Elizabeth Hawes 1st International Liaison Secretary

Elizabeth Hawes 

“My education in England has given me fluency in several languages and this was a great help in my International work. I was a member of Greater London Club and when I attended the Atlantic City convention I was very honoured to be elected as the first International Liaison Secretary.

What a challenging experience! But little did I know that I would have to hold the office for 10 years because of World War 11

Throughout WW11 I remained in London. Soroptimists from all over the world visited me, bringing a spirit of hope, cheer and goodwill. Hundreds of parcels reached me despite torpedoed ships, damaged ports, bombed railways and battered Post Officers. I spent every weekend opening and distributing these parcels to the needy, always helped by Soroptimists.

My main concern was to hold our three Soroptimists Federations together. It was a difficult task.
In many countries citizens were deprived of all normal human rights, forbidden the freedom of opinion, of speech and of meeting. Correspondence was censored, conversations overheard, and it was almost impossible to trust anyone. I remember Dr. Madelaine Garot, the President of the European Federation, saying that she had to hide all papers and Minutes of the Federation under the coal. I sent her a Red Cross telegram saying only “Workinghard and hopeful” and she told me later it meant a great deal to know that European Soroptimists were not forgotten and that it inspired them to hold on”

How Elizabeth Hawes managed to maintain contacts with Soroptimists in Occupied Europe no-one will ever know for certain, but it is certain that she had her own “underground network” of brave women throughout Europe during those dark and dangerous, days.