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2018/19 Events

Refill Project Speaker Meeting


The club hosted in April a talk by Erna Gotyar, a volunteer who is heading up the Refill Project in King’s Lynn.

Erna told the club that she had undertaken beach cleans, and from this has become involved in Refill, an award-winning national campaign to prevent plastic pollution and to make it easier to re-use and re-fill water bottles, rather than buy single use disposable plastic. The campaign works by connecting people looking for water with thousands of local businesses and public spaces where you can fill up for free.

In King’s Lynn, Marriott’s Warehouse, the Corn Exchange, Customs House, Cafe In the Walks, and Goldings have all joined in with the Scheme, as have many more businesses. The Mayor launched the project at the Farmers Market in September 2018 and it is going from strength to strength. There is an app that can be downloaded to help people find out which businesses are supporting this project.

Club president, Kim Bramham, said, “Erna delivered a very inspiring and interesting talk, which certainly gave us information to digest and made us think about our own practices. It is great that local businesses are embracing this initiative as we all become increasingly aware of the need to reduce single-use plastic. This shows that simple actions really can make a difference”

Afternoon Tea with David Palmer


The club held an Afternoon Tea with guest speaker, popular TV Auctioneer, David Palmer at The Ffolkes. The event was attended by around 45 people, and raised over £300 for the club’s chosen charity for 2018-19, Home-Start Norfolk.

David Palmer, who is well known for his TV appearances on programmes such as Flog it, Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic, regaled the audience with stories from his life as an auctioneer, and carried out valuations on objects that the audience had bought along.

Club president, Kim Bramham, said “David gave us a real insight into the world of auctions, and had the audience laughing as many of his anecdotes.

“We are delighted to have raised more money for Home-start Norfolk. Once again, we thank friends and family who supported this event – it was a pleasure to have an afternoon tea for such a worthy cause, and being joined by David Palmer made the event very special”


Samaritan’s Speaker Meeting


At the March speaker meeting members were given a fascinating insight into the history, organisation and the underlying philosophy of The Samaritans by two local volunteers, David and Jill.

In 1953 Chad Vara, a London clergyman took a funeral service for a 14 year old boy who had taken his own life and he became determined to do something about the unmet need he uncovered for distressed and depressed people to have someone to talk to. It was the Daily Mirror who wrote of him as “A Good Samaritan” and the name stuck.

The organisation now has 20,000 trained volunteers in 201 branches and is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. It receives a call every 6 seconds. These all come through a central control which can allocate them to the first available volunteer anywhere in the country. They now also take e-mails – which can come from anywhere in the world and are again filtered through a control centre to ensure that the caller cannot be identified.

The key to their approach is that they listen. They are non-religious and they do not advise. They listen as long as the caller wishes – David’s personal record was 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Most of their callers are distressed rather than actually suicidal but 16 people a day in the UK do take their own lives and the Samaritans are extending their prevention work. They now work in prisons, training volunteers among the prisoners to provide a service to their peers. They also train rail workers to recognise potential suicides – there is a suicide in the rail service every 32 hours – and they provide support for staff affected by rail deaths.

There is a constant need for more volunteers; callers often wait too long for an available volunteer. Training is lengthy and rigorous but both volunteers stressed that it is a hugely satisfying role and that there is always excellent support from fellow volunteers and regional supervisors.

There is also a constant need for funding as there is no government support and costs are £40,000 a year.

Women Aloud – International Women’s Day 2019


Women Aloud was an event that brought together a host of women’s organisations to celebrate International Women’s Day. This exciting event took place on Friday 8th March and Saturday 9th March 2019 in the beautiful Assembly Rooms of King’s Lynn Town Hall.

Soroptimist International of King’s Lynn has been fortunate as an organisation to have worked with many excellent charities and women’s organisations over the past years, and wanted to expand on that by hosting this event, which gave those attending a chance to network and get to know each other better.



For full details and photographs of the event please visit Women Aloud – IWD 2019 .

Soroptimist International of Kings Lynn members were very grateful for all the support received for the event and wish to express their thanks to everyone and in particular The Mayor of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Nick Daubney, for giving us the use of the public rooms of the Town Hall and for his presence during the two days of the event together with the Trustees of Audrey Muriel Stratford Charitable Trust for their financial support for the event.


Great Yarmouth Club International Women’s Day 2019

President Kim travelled across Norfolk to represent our club at SI Great Yarmouth’s IWD lunch, joining members from across the Region. SI Great Yarmouth held an excellent Sunday lunch event.

The founder and CEO of the Purple Community Fund Jane Walker MBE gave a very inspirational and emotional talk.

The event also launched SI Great Yarmouth’s Young Women’s Leadership Award in partnership with Rotary Club.



Holocaust Memorial Day


President Kim Bramham represented SI King’s Lynn at a ceremony to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday 27th January 2019, reading ‘No Man is an Island’ by John Donne.

The event took place at the Town Hall in King’s Lynn and was led by the Mayor of the Borough of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. The club has taken part in this annual event for several years.


Speaker meeting with Holly Canham from Action for Children


The club was pleased to welcome Holly Canham from East of England Action for Children to the January meeting. Holly explained that the charity had been founded by a Methodist pastor Thomas Bowman Stephenson in 1869 as the National Children’s Home to house abandoned and homeless children in London. Links with the Methodist church remain strong.

The work of the organisation has however changed steadily over the years. They do still run homes, mainly for disabled children, but also provide fostering and adoption services and support for homeless families and young people, and for young carers.

Women have played a key role in the organisation since 1878, Stephenson believing that the care of boys as well as girls was best carried out by properly trained and committed women comprising what became known as The Sisterhood.

Across the UK Action for Children is responsible for 550 services to a total of 300,000 clients. In East Anglia there are three homes for disabled children, 20 children’s centres and two homes for young people aged 18 – 25 with unstable family backgrounds, providing vital preparation for independent life and help to complete university education.

Many of the children’s centres are currently threatened with closure under government cuts as Action for Children does not own the buildings from which they work. It is hoped that alternative venues such as libraries and churches can be used for some of these.

Holly described some of their fundraising activities including a very successful “pop-up” shop in Norwich for high quality second hand clothing.

Speaker meeting with Briony Bax


The club welcomed two special local women to their December meeting.

Josephine Reynolds was the UK’s first female fire-fighter and will be the main speaker at a special event that the club is hosting on 8th and 9th March 2019 to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The speaker for the meeting was Briony Bax, chair of trustees for the Saidia Children’s Charity in Kenya. Saidia – which means “Help” in Swahili – was founded by Briony’s aunt Anne Michell and her friend Jill Simpson.

Briony started by giving some interesting statistics on Kenya. It is a country of 51 million people undergoing rapid growth and development. Life expectancy has gone from 57 to 67 in the last 10 years but it is still a very young country with 42% of the population under 14. There are nearly 2 million orphans, almost half of them orphaned by AIDS. 6% of the population are HIV+ve, half of them undiagnosed.

Anne grew up in Kenya where her father was a civil engineer and Jill had worked there as a nurse. In 2002, already grandmothers, the two of them treked across the Turkana desert, raising enough money to build a children’s home in Gilgil, a town two hours north of Nairobi. Situated on a major truck route to Uganda and with a large military base nearby, Gilgil has a large red light district and a very high incidence of HIV and of Aids orphans.

The home caters for 60 children, taking in those who have nowhere else to go and giving them a home until they are 18. The children are raised as a family, helping with domestic tasks and the care of the youngest children, and working during holidays on the associated farm which grows much of their food. Their basic education is funded and the brightest are put through High school and University. There is an annual reunion and lunch for graduates of the home, now independent members of the community.

More recently the charity has also started a pre-school for 100 children in Bondeni, in the middle of the red light district. Some of these are second generation street children and at weekends life skills are taught to their mothers.

Funding comes from donors in both the UK and the US and is used to pay staff and school fees. Needed items are purchased locally as donated items are often stolen at Customs. A group of volunteers also go out annually to help with practical and administrative tasks during the school holidays. One of their most valued contributions is providing the children with photographs – giving them a personal history. They also take all the children on an annual outing.

Jo and Briony are seen here with President Kim Bramham and the club’s annual Christmas collection for the Foodbank and the Purfleet Trust.


Christmas Tree Festival at St Faith’s Church

Members from the club once again took part in the Christmas Tree Festival at St Faith’s Church, Gaywood, by decorating a tree with Soroptimist-themed decorations that celebrate the events and activities that the club has been involved in over the past year.


Annual Literary Lunch with Chris Collett


Soroptimist International of King’s Lynn held their annual Literary Lunch at the Ffolkes Arms, Hillington on 18th November 2018. The event was attended by around 60 people, and raised £850 for the club’s chosen charity for 2018-19, Home-Start Norfolk.

Critically acclaimed author Chris Collett, the creator of the DI Tom Mariner series, was the speaker, telling the audience about her journey to becoming an author, from working with children who have autism spectrum disorder, to thinking about a story where the sole witness was on the autism spectrum, and how that eventually led to a series of detective novels.

Chris grew up in Gorleston, Norfolk and is now based in Birmingham, where the novels are set.

Soroptimist International King’s Lynn president, Kim Bramham, said “over recent years when holding this event, we have heard from authors about how difficult it is to get a start in the literary world. Chris took us through the ups and downs she has faced, in an amusing and interesting talk.

We were very pleased to welcome Chris to this event, and are delighted to have raised so much money for Home-start. Once again, we thank friends and family who supported this event – we are already making plans for next year’s Literary Lunch!”


Speaker meeting with Amanda Murr


Our scheduled speaker for November was Lorne Green, Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner, but he was unfortunately unwell so his place was taken by Amanda Murr.

Amanda said that she had spent a long time in the constabulary before moving to the Commissioner’s office where she was responsible for a range of services involving those classed as vulnerable.

Lorne’s report listed the recent PCC achievements which had led to the service being rated excellent in a recent inspection.
There is a Police and Crime plan which forms the basis for PCC activity. Lorne’s priorities have included improving the use of technology. Officers now use tablets for keeping notes and accessing intelligence databases. Drones are increasingly used for surveillance and ANPR – automatic number-plate recognition – is a very important tool.

Increased funding has been secured for domestic abuse work and innovative support projects are being developed. A great deal of work is also being done to reduce rates of re-offending, offering diversion from the criminal justice system to a support programme for vulnerable women and improving employment opportunities for ex-offenders.

Lorne is however very concerned about the rising rates of assault on police and emergency service staff. Increased knife crime – much of it related to the drug trade and “county lines” is also a worry.

Amanda talked about the growing difficulty and complexity of Domestic Abuse work. A recent home office report showed a 60% shortfall in refuge places and it was essential to obtain ring-fenced money for domestic abuse. The recent recognition of “coercive control” as a form of abuse was welcomed but has substantially increased the workload.

Hate crime: There are seven dedicated engagement officers working in this area in Norfolk and a dedicated fund has been set up to encourage reporting. The profile of perpetrators is surprising. The highest incidence of hate crime is in Norwich, 50% of cases relate to race and the highest numbers of both victims and perpetrators are 30 – 50 year old men.

“County Lines” is the organised crime exploitation of children to distribute drugs from London to provincial towns. It is effectively a form of human trafficking. Children of 13 – 14 or sometimes younger are recruited, moved from their own area to other parts of the country and used to run drugs. It is a signifcant problem in Norfolk. Vulnerable children are particularly targeted and horrific violence is used to ensure their silence and continued compliance.

The public needs to be made more aware of the warning signs such as children who go missing, who suddenly become secretive or act out of character, start using drug or gang related language or have unexplained money.

Amanda was warmly thanked for an extremely informative talk.


Christen Williams – Domestic Abuse Change Co-ordinator


The speaker for the club’s October meeting was Christen Williams, the Domestic Abuse Change Co-coordinator for North, East and Broadland.

Christen started with a Quiz for members to complete covering statistics and Domestic Abuse. The statistics were quite frightening, 2 women are killed a week in the UK by a partner or ex-partner, with 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic abuse at some time in their life. It is not only women who are subject to domestic abuse, 22 men were killed each year by a female partner or ex-partner.

Domestic abuse is caused by power and control issues and Christen explained to the group the cycle of abuse and how prevention can be used to reduce domestic abuse with the cycle of change. The county is committed to reducing Domestic Violence, including an increasing number of Domestic Abuse Change Champions.

The much published Gas Lighting abuse was explained as well as the impact of domestic abuse on children.


SIGBI Conference, Liverpool 2018



Eight club members went to Liverpool for the federation conference this year. We were spread across four hotels and were arriving/departing at different times but generally managed to find each other for the important bits (conference sessions and eating), as well as meeting up with old friends. It was however very difficult to get all 8 members together for a photo!


The conference centre – the ACC – was a very spacious venue which made moving around and visiting the exhibition stalls much easier than is sometimes the case, and the location was fabulous for sightseeing. About 1200 Soroptimists were gathered from the 28 countries of the Federation – many familiar faces from other clubs. Some of us were also very pleased to meet up with Anu Wakhlu, who is our current friendship correspondent from SI Pune and is also President of SI India for the next 2 years.



Conference highlights


We had some very good speakers this year. Two that stood out for entertainment value were Sally Kettle (who rowed the Atlantic with her mother – now there’s an idea!) and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, with his extraordinary tales of polar expeditions – who would have thought that his descriptions of starvation diets and frostbite would have his audience roaring with laughter!

There was a thought-provoking presentation from Emily Rose Yates who has pioneered the cause of accessible travel. Following a stint as a Gamesmaker for the 2012 Olympics, Emily was invited to Rio, to advise on the underground transport system, producing the Lonely Planet Guide: Accessible Rio de Janeiro.

Emily was followed by Terry Waite who after surviving 5 years as a hostage in the Lebanon in 1986, mainly in solitary confinement, has devoted his life to lecturing and writing about his experiences, charitable work and the promotion of humanitarian principles. Ellie Bird Lenawarungu , a retired senior police officer, described her work in Africa on the empowerment of women and the creation of the Amuka Foundation. Dr Helen Pankhurst spoke about the legacy of her suffragette grandmother (Sylvia) and great-grandmother (Emmeline) and women’s rights. Other speakers were Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, founder of 28 Too Many, and SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen.

Speaker sessions were interspersed by presentations of Programme Projects including the Kori Project which has involved many clubs in the federation including ours. A presentation on Toilet Twinning highlighted a simple but effective way of improving lives, especially those of women and girls, by providing safe sanitation – £60 provides for a toilet hut and the donor receives a photo of the new toilet and its GPS location to hang on their loo wall (how about that as a Christmas present idea? See ).

The above is just a short summary for the weekend, If you would more details please visit SIGBI Conference Liverpool 2018.



SERV speaker meeting


At our September meeting the speaker was Iain Grimes of SERV (Service by Emergency Response Volunteers) – Norfolk Blood Bikes.

Iain gave the club a fascinating insight into the history of SERV Norfolk and what its volunteers do. Launched in Norfolk in 2011, it provides a service to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn and also to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and James Paget Hospital. Everybody involved with SERV Norfolk is a volunteer, of which there are 110. They have ten motorbikes and four cars. All the vehicles have been provided to the charity with funding from individuals and various organisations. It costs £3,800 a year to keep one bike on the road. They provide a service from 7.00pm to 7.00am every night of the year, all weekends and all bank holidays. They collect and deliver blood platelets and plasma between the various hospitals and travel as far as Addenbrokes in Cambridge, which is the central East Anglia blood storage facility, and have been known to arrange the delivery of samples to Collingdale in North London when urgent diagnosis is needed.

In recent years, SERV has moved into delivering donor milk to save sick or premature baby. The number of jobs they have been asked to do has increased. In 2017 the number was 1,016.

Iain is very passionate about what he does. He has been a volunteer rider since 2011 and paid tribute not only to all the volunteers, including the fund raisers etc who keep the organisation on the road, but also to the support received from families. SERV are always looking for new volunteers and details can be found on their website

The club was most impressed by what SERV Norfolk Blood Bikes does in our local community, something which many of us had probably not realised before, or at least the extent of the work which they do.


World Snail Racing Championship

The work to attract new members and raise awareness of the club took a much slower than usual turn when members attended the World Snail Racing Championship. The World Snail Racing Championship is part of a Fete held at Congham, near King’s Lynn.

In order to make a mark, SI King’s Lynn entered Susan, a fine locally-reared snail. Susan, named in honour of Federation President Susan Biggs, performed well in very hot conditions, coming first in her heat, and second in the final. Snail Master Neil Riseborough constantly referred to the Soroptimists during the final race.

The stand was busy all afternoon, with lots of people dropping by to find out more about Soroptimist International, our aims and activities.

With thanks to Congham Fete for including SI King’s Lynn in the event.

Charter Lunch


The club held their annual Charter Lunch at Congham Hall in July. The lunch was enjoyed by club members together with guests from other clubs and friends.

Sarah Beale, Chief Executive of CITB was guest speaker at the lunch which celebrated 43 years of the club based in King’s Lynn, sharing some of her experiences as a woman working at a senior level in the construction industry.

Sarah spoke about the importance of encouraging a diverse workforce in the industry, and told the audience that construction presents many exciting careers options for a diverse range of people.

SI King’s Lynn President Kim Bramham said ‘we were delighted that Sarah was able to attend our lunch – as an organisation that works to improve the lives of women and girls in particular, not only was Sarah’s own experience very interesting to us, but also the message from Sarah that the construction industry has opened its doors and that there really is a variety of exciting careers available to women and girls – so please come and find out more!”



Public Speaking Competition


Primary Schools from across the King’s Lynn area met at King’s Lynn Academy on Thursday 14th June 2018 to battle it out in the 10th annual Public Speaking Competition run by Soroptimist International of King’s Lynn.

Groups of three Year 6 pupils from each of the six participating schools presented their arguments – wowing the judges with their eloquent and informative presentations North Wootton Academy triumphed for the second year in a row. In a very well researched presentation on Environmental Sustainability, they passionately emphasised the need to change the future of transport by exploring alternatives to fossil fuels before reminding the audience that OUR FEET ARE THE BEST KIND OF TRANSPORT OF ALL!

The school was represented by Nancy Harvey, Kinza Aisha Azam and Cheuk Fung Sham. Vice Principal James Grimsby re-emphasised that Speaking in public is such an important skill for the pupils to master and how pleased he was that the team had retained the Shield. A cheque for £100 and the Benita Haynes Shield, in memory of a former member of the Soroptimist International King’s Lynn was presented by Tim Haynes, Benita’s son.

Elanor Westbury, Vice President of King’s Lynn Academy, on behalf of the judging panel praised the ability of all of the year 6 pupils in researching their subject matter and the use of great emotive techniques and rhetorical questions in their presentations making it difficult to come to a final decision.

Whitefriars Church of England Primary Academy were again runners up and were presented with their prize & medals by Kim Bramham – President of Soroptimist International King’s Lynn. Their presentation was on Violence and Conflict Resolution and the best way to resolve arguments in schools. The judges made special mention of the inclusion of sign-language throughout the presentation.

Third place this year went to Greyfriars Academy speaking about Learning Opportunities and the impact of smartphones and tablets on children. Deputy Mayor Geoff Hipperson presented their prize and medals.
As this was our 10th anniversary each of the winning schools also received a cup which they could keep and display in their trophy cabinets.


Parkinson UK talk


Following the Sponsored Walk and Afternoon Tea which has resulted in a donation of £1465 to Parkinson’s UK, the charity’s Regional Fundraiser Becky Redmond, spoke to the club about the work of Parkinson’s UK.

Every 2 hours, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is rarely directly inherited, is not contagious and it is not known why or how people get Parkinson’s. Across the UK, there are 145,000 people with Parkinson’s – around 1 in 350 people. In Norfolk, there are 250 people under 65, and a total of 2,100 people with Parkinson’s – these are across a range of ages, genders and ethnicities.

The effects of Parkinson’s vary, with the mental illness side less talked about. Becky told the club that the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells means that symptoms appear and develop over years. Parkinson’s UK seek solutions; there is no cure, but symptoms can be treated in various ways, such a medication, physiotherapy and more recently deep brain stimulation (or DBS) has been developed as surgery used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms.

There is currently a campaign – Get it on Time – to raise awareness of the importance of hospitals and care homes giving people their medication at times that best suit them.

The charity has three key messages, which are also their slogan – Change attitudes; Find a cure; Join us.
Becky told the club about the people who work to support people with Parkinson’s, such as nurses who offer support and may refer to other sources of help; local advisers who can assist with claiming benefits, listen to problems and answer questions; volunteer educators who train people. All are working to ensure better treatment and a cure faster, supporting research to that end.

The charity has spent £75million since 1965 on research. The aim is that by looking at new drugs and treatments, or research into the hidden benefits of existing drugs, a cure may be found in years rather than decades. The Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank is the world’s only brain bank solely dedicated to Parkinson’s research, using tissue from those who do not and do have Parkinson’s – there are around 6000 donors at present, and people can specify their wishes in their will.

There are 43 local groups in the East of England, run by volunteers. The newly launched initiative Parkinson’s Links offers mutual support and a chance to link up with other people.

The Parkinson’s UK website has lots of detail on the above.


Young Carers support Global Blanket Campaign


Following on from the very successful International Women’s Day Event in March 2018 when 60 squares were made for the Global Blanket Campaign members from Soroptimist International of King’s Lynn joined a Young Carers social meeting.

At the meeting, some of the group joined in to make squares for the Global Blanket Campaign which Soroptimist members have been supporting to draw attention for the need for transparency in supply chains.

The group were interested to learn about the Campaign and that not all clothing and companies can categorically state that none of their products are made by children; by people working in unsafe conditions or in conditions of modern day slavery.”


Sponsored Walk and Afternoon Tea



The first event of Kim’s year as President was a sponsored walk and afternoon tea raising funds for Parkinson’s UK.

After a very cloudy start to the day on the 13th May it turned into a lovely sunny afternoon perfect for the 5k walk, which had been carefully planned by Kim and her husband Robert around Roydon and Congham. Everyone enjoyed the scenery along the route as well as the walk.




A well earned tea followed the walk, with less energetic members and neighbours attending the tea as well. Over £155 was raised from the raffle and the day overall will have raised over £1,000 once all the sponsorship money is collected. An amazing start to the year and thanks to everyone who  helped the day by walking, sponsoring, making cakes or joining us for the afternoon tea.


Earth Day Event 2018



Members from the club supported the annual Earth Day event in St Nicolas Chapel in King’s Lynn.

The event was well attended by the Public and very well organised with food, drink and entertainment as well as a number of stalls..