SOROPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL LEICESTER
1934 – 2021
Soroptimist International (SI) Leicester was chartered into the European Federation on 17th March 1934. A few months later the Federation of Great Britain and Ireland was established, to which the Leicester club was then transferred.
It was during 1933 that members from SI Birmingham had suggested the formation of a Leicester club. Contact was made with Miss D R Smith, headmistress of the Collegiate School, who formed a small committee with Mrs Mary Attenborough, mother of Richard and David, and Miss F M Hughes, Matron of the Royal Infirmary and an international figure in the nursing profession at the time. The planning came to fruition when the Charter Dinner was held. The Guest Speaker was Harold Nicholson MP, and the Charter was signed by Mme Dr Suzanne Noel, President of the European Federation. Miss F M Adams was the first club President, and founder members included Mrs E Bond – wife of an eminent surgeon in the city – who became the first female magistrate on the Leicester bench, and Miss Dora Warner, a chartered Secretary, later to become a magistrate. Dora went on to become Federation President.
Over the years the Club has partnered many other organisations and charities both locally, nationally and internationally. We have always supported the Quadrennial projects.
Among our more distinctive achievements was the creation of SI Leicester’s Soroptimist Housing Project for single women. We raised money in the 1940s/1950s and purchased land on which we built two excellent blocks of flats, with a wonderful garden and views over Scraptoft golf course. Each year the Club organised summer outings, coffee mornings and a Christmas party with presents for residents. The project operated until 2008 when we handed it on to Leicester Quaker Housing Association, with whom we had close links.
The causes we have recently supported include Mary’s Meals, Red Box, Toilet Twinning, Save the Children, Rainbows Children’s Hospice, the Maplewell School for special needs children (where we equipped the library with 200 books), and Mablethorpe Children’s Home (provider of seaside holidays for needy children). In 2019, in partnership with Leicestershire Constabulary, we organised a very successful conference on Modern Day Slavery.
During the Covid-19 pandemic we have raised funds to furnish a room at Juno House, a Women’s Aid project for 16- to 24-year-olds and their children. At Christmas we gave hampers of food with a present for everyone.
At Easter we supplied Easter Eggs for the children. We are creating a garden at Juno House, where some of our Centenary trees will be planted. We have also remained long-term supporters of ADHD Solutions, a Community Interest Company.
Our recent Club meetings have been held by Zoom and we regularly invite members of SI Loughborough, our daughter club, to our meetings. We have been delighted that two of our meetings included our Federation President and our Region President as Speakers.