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Soroptimist International South West & Channel Islands Regional AGM and Conference 25th June 2016

Sue, President Pauline and Liz
Sue, President Pauline and Liz ready for dinner

The annual Regional AGM and Conference held on the last Saturday of June was a lively and friendly occasion.   It was attended by Ann Hodgson, our Federation President Elect, and provided an opportunity to meet up with friends from around our large geographical region.

A very good video about the charity, Unseen, about trafficking was shown – though unfortunately the speaker was ill and unable to join us.   But for me the highlight of the conference was an inspiring and moving talk by Helen Young, a member of Bath Club about the charity ACROSS which runs Jumbulances.   These are specially extended and equipped coaches with full facilities to take sick and disabled passengers on 10 day trips to Lourdes and the South of France where they stay in a specially selected hotel near the Grotto.

We had the opportunity to have a guided tour round a Jumbulance by one of the drivers.   There are trolley beds on one side with extendable seats on the other (a bit like business class seats on a plane), with a pair of bunk beds for those who need a ‘bed’ overnight.  Journeys usually start in Glasgow, picking up passengers from Motorway service stations on the way through the country to the Channel tunnel.   They are driven non-stop by a team of drivers for 24 hours until their destination.  There is a fully qualified medical team on board but volunteer carers (who pay for themselves) also accompany the VIPs as they are called.   What a fantastic opportunity this must provide to those who had given up hope of ever being able to escape the confines and restrictions of their disability or illness.

We also heard about endometriosis from someone who not only works for the charity but very debilitating condition. In the evening we enjoyed a splendid dinner and were entertained by The Colerne Military Wives Choir a lovely way to end the day.