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A Night to Celebrate

For over 75 years, Bridgend Soroptimists have been raising awareness of local, national and international issues, as well as supporting local and international charities. With a focus on education, poverty prevention and human rights, they advocate for positive change and aim to make a difference to the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Their Presentation Night in April provided an opportunity to share all that they have achieved in the last twelve months and to celebrate with some of their key supporters and beneficiaries.

The first two presentations were made to people that have come along to club meetings as guest speakers. Ian Cole of Porthcawl RNLI accepted a cheque on behalf of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. President Lesley said that living with such a beautiful coastline on our doorstep we sometimes forget how dangerous it can be. It had been a real eye-opener to discover all that the Lifeboat volunteers do.

Faith O’Sullivan and her guide dog, Buddy, were delighted to accept a cheque on behalf of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Members had been fascinated by how much support Buddy has given Faith since she lost her sight and how having him has enabled her to retain her independence.

Education is a key focus for Soroptimists everywhere and Bridgend is no exception. We have continued our support for Y Bont Special School here in Bridgend, providing hands-on fundraising support as well as a regular financial donation.

The club also has a long-standing project in which we sponsor girls in Cape Verde to continue their secondary education and improve their future prospects. We had been very pleased to receive a very moving letter from our most recent graduate in which she thanked us for giving her so many opportunities.

We have also supported Pencoed Primary School with a donation to enable them to replenish some of their books and also allow them to take less able children on educational visits locally.

Another long-standing project is with the charity Pipal Tree in Nepal. Through the Big Give, our significant donation was match-funded making it go even further. This means that through a Pipal Tree-supported social enterprise, Lily’s Leaves, even more vulnerable young women have been trained in basic and advanced tailoring and in silver jewellery manufacture and life skills. We have also supported an additional teacher in a school in one of the most deprived areas of the country, as well as provided school rucksacks and reusable sanitary products ensuring that more children, and young girls in particular, can continue their education.

During the last year, Bridgend Soroptimists have supported Bridgend Samaritans, made a donation to the Motor Neuron Disease Association and Barnardo’s as well as supported our three Soroptimist charities – our International President’s Appeal, the Diamond Education Trust and the SIGBI Benevolent Fund.

In accepting our donation, Sarah Rowe from Barnardo’s explained a little about the work that is done locally by the charity and outlined how our money would be used.

Eliminating violence against women has been a key theme in the club for quite a number of years. Bridgend Soroptimists have supported the Women’s Refuge in Bridgend in many ways for a long time and work closely with Llamau to continue to provide hands-on support as well as financial help. We were pleased to welcome two ladies from Llamau who explained how much they valued our support and how much the ladies in the refuge benefitted from our interaction with them.

The evening provided an opportunity to thank all members of SI Bridgend, as well as their friends and families, for their ongoing support to our projects, events and activities. We were delighted too that Gail Devine from BAVO (Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations) was able to join us and we look forward to developing our connection with BAVO in the coming year.

We also recognised the exceptional support we have had from three particular friends of the club – Liam Dixon, Katie Davies and Samantha B – presenting them with a Certificate of Thanks.

Our final presentation of the evening was to Nancy Lidubwi from BAWSO. BAWSO is a charity that supports ethnic minorities across Wales affected by domestic violence and other forms of abuse. BAWSO has been our President’s charity for 2023-2024 and we were delighted to present Nancy with a cheque to help further their work.

President Lesley closed the evening by thanking everyone who had come along and saying that it had been a great opportunity to show exactly what Soroptimists are all about.