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New Year’s January/February President’s Blog

January and February

Well, the first two months of the year have certainly seen some stormy weather. Zoom proved its worth as our main method of meeting in January and it was a truly Hybrid speaker meeting in February. It was good to catch up in person for those who could make it in February.  I had the honour of welcoming two new members, Jan Pratt, and Lynne Clark to the Club. It is fantastic that our Club is growing, and our new members bring with them knowledge and skills that will support us in achieving our aim to improve the lives of women and girls locally and globally.

Welocme Lynne and Jan

Programme Action Meeting

The heartbeat of Soroptimist International is our Programme Action work. Sandra Jowett and the Programme Action team organised an excellent meeting.  We heard from a diversity of presenters as we explored the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in terms of the 5 Ps – People, Prosperity, Planet, Partnerships and Peace. The evening gave us chance to find out how that relates to what we do.

Five P’sPartnerships


Immediate Past President Sandra Frier’s chosen charity Just ‘B’ is a fantastic example of Partnership working.  We raised over £11000 to support Just ‘B’ in their work to provide Bereavement Services. This was achieved by working with different organisations such as Saint Michael’s Hospice Charity Shops, Harrogate Grammar PTA, getting sponsorship from a raft of businesses and individual support by TV personality Caroline Hawley from Flog it and the French Chef at Home who supported our Zoom Burns Night supper.

People and Peace

Domestic abuse remains a key issue in relation to People and Peace. The presentation from Jo Squire from the Women’s Refuge highlighted why we must continue to support and campaign to ‘Stop Violence and Abuse of Women’.  The pandemic has witnessed a significant rise in domestic abuse of women and children.

Planet and Prosperity

Global warming (man-made and natural) is affecting our Planet. We are beginning to witness first-hand what this means to our everyday life and the life of others.  Hearing more about the need to insulate our homes and the methods of heating our homes in the future gave us food for thought as to what action we can take as individuals. This links to Michelle Hayes excellent presentation in February about Resurrection Bites. The ironic link between Prosperity in hunger and food poverty and the amount of food waste and impact on the Planet the carbon generates was truly awful.

Soroptimist News

As part of Soroptimist International we have a voice at the United Nations. That is why it is important for us to feed back the action we take on the 5 Ps.  The latest edition of Soroptimist News also keeps us informed about what is happening in the wider organisation as well as other Clubs. So please do check out the website download the app. This month’s edition even features me presenting the Gill Smith Memorial Trophy awarded annually to the best girl improver at Harrogate Spa Tennis Club!

Planting Trees

So, what else have I been doing these last two months? Well, the rain didn’t stop 12 of us venturing down to the muddy banks of the Wharfe in Wetherby to plant our final memorial tree – in Memory of our Soroptimist Sisters.  I think the word ‘plant’ is not a true reflection as Colin and Gerald from Leeds City Council did the hard work. The Mayor of Wetherby, Cllr Neil O’Byrne and myself only had to hold the very shiny spade provided by Penny.

Memorial Tree Planting – Wetherby

I am hoping the tree has managed to survive the recent floods.  A big thank you to  Penny and our Wetherby members, Hilary, Elsie, and Heather for organising the tree planting and especially to Penny whose Tree Planting team have managed to secure three memorial trees to celebrate SI’s centenary year and remember our Soroptimist Sisters.




Hungarian Fund Raiser for the Trussell Trust

I enjoyed a fabulous Hungarian Night out at Marta’s who raised £60 for the President’s Trussell Trust and local Food Bank Funds. The food was delicious. Marta taught us the Hungarian traditional dance the Csárdás.

Traditional Hungarian Meal
Traditional Hungarian Meal

Toilet Twinning

Looking forward to March. The Toilet Twining Campaign lead by Sue Williams is well underway and I am looking forward to the launch on the 8th of March.  It is also International Women’s. Linking back to the 5 Ps.  Clean water and sanitation are prime factors in maintaining health and well-being. But we know that for women and girls, having to go to the loo in the bush, are more vulnerable and at risk of attack by animals and possible sexual assault or even death.  We are pleased that we have had a very positive response to the launch from local councillors, the Chair of North Yorkshire County Council and the Mayors of Harrogate Borough and Pateley Bridge.

Civic party with Toilets courtesy of Duftons and and SI Sheffied and Poo Bear

Regional Council Meeting –  The Bridge Hotel, Wetherby

I am also delighted that 21 members have signed up to attend the Regional Council Meeting in March.  I am really looking forward to this event as I am part of Regional President Lindsay’s organising team. It will be an excellent day with the bonus of being not too far to travel.

Easyfundraising  – Easy way to raise money while doing buying online

Well done to those of you who have signed up for Easyfundraising.  We have raised nearly £200 in the last three years just by doing our online shopping via the Easyfundraising website. Please let me know if you want more details about how to use the Easyfundraising.