Message from London Chilterns Region President Helen Byrne:
“I put myself forward to be Regional President because our Region, London Chilterns, is full of inspiring women who do fantastic work and from whom I have always felt generous support and encouragement. I would particularly like to thank Denise Powell, our past Regional President , for steering us so gracefully through lockdown and keeping us all going through a very tough year.
I feel strongly that Region has a very important role to play in the amazing organisation which is Soroptimist International: an intersection between the doing on the ground and the collective advocacy, strategic action and the leadership and vision of SI and Federation. In an organisation where we are exhorted to cover everything it helps to see that our strength is in our diversity, with each individual Member’s and Club’s achievements adding together to make a resounding difference. Regional meetings are where we can see both that diversity and the coming together to make a difference.
At their best, Regional meetings are like Federation Conferences – inspiring – and I want to help ensure we maintain that quality. They are also a place where we are drawn together to share our achievements, to gather breath and support and to be reinvigorated with simple ideas from other Clubs and other Members. In the world of COVID-19 there is even more need to build connection and to find support and encouragement.
Region is also about supporting and encouraging development – helping Clubs experience good practice and creating space in which change can happen. I am keen to see Clubs grow both in size and capability and am really looking forward to visiting Clubs, even if only on Zoom, to find out what more Region can do to help that growth.
I am humbled to be Regional President, especially in 2020-21 the Centenary Year of Soroptimist International. We have achieved so much and yet there is still so much to do. Hence my theme ‘Celebrate the Past, Create the Future’.
In a world where the story of women is so rarely told properly we need to allow ourselves the time and energy to honour and celebrate how far we, our Clubs, Federation, Soroptimist International and women and girls in general have come, while, at the same time, continuing to bear witness to ever changing needs, creating a positive vision of what the future looks like for women and girls and seeking innovative ways and means to get there.
It’s why I am a Soroptimist and why I would encourage any woman to be one too.
Aims for the Year and for the SI Centenary
During my year I will develop our meetings over time in line with Government Guidelines, beginning on Zoom and hoping that we can achieve some face to face get togethers too.
I intend to fully embrace:
- the Climate Crisis and Soroptimist International Centenary by taking part in the Centenary Climate Action Project #PlantTrees for a Brighter Future – I am challenging each club in our Region to undertake at least 1 tree planting activity and , if possible, to share the story on the Centenary website
- the Black Lives Matter call for us all to look for ways to make our work, Clubs and events inclusive – by ensuring diversity in the invited speakers and reviewing where barriers exist to the involvement of all
- the SIGBI “100 for 100” #WhoIsShe campaign by celebrating, at Regional Meetings during the year, the Members of the Region who have been put forward
- The opportunities the Soroptimist International 100th Anniversary offers to promote our organisation, our Region, our Clubs and our Membership.
On the fun and friendship front, though sadly we can’t have our Regional meal at Conference in 2020 I will
– work with SI Milton Keynes to include a Centenary Celebration in our Regional Meeting in June 2021
- have catch up Zoom calls with Club Presidents to help make the most of our Centenary and to build connection between Clubs and between Clubs and Region.”
About Helen: Helen Byrne has been a Soroptimist since 2008 and became involved in the St Albans Club’s Executive (Management team) almost immediately and it wasn’t long before she served as the Club’s President. Helen was a very successful Membership Officer for the Club recruiting many Members and ensuring that existing Members’ needs were being met by the Club. As a result she put herself forward as Membership Officer in a role she shared with Rita Beaumont several years ago now. Her experience on the SI London Chilterns’ Executive led her to stand for President and we hope she enjoys the role as much as the Clubs in the Region will value her taking it on.