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President’s Blog – March

Storm clouds gathered physically and metaphysically at the beginning of March. For the world, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine has led to the biggest migration of people since the Second World War; in the UK, as over a million trees were blown down in the successive storms; and personally, as a bout of Covid meant that I was unable to chair the March business meeting.  Thank you, President Elect Pat, for deputising for me.

The world has changed. The last two years have changed the way we live our lives as we return to the ‘new normal’ as the pandemic continues.  The war in Ukraine has woken many of us to how quickly things can change from stability to absolute horror. I know that our Soroptimist sisters, especially in Poland but also other countries too are supporting the millions of refugees, mostly women and children who are escaping the horrors of warfare.  Many of us are showing our support by making personal donations and I know the Club will also be donating from our charity funds. We are also in contact with Harrogate Place of Sanctuary as to how we best support the Refugees who make it to Harrogate and District.

New members and Mentors Afternoon Tea

New Members and Mentors Afternoon tea
New Members and Mentors Afternoon tea

Having to isolate due to Covid meant that I missed the excellent afternoon tea on the 26th of March organised by Penny, Sue Williams, and the Membership team.  New members and their mentors met at the Crown Hotel, and it sounds like it was a useful and fun event. I am so sorry not to have been there.

Launch of the Toilet Twinning Project

Civic Group at Toilet Twinning Launch

 A quarter of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to safe drinking water and safe waste disposal. The official launch of the Toilet Twinning Project on International Women’s Day on the 8th of March was a great success.  We know that for women and girls, not having a safe place to go to the loo or having to miss school or give it up all together with the onset of puberty seriously impacts on women and girls’ well-being and chances in life.  Well done to Sue Williams and the Toilet Twinning Team for an excellent evening. I believe we have already achieved one of the targets of attaining Toilet Twinning Status for Harrogate District with over 30 toilets twinned.

It was a lovely evening and great to see a fantastic turn out by members. We were pleased to welcome the Chair of North Yorkshire Council, the Mayors of Harrogate Borough and Pateley Bridge and the President of Soroptimist International of Yorkshire, Lindsay Green. Thank you to Maureen for coordinating the refreshments and sorting out the venue.

Club Members stand up for Women on International Women’s Day

Regional Council Meeting

 The Yorkshire Region meet four times a year. The Yorkshire President comes into office at the Federation Conference held in October. This is the second of the four meeting during President Lindsay’s term of office.  The event, attended by over ninety Soroptimists from across the twenty Clubs that make up the Region met at The Bridge Hotel, Wetherby.

I would like to thank Judith Webb, our Regional Rep and all the members who help steward the meeting.  You all did a fabulous job. I know Judith will be reporting back on the meeting. President Lindsay, a member of the SI Selby, made special mention of the Club’s Friendship link SI Dnipro in the Ukraine.  Lighting a candle for Peace.  It was very moving to look at the photos taken by Club members in 2017 when they visited the Club.

I had the honour of interviewing our own Pat Shore MBE – one of the more than 100 women who have made a difference to the lives of women and children in the last 100 years of Soroptimism. Pat shared with us how she became a Soroptimist, her achievements and why she still is a Soroptimist after more than 25 years

President Val interviewing Pat Shore MBE

As I support the Trussell Trust during my term of office I was particularly interested in the presentation in the afternoon from the Trussell Trust. It is a stark fact that they have gone from providing 50,000 of food packages per annum ten years ago to nearly 2 million last year. We were delighted to receive £70 in sponsorship for our Trussell Trust Race Against Hunger. Thank you to Sandra J for manning our table.

Next Meeting

The next Regional Council Meeting is in June and will be held at Askam Grange Women’s Prison.  Our visit to the Prison is always enlightening. It is great news Soroptimist International President Maureen Maguire will be attending. I am sure we will find out more about her Appeal, ‘Opening Doors to a Bright Future’.

SI Richmond – Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Three of us, Nicola, Christabel, and myself enjoyed a very informative evening at the Holiday Inn, Scotch Corner, listening to Baroness Tanni (a member of SI Middlesbrough) talk about her life. From being born with spina-bifida, becoming involved in athletics and a para-Olympic champion to her journey to the House of Lords. It was a fascinating presentation about her determination, the support she had from her family and the restriction imposed on wheelchair users in terms of access to education and everyday life.  Thank you, Nicola, for doing the driving and your hospitality that made it possible for me to attend.

Dementia Forward

Dementia Forward is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. I was delighted to attend the Celebration in Burton Leonard with Maureen Ingleton on the 1st of April.  Dementia Forward is one of our key Programme Action Projects. Dementia Forward supports people with and those caring for someone with dementia. Maureen and Club members have been busy knitting buttercups, their emblem, for a garland knitting bomb to promote their work. Maureen has knit 200 buttercups – Wow.  Well done, Maureen. You are a ‘super knitter’.

Maureen and Val under the garland of knitted buttercups
Maureen with the buttercup railings

 Trussell Trust

Fantastic news. We raised over £700 for the Trussell Trust’s campaign to ‘Stop UK Hunger’ as the Soroptimist Striders walked 5 K.  Thank you to all those who have taken part and supported us. We had good fun too and enjoyed the morning sunshine.

My husband Jonathan and I also attended the centennial dinner for Rotary International as a guest of Harrogate Rotary Club on 2nd of April at the Majestic Hotel and SI Skipton’s Lunch on the 3rd April at Coniston Cold.

Looking forward to the AGM in April.