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Soroptimist International - Kings Lynn

Soroptimist International of Kings Lynn is part of a worldwide organisation of women, which is linked to the United Nations.

Literary Lunch

Members of the club, along with friends, held the first Literary Lunch since 2019.

We raised over £230, which will be sent to our sister club SI Krakow, who continue their work to support Ukrainian refugees.

Pictured are club President, Marion Coleman and Jill Bennett, who along with Elizabeth James have written A Norfolk Rhapsody, Ralph Vaughan Williams in King’s Lynn. This book is a detailed and beautiful account of the famous composer’s visit to King’s Lynn, and in particular the North End, where he undertook work to collect the fishing community’s traditional songs.

Queen’s Jubilee fundraising stall

On Sunday 5th June 2022 – The Walks King’s Lynn,  members of the club held a fundraising and Soroptimist awareness stall to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee – we sold hand-crafted items and plant to raise funds to assist our Soroptimist sisters in Krakow to help the refugees fleeing into Poland from Ukrainian.  We raised just under £100.






Visit to Dersingham Bog

Members of the club recently enjoyed an informative guided walk around Dersingham Bog, a National Nature Reserve on the Sandringham Estate at Wolferton, near King’s Lynn.

Senior Reserve Manager Tom Bolderstone of Natural England led a group of members, friends and family through this beautiful nature reserve, telling us about the 3 distinct habitats that make up this reserve: mire, heath & woodland.  Tom talked us through some of the plants that can be found in this unique environment, such as the rare bog asphodel,  explaining the impact of building developments that may be miles away and the pressures that nature reserves face with increased footfall as a result of so many of us holidaying locally over the past two years.  
As well as hearing our first Cuckoo of the year, we also saw a Green Woodpecker (quite a small bird to make such a lot of noise!), a Stonechat, so called because its song sounds like two stones tapping together, and a Great Tit.  
This walk was a follow up to a talk that Tom gave the club during lockdown, when we could only meet via zoom.  It was great to meet Tom in such a glorious setting – some of us with inside jobs might have been a bit jealous of his working environment on such a glorious day! Tom mentioned that a lot of the conservation work that is being undertaken on the reserve is completed by volunteers alongside the rangers – there is such a range of work to be done, from working outside to helping in the office.  To volunteer or request a guided walk, email Tom at

Holocaust Services

The Club is very pleased to support the annual Holocaust Service in King’s Lynn, held in  Tower Gardens in January 2022..  President Julie read No Man is an Island as part of the service, with several members attending the service.

Remembrance Day Services

Representatives of the club attend the Remembrance Day Service, laying a wreath in Tower Gardens.  In 2022, Julie Williams and Marion Coleman honoured to lay a wreath on behalf of the club at the Remembrance Day Service, and in 2020 with a virtual service, they continued their support from a distance. It is an honour to participate, and a humbling experience to witness so many brave veterans and their families, numerous local charities and organisations, including young children coming together with the single aim of remembering the fallen.


Bookworms 2022

In light of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID, members have not been able to enjoy their usual round of events, so have looked at different ways to socialise.  A very successful book club has been created – members split into groups of 6 (so that they may be able to meet depending on the situation). Bookworms members meet monthly and talk about the books they have read – topics have included Out of Step, Desert Island Reads, Across the Pond and Regional Crime.  Members share their thoughts – good and not-so-good!  This has resulted in some fun coffee mornings over zoom and will surely continue beyond COVID!


London Anglia Regional Meeting

Members of the club joined a zoom meeting with members from across the region

Felicity Borwick and Lynda Cornish presented the Suffolk Women’s Voices gender equality quilt. The quilt was made in 2018 to commemorate 100 years of Women’s Votes. Fabrics and embellishments were provided and the contributors demonstrated many different techniques.

It was felt that voices change power – we need more women in civic life.  The Quilt was a way of promoting women and Gender Equality.

For the quilt women were asked to stitch a white square with what was important to them.  There was lots of sewing on the day but everyone was able to take their square away to finish it. The Quilt was completed in Spring 2019. It is impressive, 7 feet by 8 feet with the names of those who contributed embodied on the bottom.

There are stories behind each square and examples were given – a mother of 2 girls was worried about stereotyping, “Choose to be free”, “Be your own story”, “Peace” by a visually impaired person who used buttons for Braille.



International Women’s Day 2020 – Women Alive

Soroptimist International of King’s Lynn on Sunday 8 March, International Women’s Day held a celebration for the day focusing on women’s health and well-being.

Julie William’s Programme Action Officer said: “Soroptimists in King’s Lynn  joined with members all over the world to mark International Women’s Day by holding Women Alive in St Nicholas’ Chapel, St Ann’s Street, King’s Lynn. There was an array of stands and workshops to promote the feel good factor. The day  included the return of Bollywood Dancing along with the popular smoothie bike to try out as well as arm chair yoga.

Women’s economic equality is their right, and also good for business and sustainable development. Globally, more than 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men, and women earn only 77 per cent of every dollar that men earn. Companies greatly benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness and growth. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance.

It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

There is still much work to be done and promoting International Women’s Day is an opportunity to work together to help women in the world.


Speaker Meeting – Julia Stafford Allen from the National Garden Scheme

At the March meeting the club were delighted to welcome Julia Stafford Allen, from the National Garden Scheme.  Julia started her talk by giving a fascinating insight into the history of the garden and its development from the Tudors onwards with some wonderful illustrations, including Holkham Hall.

Julia then told members about the history of the NGS, which commenced in 1927 with 609 gardens open in support of the district nursing memorial fund.  It was intended as a “one off” and Sandringham was the first garden open in Norfolk.

However, the scheme continued and grew (with a bit of a wobble in the war years!) and in 2020, 3735 gardens would be open across the country, including 255 groups of gardens, 39 allotments and 17 hospice gardens. The NGS still supports the nursing scheme (Queens Nursing Institute), but other charities also according to the wish of those opening their gardens. Recently there has been an emphasis on groups of small local gardens opening for the scheme, rather than the large estates of the wealthy which were originally the majority of gardens available. Of the monies collected, 82p in the £1.00 went to the charity.

It was a most interesting evening, especially to the members who are keen gardeners and those who enjoy visits to open gardens.


Speaker Meeting – Shirley Webb of “B Transformed” 

The February meeting of Soroptimist International of King’s Lynn provided a bit of self-indulgence for the members with a presentation by Shirley Webb of “B Transformed” who promised she could make us all look ten years younger, feel wonderful and save money by not buying clothes we wouldn’t wear!

Shirley told us of the huge impact it had had on her self confidence and her professional career to have had advice some years ago on choosing the colours and styles of clothes and make-up that best suited her. So looking for something to do after early retirement she decided to train as a colour and style consultant with House of Colour and set up her own business.

Shirley explained the principles of matching colours to hair and skin colour, demonstrating the effect on several of the members present. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all the members who went away with new ideas on colours.


Fun Quiz Evening

In January the King’s Lynn Soroptimists held a quiz evening at South Wootton Village Hall with Kim Leonard being the quiz master. The food and event was organised by the club’s fund raising officer Marion Coleman.

A fun evening was had by all and approximately £450 was raised for this year’s charities, Pandora Project and UNICEF –School in a box.  A very tasty supper was provided by Marion of pasta bake with salad and fruit or cheesecake as dessert, which was enjoyed by the 50 competitors.

Many thanks go to Kim and Marion for their efforts which help make the event such a success as well as all those who supported the event.

Speaker Meeting – Margaret Taylor Lasting Power of Attorney

Margaret, a club member,  started by giving the club a brief history of powers of attorney, explaining that essentially they are an Agency Document- i.e. “I appoint You” to act on “My behalf”……….. They would have originally been for something specific for example, to deal with a property transaction whilst one is out of the country on business/holiday. In 1971 the section 10 ordinary power of attorney (as it is known) was introduced, which deals with financial matters only. Its drawback is that it failed as a document once mental capacity failed.

In 1985 and with an ageing population, “Ordinary Power of Attorneys” were supplemented by “Enduring Powers of Attorney” whilst these still covered financial matters only, they “endured” into mental capacity allowing your attorney to act on your behalf if your mental capacity had been lost.

However since 30th September 2007, an “Enduring Power of Attorney” can no longer be made and has been replaced by the current “Lasting Power of Attorney” –of which there are 2 types:

  • Dealing with Financial Affairs – i.e. “the Purse”.
  • Dealing with Health & Welfare – i.e. “the Person”

The previous powers of attorney had only been able to deal with financial matters. There is sometimes a cross over, say, when someone is in a care home – i.e. the financial one deals with the payment for the care and the one for health and welfare deals with the care of the person themselves (i.e. with GP’s /other care workers, medication etc).

Margaret went through the documents required, explaining what to consider putting into the various preference boxes etc. For example, when completing the Health & Welfare document it is essential that this provides clarity to your Attorney and medical professionals of your needs and wishes in a given situation – i.e. whether you want to stay in your own home if your mental capacity has been lost (say through Alzheimer’s or a stroke). You also should consider quality of life over quantity of life – for example give clarity in life sustainable treatments/ support situations. The attorney can only make decisions in health and welfare matters on your behalf when mental capacity is lost – whilst you have capacity you must make your own decisions. In financial matters your attorneys can act whilst you still have capacity, but on your instructions.

Margaret also explained you can appoint more than one attorney on a joint and several basis or attorneys on an individual basis and that you do not have to have the same attorneys for your financial and health care interests.

Once the documents have been signed by the donor, a Certificate Provider will need to confirm mental capacity at the time of signing. The Attorney will then need to sign the document and have this witnessed before the document is sent to the Office of the Public Guardian. You must tick the appropriate box if you wish the financial document to come into effect immediately but it still won’t be valid until it has been verified and registered. There is still a 35 day statutory period as with the Enduring power of attorney which could cause problems. To get around this a section 10 power of attorney can be created to cover the intervening period (i.e. to act with immediate effect say in a property transaction).

Margaret then outlined what happens if no power of attorney is held when mental capacity is lost and how The Court of Protection would need to step in and how the system works. The court can appoint a Deputy (which could be a family member) or an approved Panel Deputy where no family member is available, or if the court believes the family member would not have the person’s best interests in mind. The Deputy would need to provide an annual report to the Office of the Public Guardian explaining what decisions have been made/money spent etc. Whilst it’s not uncommon to appoint a Deputy for financial matters it is rare for a Deputy to be appointed for Health & Welfare matters.

Members were encouraged to consider Lasting Powers of Attorneys and to have the conversation with their friends and families. If they decide its right for them to ensure they choose an attorney that they trust.

The meeting was closed after a brief questions and answers session.

16 Days of Activism

Soroptimist International of King’s Lynn as part of the 16 days of activism against violence against women will focus on rape as a weapon used both in war and in peace against women and girls. The ‘culture’ that enables this act of sexual violence to be normalised include victim-blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of sexual harassment or assault.

Julie Williams Programme Action Officer said: “Soroptimists’ in King’s Lynn stand up in support of the victims of rape wherever they live in today’s world. We note in particular that the number of reported cases of rape in Nepal have quadrupled in the past decade. One survey in 2016 found that 23% of women had been subject to physical, emotional or sexual violence with 7% having experienced sexual violence. Over half of the victims were minors, one in five under the age of ten.

The new SIGBI project ‘Empowering Girls in Nepal’ with ChoraChori UK will provide security, rehabilitation, education and training for vulnerable girls who are school drop-outs or who come from rural communities where sexual abuse is commonplace.  In March 2020 the club is organising an event to celebrate International Women’s Day and will support the project as part of the day.

Rape is a very specific physical form of violence against women and girls and it is rooted in a complex set of patriarchal beliefs, power and control which have created a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalized. While the names, times and contexts may differ across geographic locations, women and girls universally experience rape, sexual violence and abuse. Exact numbers of rape and sexual assaults are notoriously difficult to confirm due to frequent latitude and impunity for perpetrators, stigma towards survivors in communities and their subsequent silence.

Members turned Orange for the recent club meeting to show their support for the 16 days of activism against violence against women.


Charity Literary Lunch

The club’s annual Literary Lunch was held in November at the Ffolkes Arms with guest speakers Sarah Juggins and Josephine Reynolds, two very inspirational women.

The first speaker was Sarah the author of The History Makers, who originally came from Middleton but grew up locally and played for The Pelicans Hockey Team.  She has always loved writing and while at college studying Sports Science used to write for the local newspaper.  Sarah did teach at The College of West Anglia, but the time came when she had to choose whether to continue in education or pursue her love of writing.

In 2011 she saw an ad for volunteers for Sports and Recreational writing for preparation for the Olympic Games 2012 and became Director of the Olympic News Service.  She was offered the job of leading the Olympic Hockey News Service as editor.  She had 3 months totally absorbed by the Olympics and found she was very successful at hockey writing.

In 2016 she was present when Great Britain won the Olympic Gold medal.  They had not been expected to do well although they did win all their pool games and then made it through the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, the latter being a thrilling match against New Zealand.  The final was against The Dutch team, another exciting match, 3-3 at full time! So the match was won on penalties in a final 8 seconds of action, the GB goal protected by the Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch.   This was voted THE Moment of the Olympic Games.

Hockey media has been around for a long time although not a very high profile.  However a women’s sports team winning a gold medal was news and a really big defining moment.  Sarah began to ponder about who was going to write a book about this and decided she would do it herself.  So with Richard Stainthorpe they got together to work intensely on a publication for Christmas 2016!  The story told of English Hockey from 2004 to 2016, building a squad to conquer the world.  The photographic illustrations are amazing too and the book won the award for the illustrated Sports Book of the Year.


The second speaker was Josephine Reynolds, the first woman Fire-fighter in the UK who has published the book Fire Woman.  At 16 Sarah had wanted to be independent and to be in charge of her own life.  She considered the police force, spent time waitressing, and then saw and ad for junior firefighters wanted.

She applied and got an interview.  She found herself in a yard full of 16/17 year old boys and completed all the tasks set, climbing a 40 foot ladder and hanging upside down, crawling under a tarpaulin blindfolded, carrying a 12 stone dummy for 1 minute.  Having achieved this she was given a second interview and was seen by the Chief Officer and Deputy Chief amongst others and asked a number of questions which she must have answered with satisfaction as she was invited to join Thetford Fire Station as a Junior Fire-fighter.

Jo had not realised that she was the only woman.  It was a first for the Fire Service too and no one was quite sure how to go on…. there were no female facilities so a curtain was hung for changing for example.  There was more training and she felt she did become superhuman, drilling in all aspects, working as part of a team for a number of years.

After this Jo went travelling in the Asia, and during this time Jo got commissions to work as a journalist, finding she could write.  When she returned to UK she had no money and a book was suggested about her life as a fire-fighter. Jo was given a contract and the book was published in 2017. Whilst writing Jo offered to house sit for friends so she could write every day and concentrate. However her life after being a fire-fighter also grabs attention as worthy of another book!

Jo and Sarah took questions and commented on how they had found their writing experiences.

Kim Bramhan thanked them for their double act and being a great team.  They showed the Spirit of Soroptimism, achieving their potential and showing just what can be achieved with perseverance.

£450 was raised at the Lunch for our charities Pandora Project and UNICEF (School in a Box).


UNICEF Speaker meeting

The club was pleased to welcome to their October speaker meeting Eleanor Pugh and Ben Eden-Davies, who had travelled from London, where they work at the UNCEF Head Office.  They had also spoken to the King’s Lynn UNICEF Supporters Group earlier in the day.

UNICEF is the world’s leading children’s charity and works in more than 190 countries.  They have saved and changed more children’s lives than anyone else. They were formed in 1946.

Between 2014-2018 they vaccinated 195 million +, provided 170 million + with water and educated 70 million +.

The Key areas of work are Deadly diseases, The Rights of the Child (championed by the UN), Malnutrition and War and Disaster.  When an emergency breaks somewhere in the world there are usually lots of NGOs around. They work together to avoid overlap e.g. UNICEF, OXFAM and Save The Children. Shelter, food and education are priorities.

Every child has the right to learn.  There are 3 focuses – equitable access to learning, improved learning and skills for all. To help this aim School in a Box has been developed.  This is one of the club’s charities this year. Since 2017 at least 4400 children have been able to continue schooling in times of crisis with this help.  The box is half the size of a table and contains the necessary equipment for a classroom to function (writing equipment, clock, etc) including being able to turn the lid into a blackboard!  Maths in a Box is another resource.

WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – is another key area. 6/10th of the people of the world or 4.5 billion lacks safely managed sanitation.  The average distance that is travelled to collect water is 5 miles – 2 and 1/2 miles each way, carrying 5 litres.  Schools are being built next to water points. In 2017 33 million were given access to safe water as part of UNICEFs emergency response and UNICEF staff responded to 337 humanitarian countries in 102 countries.

UNICEF’s supply division is based in Copenhagen and is the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world.  It was donated by the Danish government.  It has a team of people buying supplies at the best prices, eg vaccinations.  It recruits staff that have ability in linguistics as well as logistics so they can be sent out to areas to set up emergency centres where needed.

In the UK UNICEF reach about 2 million children each year where there are almost 4 million who live in poverty, with poor mental health, many experiencing violence, abuse and neglect.

As far as funding is concerned over the last 5 years for every £1 spent by UNICEF in the UK 70pence went towards work for children, 29 pence went towards raising another £1 and 1 pence went towards governance.  Last year £95 million was raised in UK.  It is raised by individual giving, regional/UK wide publicity fundraising groups, corporate partnership/donors, gifts in will, Soccer Aid and Trusts and Foundations.


Modern Guiding Speaker
Our speaker for September was Pat Pinnington, a long serving leader in the girl guiding movement and a member of the movement’s Norfolk administration team.

She explained to members the changes that had occurred in the movement over the years leading to a much clearer structure in which girls can progress seamlessly, from Rainbows through Brownies to Guides and on to Rangers and the new Senior Section to be known as young leaders.   Work is carried out at each level within the same six themes, with the emphasis on keeping the programme relevant and led by the girls.   Centrally produced work sheets and computerised records make things easier for group leaders.

What has not changed is the commitment to community work, caring for each other and doing their best.

Pat was accompanied by two members of her unit, Maddy and Lily, who talked of their experiences of the programme and what attracted them to girl guiding.    Their enthusiasm and self-confidence impressed members greatly and we hope to develop our links with these talented young people.



Ely Guided Summer Walk and BBQ

During our summer break, 8 members of the club enjoyed as part of a social event a guided walk around historic Ely.

Although there were grey clouds the weather stayed dry and warm for us to enjoy the very informative talk by the blue badge guide.

The walk was followed by a BBQ at the home of one of the members. More members from the club joined the walkers together with members of Ely Hereward Rotary and Ely Inner wheel.

It was a wonderful day enjoyed by everyone with a great BBQ, with thanks to the chef, enjoyed in a lovely garden.


Baden Powell Trip

On Wednesday 7th August Soroptimist members gathered on the quayside at King’s Lynn, some with trepidation, ready to go aboard the Baden Powell, a recently rebuilt cockle boat from originally 1901.

Having been togged up with flotation aids they clambered aboard (with a great deal of help for some!) and climbed down into the hold, where there were bench seats.

After cast off, the crew hoisted the mainsail and set off downriver towards the sea. The wind pushed the boat along at about 5 knots once the engine was switched off and all the sails were hoisted. Everyone enjoyed the sounds of the birds, the wind on the sails and the views of the King’s Lynn waterfront passing by.

As we left the town behind you could see the birds collecting on the banks in the shallows and enjoying the sunshine. Further down river towards the Wash we spied some seals basking on the banks. There was an unexpected “man overboard drill” as the wind took one of the sail bags out to sea!

Members heard from the crew how the cockle boats would sail out on the high tide, settle on top of the sand banks and wait until the tide went out. The boats, which have shallow drafts, settled on the sandbanks and then they would go collecting the cockles and wait for the next incoming tide to float them off to sail back up river.

All too soon it was time to turn round and head back up river for the next group for their trip. The wind was in the right direction to sail back too and with the tide still coming in we made about 8 and a half knots on our return.

The members donated £160 for the Baden Powell Project and thanked the volunteer crew of 5 who took excellent care of all the novice trippers, who had a thoroughly enjoyable time and would recommend a trip.

Details can be found at    and

Anglia in Bloom

Club Programme Action Officer Julie Williams with member Jo Reynolds were pleased to attend on behalf of the club the judging of the Anglia in Bloom competition in King’s Lynn.

Members of the club are committed to continue to support by helping to keep the town pretty in bloom.

Charter Lunch

The club held their 44th Charter Lunch at Congham Hall on Sunday 7th July.

Guests, including other Soroptimist members from the London Anglia Region and from Friendship link clubs, were able to mingle on the terrace with Co-Presidents Janet Porter and Lynis Lord in the warm sunshine until lunch was served.

Grace was said by President Lynis.  Past Federation President Elizabeth Harrison spoke of the principles of Soroptimism and of our present club charities, which include The Pandora Project, Lend with Care and UNICEF School in a Box.  President Janet proposed the Loyal Toast.

After the meal Three’s Company, a local Drama Group, performed their dramatic sketch “Votes for Women” to everyone’s enjoyment.

During the lunch the club completed the collection for the Diamond Education Grant charity, a Soroptimist International project that helps women undertake vocational training.   A large red sack containing 22Kg of unwanted jewellery, assorted coins, old mobile phones and other items is now on its way to be recycled for the good cause.

Speaker Meeting with Tracy Mahoney – Pandora Project

Our July Speaker was Tracy Mahoney from the Pandora project, which has been adopted as one of the club charities for this year.

Tracy founded the Pandora project in 2013 to provide support to women who had suffered domestic abuse and to empower them to regain their self-esteem and independence.  The project runs a 10 week course entitled “Open the Box”.   Each session combines insight into an aspect of domestic abuse and peer support to develop the confidence of the participants.

The club were given a taste of one of the sessions, focusing on emotional abuse and its impact.  We were introduced to the techniques used by abusers to “groom” and then control the women involved and the profound effects of this form of abuse in producing guilt, depression and anxiety.   The effect of trying to put ourselves into the shoes of the abused women was very thought provoking.

The course has been shown to transform lives but referrals for places on the project are currently more than they can accommodate.   They are hoping to increase the number of trained staff available.

Speaker Meeting with Louise Clayette – Gender and International Development

In June the club hosted a talk by Louise Clayette on Gender and International Development.

Louise is bilingual and originally comes from Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. She has been completing a degree at UEA in International Relations and has just finished her Masters. Louise took a module on Gender which sparked her interest in particular when she was in New Zealand studying Masculinity and Gender, Justice and Crime.

Even though this was Louise’s first public speaking event but she made the talk very interesting. Louise had found that gender inequality is deeply embedded in society and women are socialised to speak differently from a young age. We need to be aware that there is still a gender inequality in our own culture as well as in other countries.

Women are becoming more aware that assets increase power in decision-making in the family. In developing countries where there is an improvement in economic empowerment and women earn more money through their micro businesses they then spend more on their family and in the community, but this can cause issues within the family. It is therefore important to include men in projects and mainstream gender equality.

There was interesting discussion during the meeting, especially about the different ways in which gender inequality exists even in the UK today.

Louise is due to leave shortly for India where she is spending 8 weeks working at the Society for Women’s Action Initiative in Gujerat.

Earth Day Event

Club members were pleased to support the Earth Day Event again held in St Nicholas Chapel.

One of the theme for the event was lost species and the club chose elephants.

The event is always worthwhile attending with numerous stalls and activities.