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A Special Celebration for International Women’s Day!



We all had a wonderful evening last night Celebrating International Women’s Day on 9 March 2021.  We were joined by Federation President Johanna Raffan MBE for Question Time. All of the questions put to Johanna were devised by club members. It was very interesting to hear about the possibilities of having clubs  focused  specifically on  younger members and how clubs will continue to move  forward in embracing technology such as Zoom. Johanna spoke about all the Centenary plans  for this year including an  exhibition which will be displayed in prominent  places around the  UK including the  Scotland  and  Northern Ireland  parliaments and it will be available digitally across SIGBI. The Centenary  reception at the House of Lords in July will be a special celebration and all are welcome to apply.   We heard about a very productive piece of programme action, the Kori Development Project in Sierra Leone,  involving women who were  survivors of FGM. The project started several years ago  and is now a charity in its own right and is something that Johanna is very proud to have been involved with.

Hilary Page MBE received her framed certificate and Liz Batten, from SI Salisbury, read a portion of Hilary’s story  and shared some memories, as did Johanna Raffan. Hilary also received a silver Soroptimist brooch which was made in the 1980s  and was modelled on a Rennie Mackintosh design.

Two of our newest members, Tina Bull  and Jennifer Harding, were inducted by Johanna and were able to show their members’ packs  and badges on screen. They were both recruited at the time of the pandemic and we are very pleased to have them on board . Two club Honorary members, Charlotte Kneer (from Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid ) and Sarbjit Athwal (from True Honour),  were presented with certificates and a narrative of their incredible achievements was read by Diana Porter.

The evening was attended by club members and Soroptimists from Southern England Region and beyond as well as some family members and friends.

Here are some comments from the evening:

“Thank you for an inspiring evening.”

 “Thank you for making me welcome, an honour to share your club’s special evening.”

“To be able to share in the induction of your two new members, the conferring of Honorary Membership on two such worthy women and the presentation to Hilary Page was a real privilege.  So, too, was the Q&A session with Johanna, especially hearing about the amazing Kori Project and her views as to where we go from here on membership.”

Remembering SIGBI President Johanna Raffan MBE

Sadly, Johanna passed away on Tuesday 15 June 2021. .

Below is a short video clip of Johanna talking about her time working and travelling abroad as a Soroptimist.