunity to taste what they make there was the opportunity to buy some of the cheese to take home. A buffet supper, provided by the Club Executive, was served in the Millenium Centre together with pudding of strawberries and cream. Everyone had the chance to enjoy the company of friends and discuss all the holiday plans! The event, venue and meal all recieved many compliments.
As a direct consequence of attending the North South Conference, Club President, Jean Wales wrote, lobbying letters to the local MP, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Ian Paisley and to the Secretary of State requesting positve action from the UK Government regarding the agreement to ban the use and stock-piling of cluster munitions. Club members were invited to send letters in their own right and many mangaed to do so, despite a very tight deadline. The Club received a letter of acknowledgement from Dr Paisley. It now remains to be seen how effective the treaty brokered in Dublin will be in addressing the problems of cluster munitions.
The North / South conference held in Bray 2008 was a truly inspiring event, blessed with good weather and excellent company. SI Ballymoney & District members Barbara Kerr, Marie McGowan and Pamela Smyth accompanied club president, Jean Wales to the conference. Republic of Ireland President, Mary McAleese addressed the gathering at the Friday’s marvellous evening of friendship. President McAleese demonstrated a profound understanding of Soroptimism and commended the organisation for its attitude, aptitude and application to the work of the Soroptimist. Following the Regional A.G.M. on the Saturday were speeches from four very different individuals. Each was inspirational in their own way. Kathleen O’Toole, Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate, spoke on the development of leadership skills as learnt through her own experiences. She was the first female police commissioner of Boston, Massachusetts and was a member of the Patten Commission which reviewed policing in
SI Ballymoney & District celebrated its 44th Charter dinner in Royal Portrush Golf Club on Thursday 1st May 2008. It was a lovely evening with a glorious sunset providing the backdrop to the gathering. Fifty three attended in total including the Mayoress of Ballymoney, Mrs Linda Finlay, SI Northern Ireland Regional President, Jennifer Loughridge and visitors from Coleraine, Londonderry, Bangor, Portadown and Newtownards Clubs. We also had a number of non-Soroptimist guests including the guest speaker, the Reverend Sheila Spence and Bear all the way from Kirk o’ Shotts, north Lanarkshire, Scotland. The drinks reception was followed by an excellent meal. From the buzz of friendly chatter to be heard around the room it was amazing that anyone actually had time to eat! The meal was rounded off with tea, coffee and teddy bear shaped shortbread provided by Rev. Spence. The choice of speaker was
SI Ballymoney & District were delighted that Mr Carl Monteith, the Northern Ireland Co-ordinator for Meningitis UK was able to speak to us about his work. Carl explained how he had become so passionate about the cause. It was not as a result of any direct personal tradgedy of his own, but because of the suffering he witnessed in friends. Over the years of his involvement he has met many amazing characters, all with their own story, all with their own reason to fight for a vaccine. Good progress is being made, with a vaccine entering Phase 2 trails, and it is hoped that a vaccine to eradicate the disease will be available within the next 10 years. Continued progress does depend on funding and all contributions are gratefully recieved. In October SI Ballymoney and District raise £650 for menigitis UK and members were delighted