Celebrating International Women’s Day Across the world thousands of Soroptimists marked International Women’s Day with hundreds of activities and events on and around 8 March. In some countries just gathering like this puts their lives at risk. Events highlight the economic, political and social achievements of women, and raise awareness of work still to be done to build a better world for women and girls. The life of one of our founder members Dr Kathleen Rutherford MBE Soroptimist International of Harrogate and District celebrated this very special day on the 4th March. Club member Rachel Richardson gave a fascinating presentation about the life of our founder President Dr Kathleen Rutherford MBE & Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Harrogate Town. A woman who devoted much of her life to working with disadvantaged people both nationally and globally. Rachel also managed to track down a
Club President Sandra Frier address: It is an honour to be the President for Soroptimist International of Harrogate & District for 2020-21. Although our AGM was not the usual formal Presidential handover of chain of office and celebration, eighteen of our members joined our virtual AGM on Zoom. We raised a toast to all our members as well as outgoing and incoming officers. We look forward to a time for celebration on a much larger scale when all our members can meet together again and we can return to a new ‘normal’. As a Club we are finding ways to communicate and look after each other. In the first week of lockdown our priority was to put a buddy system in place, whereby a team of Soroptimists regularly contact all of us to find out how we are and making sure none of our members
Harrogate and District Soroptimsits had a very busy run up to Christmas including the judging of our own Charity Shop Christmas Shop Window Competition in Harrogate Borough and Wetherby as well as supporting Harrogate Rotary Club judge the Commercial Shops in Harrogate Town Centre. We supported the Wetherby Lions Christmas Market and raised over £200 for our Charities and had fun and laughter at our Christmas Party held at Ascot House Hotel in Harrogate. Some of us were also able to squeeze in a lovely Mulled Wine and Mince pie morning at member Christabel England’s home to raise funds for our joint project to help build a school library with SI Blantyre in Malawi. And not forgetting our Christmas party for our Contact the Elderly Group (now known as Re-Engage). The Mayor of Harrogate Borough Cllr. Stuart Martin MBE and Club President Mrs Sylvia Purser
Four Club members were able to attend a fabulous, thought provoking Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland Conference in Bournemouth. President Sue Williams theme was ‘Think on it’ and we certainly did. Great speakers including Baroness Susan Greenfield, Dr Leyla Hussein and Katy – a young woman who shared her experience of severe anxiety mental health problems and how visiting Zambia and meeting up with another 14-year old and the issues she faced regarding personal safety due to lack of toilets led to her involvement with Toilet Twinning and paid a significant part in her journey to improve her mental health. She received a standing ovation. An impromtu collection for small change raised over £1000 for Tiolet Twinning. The theme was mental health and we certainly turned the room Green – the colour of mental health awareness. It was also a fantastic opportunity to
Presidents Sylvia and Sue attended the main Harrogate Cenotaph Remembrance service and the service organised by Harrogate Rotary Brigantes at the Commonwealth War Graves at Stonefall, Harrogate. They laid wreaths on behalf of Club members. Club members also took part in other civic wreath laying ceremonies in Ripon, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge and Wetherby. LEST WE FORGET – the sacrifice made by so many. For our tomorrow they gave their today.
Keeping Harrogate and District Borough ‘Blooming’ is down to Sue Wood and her industrious team. Sue gave us a real insight into ‘Park Life’. Sue is the Horticultural Officer for Harrogate Borough Council. She curates many of the fantastic displays residents and visitors see in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, Pateley Bridge, Masham and Boroughbridge. beautiful floral public spaces brings joy to the soul. The parks and The Stray provide places where people can exercise, have fun and enjoy sport. Over 3 million people visit the Valley Gardens every year – Sue knows this because there is an electronic counter system at the entrances. Sue gave us a look behind the scenes at the busy nursery at Harlow Hill and her industrious team who work so hard from cutting the grass on the Stray to planting out the fantastic displays. A very enlightening evening. We also
At the Club AGM held in April 2019 at our new meeting place, the Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate, we celebrated 155 years of service to Soroptimist SIGBI. Janet Hutton. 40 years, Judith Webb, Hilary Waddington, Nicola Harding (not shown) all 30 years and Liz Stickney 25 years. We were delighted that Soroptimist International of Yorkshire Region’s President Pat Kilbane was able to join us to present the long service certificates.
Friday and Saturday nights see a transformation in many towns and cities across the UK as the pubs and clubs fill with people out for a good night out – but for some it will end in drunkenness, fights and possible sexual assault. Paul Blakey MBE witnessed what was happening in his hometown of Halifax in 2005 and decided to do something about it. Paul was the guest speaker at our September meeting. He is the pioneer founder of Street Angels and now the National Coordinator. Paul started the project in Halifax and following its amazing success has supported other towns to follow suit. Paul works closely with the Police, Churches and other voluntary organisations identifying and supporting vulnerable people of all ages who run into difficulties on out local streets. His success has also led to requests from music festivals such as the Leeds Festival to
What makes someone abandon their home and travel across land and sea in often dangerous and unknown conditions for a hopefully better future? Sleman Shwaish, Refugee Coordinator for the British Red Cross gave us an insight by sharing his story as our guest speaker at the May meeting. Sleman, Kurdish in origin is from Quamish in NE Syria. He studied in Aleppo as an agricultural engineer but fled to the UK in 2012 after being forcibly conscripted to join the Army as the war took hold and started to ravage what had been a beautiful country. Sleman could not countenance fighting or killing his own people and had to make the difficult decision to leave his parents, his father a Pharmacist and his mother an English teacher. Sleman travelled illegally through Turkey and Iraq eventually ending up in London, where he claimed and was granted asylum.
Soroptimist International of Harrogate and District held our Annual General Meeting at the White Hart Hotel, Harrogate on the 18th April. We were delighted to welcome Soroptimist Internantional of Yorkshire Region President Chris Clark. Outgoing President Nicola Harding thanked Club members for all their support throughout the year and was pleased to announce that the Club had raised £2000 to help purchase a commercial dishwasher for the Renal Unit at Harrogate District hospital as well as raising £1250 for the Alzheimer’s Society and increasing the member’s knowledge about dementia with some becoming Dementia Friends. The Club has also achieved its target of raising £3000 for the Meru Women’s Garden Project in Kenya. Nicola then passed the President’s chain of office on to Hilary Waddington and Elsie Johnston who will be sharing the role this year. The Club were also delighted to celebrate the long