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In Memoriam

Laura Heath, SI Hertford & District, passed away recently after a long struggle with dementia. Club President 1994 – 1995.



Joan Pamphilon, SI Hertford & District, died on 11th July 2015 aged 95. A committed and active member for 37 years, Joan served as Club Secretary and latterly as our Birthday card correspondent.


KATHLEEN ANNE HOWARD, SI HERTFORD&DISTRICT died in February 2013 just short of her 90Th Birthday. A Soroptimist for over 20 years, Kathleen served as President 1990-1 and Secretary 1995-6. ***************************************************************************************************************

Audrey Randall,  SI Hertford & District, died on 4th July 2012, aged 83.  A loyal member for 30 years, Audrey was Club President 1988-89.

**************************************************************************************************************** Sylvia May Mear 5th July 1922 – 27th May 2010 Soroptimist From May 1967  SI Hertford & District Club President 1972 – 73; 1991 – 92; 1995 -96 SILC Regional President 1984 – 1985 As our local paper put it “Sylvia, Hertford’s community-loving ‘hero’, dies aged 87”.   Sylvia was a Hertford girl; she was born in Hertford, and went to school in Hertford.  She married Donald in 1943, they had one child, Valerie and they lived in Hertford. Sadly, Donald died in 2003 of dementia.  Sylvia was involved with setting up the community association at Sele Farm, championing the youth club and activities for the elderly. She was a school governor, Hertfordshire’s county chairman for Age Concern UK from 1979 to 1984 and a member of the governing body of Age Concern England, now Age UK, for many years.  She was also vice-chair of the Herts. Old People’s Welfare Council in the early 1980s.  In 2000 Sylvia received the East Herts. Council’s community award and in 2007 she was named a Hero of Hertford in the town churches’ search for unsung heroes.  In addition to all this Sylvia was a Soroptimist (as is her daughter Valerie).  If you met Sylvia and didn’t know about Soroptimism she would make sure you knew and, if you were female and a business or professional woman, Sylvia would also have made sure that you were invited to one of our Club meetings and quite probably before very long you would have become a Soroptimist.  There are stories of her meeting Soroptimist friends of yours at the other end of the country and coming back to Hertford knowing how to get in touch with you and if you were not already one, before long you too would be a Soroptimist.   Sylvia was a member of Hertford Soroptimist club from 1967 and, as you can imagine, that meant she held numerous offices within the club: she was President 3 times, club secretary for many years, and also the club representative to the Region, London Chilterns.  She was Regional President in 1984 – 85 and was rightly proud of her involvement in the London Chilterns Region. She also took on much other regional work including supporting and promoting ‘63′ and was constantly urging Hertford Club members to become more involved at the Regional level as she felt that this involvement led to a better understanding of Soroptimism.  She was a tireless supporter of Soroptimism; at our Regional meeting recently in Newbury we were reminded of the last meeting in Newbury, about 4 years ago, when, on one of the hottest days of the year, Sylvia had been knitting pink scarves and everyone was buying them to wear a few months later when Soroptimists turned the Millennium Bridge in Newcastle pink in support of the Breast Cancer Campaign. We have received so many tributes to Sylvia from sister clubs around the region and from clubs further afield but also from individuals, particularly about how inspirational she was to new Soroptimists and how she provided support at Club level and all the way through to Federation and International level; also of the many times when she was wonderfully kind and understanding of people’s problems. One event, organised by Sylvia, which must have been fantastic and the stories probably do not do it justice, was the fashion show she organised to raise money for Soroptimist charities, when she  managed to borrow some of the late Barbara Cartland’s clothes and hats, some club members were models. That truly must have been a superb occasion. Hertford Club also has Sylvia to thank for what is now an annual event in the programme, the frugal supper.  This was first held by Sylvia to raise money for UNICEF, to which she was Federation representative, as the horrors of the Romanian orphanages became clear. This year for the first time for many, many years SI Hertford & District held it’s AGM without Sylvia; Hertford Club has lost a true guide and a stalwart member but Soroptimism has lost a great ambassadress. Below are a few of the tributes to Sylvia received by the Club; “in the short time that I knew Sylvia, I think that she was a truly inspirational person” “Sylvia was a great inspiration to me when I was a very new member.  25 years ago (later this year) Sylvia just happened to visit our Club (then Reading & District) on the day that I was invested as a Soroptimist.  She had the Regional chain with her and passed it around the club for everyone to hold, and this made us all feel included in that distant thing – “The Region”.  She told me that evening that I would be wearing that chain in the future – and I did in 1992-93. Thank you, Sylvia, for being such a friendly and lovely person.” “The thing I remember about Sylvia is how she was always everywhere and doing everything!” “Sylvia was a true soroptimist.  She was one of the most influential people in the founding of SI Thames Valley and her support enabled the club to take its place in the London Chilterns Region. We remember her with gratitude.” “as a later member, I only met her at Region on one or two occasions to chat, but I know I found her such a nice person as I listened to some of the useful help and information she gave me as a new recruit” “Sylvia was a true Soroptimist who will be greatly missed” “Sylvia had been a close friend since the early 1970s and a significant part of my soroptimist life since that time.  When Federation president she was my conference chairman for the 1990 Jersey SIGBI Conference and was a great support at International level to me.  I know how much she will be missed by Hertford Soroptimists and the wider community” “When I first became a member, I hadn’t a clue what Soroptimists were all about but Sylvia kept on feeding things in and broadening my understanding. I was amazed at her knowledge – of protocol, of personnel and the Aims and, above all ‘Service’. This is certainly  what Sylvia based her life on and she was always ready to take up something new.” “My first encounter with Soroptimists was an invitation to a Frugal Supper in the September of Sylvia’s third presidential year, I subsequently became a member………. One of my first duties as President was to attend the annual Meeting and Civic Reception of Hertford Town Council . Sylvia was also attending wearing one of her other hats! At the reception held after the inauguration of the new Mayor, Sylvia was amazing – looking out for me, introducing me proudly to the many people she knew as her new president and proceeding to talk about Soroptimism and some of our forthcoming events. Our then Regional President, would have been well impressed by Sylvia’s capacity to fulfil her regional challenge  to GOSSIP  – go out and spread Soroptimism in public. When I last saw Sylvia she was taking a keen interest in all we had to tell her about Hertford and our Club. She approved of our succession plan and we hope that she gained some comfort from knowing that the future of the Club, to which she had given so much, was secure……. A sparkle in her eye, a ready smile, she always dressed smartly and took care over her appearance – certainly never being seen in public without her lippy!” “a walking directory of who, where, when and why for anything to do with Hertford, past & present.   Many members have known her for longer, and in a deeper way than I, but she just loved to be with people, to get really involved in anything and everything that was going on, or proposed, and her skill at organising or persuading people to do things was legendary! She was a Hertford girl through & through …..  She and Don were a great couple, complementary and complimentary, and had a marriage that lasted for must be well over 60 years I guess and after every Soroptimists meeting he was waiting for her down in the bar at Hertford Club, where a small group of others would join them for a sociable finish to our evenings.”