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Closing Ceremony and Entertainment

London 2023 Conference 3-4 November 2023 - Climate for Change

Blog by Louise Parry, SI Northwich and District, Cheshire North Wales and Wirral

The closing ceremony began by Hilary Ratcliffe OBE inviting Soroptimist International President Maureen to perform the change of the Soroptimist International chain as this was not able to be done in Dublin. She passed the chain to President Elect Siew-Yong, and thanked President Cathy for incorporating this into the SIGBI conference. Siew-Yong confirmed she was dedicated to saving Mother Earth and eliminating violence against women.

President Cathy was then invited to the stage and began by hoping everyone had found inspiration over the last 2 days at conference. She concluded that her last 2 years as President had been joyful, challenging, stressful and wonderful, incorporating momentous events, and also the challenge to build back after Covid.

Among other things, Cathy has chartered 10 clubs, travelled around the UK and met members in Malta, India, Nepal and Bangladesh and the Caribbean, which was a highlight of the time.

There is a challenge, however, to grow the organisation and make it relevant in today’s world. SIGBI is 90 next year. We must be proud of the women who have gone before but look to the future as well.

She thanked all members for their work, the staff in the office for their support, as well as the Board members and wished everyone success for the future.

The chain was passed from Cathy to Ruth, and the President elect chain passed to Gillie.

Ruth began by presenting the new board, all of who are continuing, and a ‘watch this space’ for a new finance director.

She said she felt excited and daunted at this time, and she realised her imposter syndrome had kicked in. She gave a description of how lucky she is because she has choices she can make, Soroptimism is about the women and girls who don’t have choices. On our own we cannot change the world for women, but we need to be part of that change. There are 70,000 members around the world, that is a powerful position, and we need to partner with others who are striving for the same goal.

We do, however, have to adapt to meet the new conditions to survive and change to be relevant. There are, and will be, changes in the world of work and we need to ensure women are ready to take advantage of this. SIGBI is to engage with an external PR agency to tell the world who we are. We need to let new members have their say, we need to embrace new ideas and we must change.

The conference next year will be in Edinburgh at the Assembly rooms and we saw videos which showed the beauty and interest of both! It will take place from 1st to 3rd November 2024 and will be from Friday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime. The AGM will be on the Sunday morning followed by a session to ask questions of the Board.

As we will celebrate 90 years of SIGBI, Ruth threw out 2 challenges:

Firstly, do 90 things in the year, and there will be the opportunity to show posters at Edinburgh about the projects.

Secondly, we have 5361 members today, increase your club membership by one (over and above any lost) and together we can make the change we need to make.

The Soroptimist flag was handed by Anne Dawson to Alison Cramer, the chair of the Edinburgh conference, and thanks were expressed to all the stewards and the staff at the Friends House as the formal part of the evening finished.

We were then treated to entertainment from Tashara Forrest who sang a variety of songs, received well by members who danced enthusiastically along to them.