Skip links

Region President Report


My year started with the SIGBI Belfast Conference where we heard quality speakers, tapped our feet along with Irish dancers and wined and dined.  Karen Webb presented at Conference about the mastectomy cushions made by SI Runcorn and Frodsham.  The actual Change of Insignia was a damp squib as there were no exchanges of chains and no photographs.  IPP Yvonne, however, made sure that the Region Change of Insignia was more memorable at the Kinmel Hotel in November.

The last 9 months have been fast moving beginning with a coach trip to Chatsworth for Christmas displays and markets.  Those members who came along were thrilled by the wonderful Christmas exhibits in an opulent house owned by the Duke of Devonshire and, judging by the amount of bags loaded onto the coach on the homeward journey, spent up in the colourful, aromatic and joyous market.

With one trip being successful, it seemed natural for there to be another and we visited The National Arboretum in June on a perfect summer’s day.  30 plus members enjoyed looking around the varied and beautiful memorials set in glorious gardens and woodlands, not least our pilgrimage to the SI memorial. Thank you Janet for organising the trip.There have been three Officers and Rep’s meetings – one at The Imperial in Llandudno, one at the Stamfordgate Inn and another on Zoom.  All were productive in moving the Region forward under my strap line of  ‘New Chapters Generate New Stories’.

We have had a full complement of Officers, until the resignation of Barbara Myers, Safeguarding, and Representatives from all the clubs.

The team of Officers is a strong one – but there are still vacancies which need filling for 2023 – 24.

My first Region meeting in February, on Zoom, heard Rachel Clacher speak about We Mind the Gap, a charity based in Wrexham.  Her charity seeks to work intensively with young people who have fallen through the gap and nurtures self-esteem, confidence and desire to enter the work place.  She is currently undertaking a project to contact all young people in Wrexham who were 16 – 18 during lockdowns and will report at the end of a year study as to their work, studies and well being.

The second Region meeting was held at The Queen Hotel in Chester, a popular venue, reasonably priced as we managed to secure a favourable delegate rate based on pre-Covid prices.  The speaker, Adam Norton held his audience with staggering statistics, facts and anecdotes on the rising County Lines in our Region.  Director of Programme, Lindsay Green and Alan Dixon judged the Barbara Dixon Award which was worthily won by SI Llandudno for their clothes bank project and is making a massive difference to Ukrainians in the locality.  Whilst SI Llandudno were deemed the winners, in my eyes, all were winners with their professional quality of displays and the commendable projects at the heart of those.

It seems strange to be writing an end of year report when there are still two more Region meetings to be held:  one at The Imperial in Llandudno in September and another in November for the Change of Insignia at The Queen Hotel (with a Christmas lunch).  The September meeting is experimental as it does not include lunch in order to keep the price down.  It will be interesting to see what members think of that arrangement.  The speaker will be Rebecca Morgan-Brennan who works with The Little Princess Trust and Look Good Feel Better.  It is also the AGM.  Both of these meeting will include sales tables, by request from members.

I was greatly saddened by the closure of SI Birkenhead, though pleased that four of the members transferred and that other ex-members will continue to meet for regular chats and even holidays.   I have also been saddened that long standing members of Ellesmere Port have resigned their membership.  We have lost some stalwarts of our region and they will be greatly missed.

The New Members’ Lunch in March was a great success and found to be enjoyable, instructive and creative.  New members, mentors and Officers attended. The new members were tasked with planning a PA project on Bin Twinning and they came up with some inventive ideas.  Unfortunately, since then, we heard that Tearfund have abandoned Bin Twinning.  However, the principles of planning a project can be put to good use in Clubs who would be wise to include their new members in the process.  Whilst they did that, officers and mentors put their heads together to come up with guidance tips for nurturing new members.  This will be distributed to club soon.  Mel from SI Anglesey gave a presentation about a pop-up charity shop and Pat, Regional Secretary presented a breakdown of SI’s structure, locally, nationally and globally.

And I visited a number of Clubs to meet their members during business meetings:  SI Anglesey, SI Bebington, SI Runcorn and Frodsham, SI Llandudno, SI Heswall, SI Chester, SI Northwich and in August SI Ellesmere Port and in September SI Nantwich and SI Denbigh’s Macmillan coffee morning.

Another highlight was the afternoon I spent at the Eisteddfod.  We were blessed with a warm day and it was my privilege to present the beautiful dancers from Thailand with a certificate and £200 donation towards their costs.  I watched their colourful and upbeat dance in the main tent and they were delighted to get second place.  Our tent, this year in a great location, had been set up immaculately by the LIME committee to appeal to passers-by to enter.  Jewellery, bags and scarves brought in much needed revenue.

Other events I have attended have included both face to face and Zoom meetings with Programme Action Officers and regular meetings with the PA Officer, Treasurer, Secretary and Membership.   I also went to the opening ceremony of Tomorrow’s Women Chester and the Sheriff of Chester’s Charity Breakfast.  I attended the North West England’s Conference in Brockholes near Preston and a Modern Slavery Conference in Wrexham.  I will be going to Dublin for the Convention and (undecided) this year’s Conference in London.

A number of initiatives have been set up this year.

An informal friendship link with South Lancashire has seen two meetings with their team of five and our team of four.  South Lancs were very keen that the link be kept as informal initially with an exchange of News Letters, shared ideas of projects and membership recruitment.  The Micro loans project saw the release of £500.00 from the Region account to help women with their sanitation and businesses managed by a team of four.  We endeavour to loan to single women, single mothers and widows.  Steady loan repayments have enabled us to begin reinvesting across the globe.  As well as the new member’s guidance sheet I have also produced a guidance sheet on trying to standardise information to members concerning Charter Dinners and other Region events.

I have also joined the SIGBI Microloans team and we meet monthly.  Although on a larger scale than that at Region, it has provided an insight into the management and accounting that we can adopt or strive for.

My President’s Appeal to collect products for period poverty was overwhelming.  All clubs participated and brought vast amounts of products to the Region meeting in May at The Queen Hotel.  I asked for a mountain – and that is what I got.  The products were taken back to Clubs for their own distribution to local food banks or other outlets.  Well done to all the Clubs for giving so generously and providing women in your area with some dignity.  Photographs were sent to The King and Queen, but sadly no reply was received. This project was linked with The Big Help Out to get Soroptimist publicity on Social Media.  Penni Nicholas gave clubs training on how to use the App in order to gain publicity and volunteers for the BHO.

I would like to thank all the Officers for their expertise and professionalism in their roles and if I can be indulged in naming a few;  Pat for keeping me on track and with whom I have met on many occasions, Janet who helped me with the Arboretum trip, Diane who has navigated hotel contracts and bookings, Penny for her help with the New Member’s Lunch and all the other Officers.  Thank you also to the Club Reps who have attended meetings, whether that be on Zoom or face to face.  Above all, thank you to all the Region members who continue to come to Region meetings and, as a consequence, give us unity, a common friendship and a feeling of being one big family.

I have enjoyed my year as Region President and will be reluctant in some ways to hand over to Janet in November, but on the other hand it has been a busy year – a full time job – and I look forward to having something of a rest

Region President Susan Haywood