It must be about fifteen years since we first got involved with asylum seekers and refugees in Bolton. We ‘adopted’ two asylum seekers from Africa and did our best to help them feel welcome in the town, and invited them to our social events. As the daughter of one of members our told us, we found that they were truly ‘people like us’; for the best part of ten years we learnt a lot about their difficulties and came to have great admiration for them. It was a great relief to us all that eventually they got ‘leave to remain’, and we were able to enrol them as members of our Club. Our two African members soon brought a third member making her life in Britain; she and her husband now have a daughter, and we keep in touch with the family as time moves
Two of our members have personal experience of the sadness affecting a whole family at the loss of a baby. Eileen still mourns the loss of her grandson Kim who ought to have now been ready to go to university; Susan’s granddaughter Elizabeth was a more recent loss. We thanked them for a moving and courageous presentation of what they and their families experienced. Our Charity Supper on Wednesday October 19th will raise funds for the three charities above. We were delighted to hear that Susan’s daughter Rachel had given birth that morning to Ivy Elizabeth.
On a fine and sunny day in October members of the Club and Toby the Dog enjoyed a walk round Bolton’s fine reservoirs at Wayoh and Entwistle. By the time of our meeting on Tuesday of that week the walkers had raised just over £1,000 for the Bolton Ukraine Community effort to help their families and friends struggling to save their country from Russian aggression. The money has gone via the Red Cross.
The ‘She Inspires’ awards have their origins in Bolton and we are proud to have our Past President Carole Swarbrick recognised for her leadership and achievements. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award as a Councillor and former Mayoress of Bolton. Her second trophy was for being North West Woman of the Year 2021. Carole’s involvement in education meant she was Executive Member for Children’s Services for several years; being North West Woman of the Year for 2021 speaks for itself.
Our first project in the autumn was to create eight boxes of useful and comforting items for young people setting up their first homes alone with the help of the charity ‘Backup’. If you have no family support to help you get started in your new life its a long and lonely road.
Our new President Glynis Hughes is the owner of two nursing homes in Bolton and so more involved than most of us in the long battle against Covid 19. We all admire the way that she and her staff have kept their residents safe and well. At our first ‘real’ meeting, past President Carole Swarbrick hands over the Chain after her two years keeping the Club alive with frequent Zooms and friendly emails.
Since we emerged from isolation last month we have enjoyed two meetings at the Mercure, picking up the threads of Projects in Bolton such as support for ‘Backup’, and considering the entries to our Young Achiever Award. Social events have included a lunch and a visit to Bolton Little Theatre, and coffee mornings will resume shortly. The sixteen clubs in our Region held a lunch yesterday to welcome seventeen new members and to celebrate the best of our Projects, and all are arranging to plant trees to celebrate 100 Years of Soroptimism. Our own Celebration in November will remember three active and greatly missed members who left us during the dark days of lockdown. By Christmas we hope to be able to resume Speaker Meetings (varying from travels in search of wild life to the work of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust UK). In March we
A second grief for the Club is the loss of Cynthia Schofield. As Soroptimits we try to improve the lives of women and girls everywhere, but Cynthia believed in improving the lives of Club members by arranging our social activities. Our annual Charter Dinner was a miracle of organisation and fun, the annual Christmas Party started our festive season, and Cynthia was always an entertaining part of the Coffee Mornings that she and Val set up to raise funds for Street People and other local causes. We will miss her entertaining presence in many ways.
We are not able during the current crisis to say good bye to and celebrate the lives of our good friends. In the last month we have mourned the deaths of Liz Harrison and Vera Whittaker; both had been active Soroptimists for well over forty years (Liz as a member of the Salford Club who joined us in 2005, and Vera in Bolton). Both were ex-Presidents who served their Clubs in various capacities, were were active in our charitable activities; and both kept up their interest in promoting the interests of women and girls world wide despite their being well over ninety. Liz received her 45 Years certificate recently. They hosted coffee mornings (Liz was famous for her scones), and fund raising events (Vera’s suppers with delicious food after the beetle drives) and parties to lift our spirits. They arranged Charter Dinners with other Clubs