Our summer outing this year was to Levens Hall, which is famous for the topiary trees. The weather was not as nice as it had been recently but we were able to get out into the gardens and it stayed dry enough to enjoy tea and cake outside at the end of our visit. It is a very interesting house and the gardens are lovely.
On the evening of 27th June 6 members of the Blackburn Club went to Witton Park and took part in the Race for Life. It was a beautiful evening, a little too hot for the 5k run, although I have to admit there was not too much running involved but dressed in pink we did our bit to raise awareness and funds for Cancer Research. We took part to remember loved ones who had lost there lives to cancer and especially several past members of the club. We all enjoyed it and we raised well over £300 so we hope to persuade more members to take part next year to raise more money.
Several members attended the Regional meeting which took place on Saturday 23rd June at Lancaster University. It was a very interesting day with some excellent speakers.
Gill Gilbert, a custody sergeant in Bury spoke to us first. SI Pendleside have been supporting a project which started in Bury by providing toiletries, underwear and sanitary protection for women arriving in the custody suite. In the past very little had been provided for women and men taken into custody. Making time to allow those in custody to have a shower and clean their teeth etc. not only makes them feel better and react more positively to questioning but benefits the police working in a cleaner and better atmosphere.
Maggie Rey, a member of SI Preston, then spoke about ‘Maggie in a Minefield’. Maggie had wanted to do some charity work and after looking on the internet found some information about Laos. When she arrived she had expected it to be the beautiful country it is but did not expect there to be so much poverty. Maggie got involved with Mines Advisory Group (MAG). Bombs were dropped to destroy routes into Vietnam. Maggie showed us a map with red dots and each red dot indicated a bombing raid. Large areas on the map of Laos were completely red. Work started to clear bombs in 1994 so they could safely cultivate the land, cluster bombs being the main problem. Notice boards are put up daily with names of those injured. It will take another 20 years to clear. Hilary Clinton has been and President Obama pledged $90m to help when he went in 2016.
Di Hill, Federation Director without portfolio, then gave us an update on the 2021 Vision. Following the general meeting presentations were made for the two Programme Action awards and the Membership award. The Darwen Shield was won by SI Rishton and Great Harwood, the Carnforth Trophy was won by SI Blackpool and Si Blackburn won the Haslingden Trophy for membership retention.
Adele, from Lancashire Women’s Centres came to speak at our speaker meeting on 4th June at Foxfields Hotel. Adele gave an informative talk about the Women’s Centres and it is hoped that we will be raising funds and working with the Blackburn Centre over the next year.
Five club members attended the Regional social evening for the Rose Bowl Competition at Cabus Village Hall. This competition takes place every year and the Regional President sets the challenge. This year the aim was for clubs to work with as many members as possible on a project with the title ‘Together We Can………. ‘, inserting whatever the club wanted to achieve together. The Blackburn club had started some work on the problem of Period Poverty so decided to give our entry the title of ‘Together we can Spare Their Blushes’. Siobhan put the presentation together and presented it to the audience, which was made up of around 60 members from clubs in the region. Nine clubs took part in the competition and the entries were varied. Some clubs put together scrapbooks of their activities and some started new projects or worked together to learn something new and useful. Each club present on the evening marked the presentations and the winning club will be announced later in the year when the Rose Bowl will also be presented. Regional President Maureen was impressed with the work members had done and the variety of the projects. The evening finished in the usual Soroptimist way with a delicious buffet supper.
Four Blackburn members, Margaret, Andrea, Tricia and Angie attended the South Lancashire Regional Conference at Southport on Saturday 12th May. The theme of the conference was ‘Reach Out’.
The morning started with Hannah Flint from Stop the Traffik. Hannah gave us examples of human traffikking and modern slavery and highlighted ways in which Stop the Traffik is helping to raise awareness and help in many different areas, abroad and locally. She said “There are more slaves today than at any other time in history”.
Following Hannah was SIGBI Ambassador for the Meru Garden Project, Patricia Gatherum. Patricia along with several other Soroptimists had recently visited the project in Kenya and gave us an update on the progress. When the women were asked what they most wanted the answer was always clean water.
Next up was Mike Crowther from the Empowerment charity in Blackpool. This charity was set up to support children and young people who are affected by domestic violence. The charity had set up ‘The Den’ which is a place the youngsters can go to feel safe and have fun. The organisation helped in many ways with one to one support, drop in sessions in High schools, group sessions in Primary and Secondary schools and social activities. Mike said “A child who lives with violence is forever changed but not forever damaged. There is a lot we can do to make tomorrow better”
After lunch Ben Mott gave a wonderful presentation on Living with Dementia. When Ben started his career one of his first assignments was in a dementia ward and from the beginning he loved working in this field of nursing. His presentation was so positive and he said that it could be a joyous life. He felt that the elderly are not valued enough. Each person should be treated for their particular needs as they do not all have the same problems.
Sue Williams, SIGBI President Elect had the final slot and told us all about her visit to Nepal after the earthquake and all the good work the members of the Kathmandu club were doing. There was desolation in the capital city after the earthquake and the Soroptimists were living in terrible conditions but they met up the day after the disaster and decided they had to do something. They bought blankets and tarpaulins and walked to communities in need. A large sum of money had been sent from all the Soroptimist Federations and Sue was invited to go and oversee the expenditure of these funds. She said the funds were in good hands with the local Soroptimists who were managing to keep records very well. Sue also told us about her theme for her year in office, which starts in October this year. The theme will be ‘Supporting Mental Health’ and will be raising awareness and action rather than fund raising.
The conference had certainly given us something to think about and had been a very pleasant day with friends old and new. When all the formalities were completed South Lancashire President Margaret got us all on our feet and singing to ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’ by the Four Tops, which was a perfect end to a very interesting day.
Blackburn member Andrea Baker held a coffee morning at her home to raise awareness of Period Poverty. Members and friends attended the event enjoying cake, coffee and conversation as well as raising funds for two local charities Nightsafe and Humraaz. These charities frequently need to help women who find themselves in the embarrassing situation of having to choose between buying sanitary protection or food. One member told her fellow keep fitters about this event and many of the ladies kindly donated sanitary products for the charities.
Several Blackburn members attended the annual Federation Conference in Cardiff. This is a very enjoyable event when we meet up with members across the federation from as far as the Caribbean, Nepal, Malta, Africa, Pakistan and India as well as from Ireland and the UK, including Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The keynote speakers were really fantastic with Michael Kaufman, founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, Dame Katherine Grainger, Olympic gold medalist rower and Mandy Hickson, a former RAF pilot, all wowing us with their inspirational talks and enthusiasm.
What a wonderful evening we all had at the Friendship evening held at Foxfields Hotel. Delicious cakes provided by members and great entertainment from poets and musicians all with a Lancashire theme. There was a full house with Blackburn club members, friends and women from other groups in the area. Money was raised from a raffle for the President’s chosen charity, Nightsafe.
A summer outing to Gawthorpe Hall was enjoyed by several of our members. The hall has many interesting things to see including 17th century panelling and a wonderful textile collection amassed by Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth. In good Soroptimist style this visit was followed by afternoon tea at Mitton Hall in the Ribble Valley.
At the Christmas lunch members and friends used the occasion to say goodbye to Immediate Past President Isobel Groves. Isobel is moving to Sevenoaks to be nearer to her family. A presentation was make of a picture of Pendle Hill to remind her of all the happy times had while living in Blackburn. Members thanked her for all the hard work she has done for the Club since she joined in 1990.
Four members travelled to Malta to attend to annual Federation Conference. The conference speakers theme was Engineering the Future and included Helen Sharman the first British person in space. Full details of the conference can be found on the SIGBI website.
Outgoing Regional President Margaret Hammond handed over the chain of office to Incoming Regional President Angie Christopher. Both are members of Blackburn Club , making this a special honour for the Club.
The Club held its annual Friendship Evening at the beginning of October. Friends from other Soroptimist Clubs, Women’s Groups from Blackburn and the Mayoress of Blackburn listened to a fascinating talk on the LIfe of Bees by Dr Julia Piggott. The evening was themed with a Bees inspired raffle, cakes featuring honey and the walls decorated with bees.
At the annual Regional Lunch the Club was delighted to be awarded the Carnforth Trophy in recognition of its work over the last five years in supporting the Asian Women’s refuge Humraaz. The Club members have donated toilet bags, knickers and food to this project.
Regional President Margaret Hammond presenting the trophy.
At the Club’s AGM Mrs Cath Read was installed as President. Cath is a recently retired processing manager for Communis, has added the role to her varied and busy life. Cath who lives in Leyland is married to Dennis whom she met when they were both Royal Navy Reserves based at Preston. She joined Leyland Soroptimists in 1988 and has been president there. When that club closed, she joined Soroptimist International of Blackburn.
Her hobbies include African Drumming and being a member of West Lancs Masonic Classic Car Club
The Club celebrated 80 years of service at a lunch at the Samlesbury Hotel. Members were joined by family and friends to listen to Baroness Hale of Richmond who proposed the toast to Soroptimist International and the response was given by Federation President Margaret Emsley.
The top picture shows President Isabel with fellow Presidents .
The bottom photo is previous Presidents of Blackburn Club with President Isobel and Lady Hale
Members visited the Blackburn Food Bank to hear about the wonderful work being undertaken by these dedicated people. Members were told of just how much this is need . We now have two members who are actively involved with the running of the Centre.
The 7th Annual Charity Quiz Night was held on the 11th at Wilpshire Golf Club. Twentyfour Teams took part and with the proceeds going to the East Lancs Hospice. A lively and fun evening with some fierce rivalry taking place.
The AGM was held on 27th with President Viv handing over to Isobel . Isobel presented the programme for the coming year and promised that we would have varied and interesting 80th year.
President Viv’s year was rounded off with a canal walk at Wheelton with members taking advantage of the spring weather . This was followed by refreshments at the nearby Malthouse.
The 79th Charter celebration lunch was held at the Samlesbury Hotel on the 8th March. Seventytwo people attended including presidents from other Soroptimist clubs including our “mother” club Manchester. Regional President Tessa Jones congratulated the Club on the work it has been doing. The afternoon was rounded off with the wonderful choir Sing it Big.
Gill Watson came and talked to about the needs for Food Banks and the reason people are having to use them. A very lively and energeric lady her commitment to others was inspiring.
A knitting and sewing evening was held at a member’s house. In support of the project to make “pillowcase” dresses as part of the Dress A Girl Around the World campaign. We were asked to imagine a World where every little girl owned at least one dress!
Other members had their knitting needles busy creating squares to be joined together into blankets for mothers and babies at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia.