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President’s Blog – December

Happy New Year. I hope you have all kept well and enjoyed our Christmas break. December certainly was a very busy time for me.  As I am sure it was for many of you.

Charity Shop Window Competition

It started with our fabulous evening to celebrate the Best Dressed Shop Windows in Harrogate District. We were delighted to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress Councillor Trevor and Janet Chapman.  The charity shops across our district made a great effort with Saint Michael’s Charity Shop in Ripon the overall winner

It was lovely to receive Club member’s  Christmas cards and encouraging  comments. Thank you for those who chose to make donation in lieu of cards. In total £105 was donated for the Trussell Trust/ Food Banks and £50 for Toilet Twinning.  Thank you very much.  I am pleased to say that we already had sufficient money to give a donation of £300 to Harrogate and Knaresborough Food Bank.  The money was used to support hamper items for 30 families. We have also donated £100 to Ripon Food Support (formerly Bread for Life).  Maureen also donated 20 surplus Terry’s chocolate oranges that we gave to Resurrected Bites who are happy to receive unboxed but wrapped items of food.

Gill Smith Shield and Trophy

Since my last report I had the pleasure of presenting Katherine Hubbard with the Gill Smith Shield for Best Girl Improver at the Spa Tennis Club on the 24th November.  It is lovely way to remember Gill, a great fan and player of tennis. Gill’s legacy still lives on as I was also delighted to present the Gill Smith Cup for the Best Dressed Charity Shop Window in Wetherby to the Dogs Trust on 21 December. The presentation was made outside the shop due to last minutes changes because of Covid and the use of indoor events.  I would like to thank Maureen for organising the event at the tennis Club also Hilary, Elsie, and Heather for organising the Charity Shop Window Competition in Wetherby.

Wetherby Christmas Market

These events just don’t happen, and Maureen was busy again organising the Lions Wetherby Dickens Christmas Market Stall as well as providing a great deal of the wonderful, knitted items that were for sale. Thank you to all the members who provided items to sell and manned the stall on the 12th December. We raised £266 for Club Charities and the local Food Banks.

Christmas Party

And, talking of events – didn’t we have a fabulous Christmas party on the 15th?  Liz Stickney and her team of Elves served us well.  There was fun, music and much laughter. We are always well looked after at Ascot House.  Well done Liz and her great team of helpers. Lesley Berry, the Poet of Yorkshire, entertained us with her latest Elfish poem.  I loved my Secret Santa present so thank you Secret Santa – you know who you are but I don’t!


Janet Haywood

A much more sombre day followed on the 16th December when I represented the Club and Soroptimist International at Janet Haywood’s funeral. Heather Shipman conducted the service. Her words caught the essence of who Janet was.  There were only five of us the service and I look forward to when we can have the service of thanksgiving to celebrate Janet’s live.  We shared  the video at the Club meeting of Sandra Frier’s interview with Janet last year in recognition of her being selected as one of the One-hundred significant Soroptimists in the organisation’s history over the last 100 years.


Stride Out Walking Group

What better way to use up some of those extra calories consumed over Christmas than a beautiful walk around the Harewood Estate with our Stride Out Walking group on 3rd January. Thank you, Heather Goodall, for planning such an excellent route with fabulous views and a rainbow too. We are so lucky to have some fabulous walks so near at hand.

Regional Council Meeting

One of the great things about being a Soroptimist is being part of an international organisation with shared values.  You really get a sense of this when you attend SI Yorkshire’s Regional Council Meetings (RCMs). The meeting, held on  4th December was the first opportunity to welcome our new Regional President Lindsay Green. It was an excellent meeting and Judith will be reporting back on it.  I encourage all our new members to attend RCMs. It is always a good day out. A time to chat and get to know other members and also meet members from other Clubs across Yorkshire. It also broadens our knowledge about Programme Action and the wider work we do to make a difference.  The latest edition of Soroptimist News is out now so get the App if you can and haven’t done so already or visit the SIGBI website


January can seem a dark and long month but already the days are getting longer.  We have plenty to look forward including the launch of our Toilet Twinning Project. Fingers Crossed the we can continue to meet Face to Face as well as on Zoom.

In the meantime, stay well and I look forward to seeing you in life or on zoom.

Val Hills

President, SI Harrogate and District