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President’s Blog – September

Welcome to my September/ October Blog,

Cost of Living Crisis

Thank you to Club Members who’ve donate blankets/throws/ hot water bottles, flasks and hats for the Harrogate District Food Bank. I know this will help make a difference. People are already struggling to get by and though the energy cap will help, some of them will still have to make a choice between heat and eat.

5 Ladies and a bus call Bertha

I know that many of us where shocked at the death of HM The Queen on the 8th September. The news had just been released as I travelled with Jennifer to the Knaresborough Library to listen to Sue Williams reading from her newly published book. There was a good Soroptimist turn out and it was an enjoyable evening. We are looking forward to the next instalment.

A few of us raised our glasses later to her Majesty and to our new King Charles – though the Toast will take a while to get used to!

Racing Against Hunger –  The Great North Run

Maureen’s fantastic achievement of walking 13 ½ mile on the 11th September, as one of 60,000 participants in the Great North Run, has raised £800 including gift aid that will go straight to the Harrogate District Food Bank.  I received a lovely email from Dawn at the Food Bank congratulating Maureen and the Club for all their support. I know Maureen was disappointed not to have completed the Run in under 3 hours but considering the average human walks at a pace of 3 miles an hour – that was some going!

The Yorkshire Region Council Meeting

The Regional Council Meeting and Regional AGM took place on the 17th in Barnsley. It was the last meeting in the Regional Year as the change of office takes place at the Federation Conference later this month.  I was delighted to give the vote of thanks to President Lindsay and the Yorkshire Executive.  Lindsey has had an excellent year. The first full year since Covid restrictions stopped us meeting face to face.
Each year the President and the Programme Action Leads look at all the Programme Focus Reports that Clubs complete and make an award for the best project. We heard presentations from the three short listed projects.
President Lindsay  then made a special Award. were delighted to find out that our Club had been chosen for the commitment we have shown to Toilet Twinning.Toilet Twinning.  I am so glad Sue Williams was present to accept the award. It’s a great achievement for the Toilet Twinning team and Club members.

SI Hallamshire’s Charter Lunch

The next day I wended my way down the M1 to SI Hallamshire’s lunch. It was a lovely day and held in a beautiful setting. It was great to meet up with Soroptimists from their friendship link in Sutton Coldfield – the former Club of one of our member Denyse Hyatt.

Retired Members Coffee Club Lunch

The Royal Oak in Staveley provided the perfect venue for lunch for the ‘Retired Members’ Club.  It was a lovely afternoon and a great chance to sit and natter. Thank you Sheree for organising our get together. The Coffee Club meets every 2ndWednesday in the month at 10 am at Ripley Castle Tea Rooms.

Mayor Making in Knaresborough

On the 22nd Christabel and I attended the Mayor Making in Knaresborough. It was attended by the Harrogate Mayor as well as other local mayors and the Wetherby Mayor.  We met a young woman called Jess who works for Inspire Youth.  I hope she will come to one of our meetings to talk about the work Inspire Youth does working with 8-18 year olds. There may be some links to Share our Skills.

Who do you think you are?

Thank you for your feedback from my presentation to the Club on the speaker night. For those of you not there I spoke about my family tree and the links to slavery.  My great grandmother was born on Saint Helena. A small island in the South Atlantic famous for the incarceration and death of Napoleon.  The island, of key importance to the British East India Company, was settled by the British.  It was a time  before the abolition of slavery.

I found out that my great grandmother, born in 1868, was descended from a slave called Mercury. The name of the ship he came on from Bengal. My research identified the realities of slavery in Saint Helena and the ‘Bitter Draft’ of the abolition of slavery  on the enslaved themselves.

So how can you help future genealogists  – My late mother completed a Grandparents Book that I found very helpful about her life and key moments. Similar books are available from bookshops and Amazon.

Resurrected Bites and Syrian Refugees

As some of you know, I volunteer at Resurrected Bites  at the Gracious Street Chapel most Fridays. It is a place where the ‘regulars’ come to get a good meal and discounted food. I was pleased to meet Jenny Treveener there.  Jenny and I used to work together at Harrogate District Hospital. She is now is very involved in supporting Syrian refugees at the Harrogate District of Sanctuary and she was with some of the ladies who are from Syria.
Jenny introduced me to one of the ladies who Club member Sandra J knows very well. Sandra has been supporting her for the last 3 years. The lady was singing Sandra’s praises. She took a selfie of us together to send to Sandra.  Sandra sent me a lovely photo a couple of days later of them both  busy baking scones.

National Memorial Arboretum

Our trip to the National Memorial Arboretum was a truly wonderful day. A very big thank you to Janet H who did a fantastic job in organising the day with the Arboretum and the coach travel. There were many memorable bits of it for me. The chapel with its amazing carvings where we heard about the history of the Memorial Arboretum.  The tree, dedicated to Ann Frank, that is never allowed to mature.
We were disappointed that the Soroptimist International Memorial is broken and away to be mended but the garden it sits in surrounded by trees dedicated to the Federation and our members was peaceful.

The ‘Shot at Dawn’ memorial also lingers in my mind. We were delighted to welcome members from Ilkeley and Dewsbury as well as Soroptimisters and friends. The Memorial, run by the British Legion, is well worth a visit.

I am looking forward to October. The plans for our 89th Anniversary Charter Lunch at Goldsborough Hall on the 16th are well in hand and in the capable hands of Maureen.
It will be Yorkshire President Lindsay’s last event before she hands over the chain of office in Belfast. I am really looking forward to going to Belfast on the 27th October for the Federation Conference.  It has been 3 years since the last conference so there will be a lot of catching up to do with Soroptimists from Yorkshire and all over the Federation.

Val Hills