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Marion Griffiths – SI Stourbridge and District
Stourbridge and District Soroptimists were very sad to learn of the death on 17th March of their oldest member, Marion Griffiths, Honorary for some years now, having moved to Gwastad Hall Nursing Home near Wrexham in 2017. She was 99, and in anticipated celebration of her Centenary in the same year as Soroptimist International, the first of our 100 trees to be planted this Soroptimist Centenary year, a tulip chosen by Marion and her family, had already been established in the garden at Gwastad Hall. Marion was a long-serving Soroptimist, and was presented with her 50 year certificate in 2019. She had been Head of Midwifery Services at Wordsley Hospital and a much loved friend in her Soroptimist Club. She was Club President 1977-1978, and completed her entry in our 60th Club anniversary booklet in 2007 with the words: “My happiest years in Soroptimism have been in witnessing our rebirth.” On the morning of her funeral on the 26th at Northrop Crematorium, Club members gathered on Zoom to recall their special memories of Marion, who was a tremendous support to all, and personified the welcoming nature of our Club. We particularly recalled the Fergusons’ garden party when Marion reached 90, and her appreciation of that day. We were grateful to Soroptimists living near to Wrexham who visited Marion to help her settle in when she first moved. She would have been very proud to know that her Soroptimist Club has recently in 2021, with local organisation partners, achieved Toilet Twinning Town status for Stourbridge. Thoughtful as ever for Soroptimist charities, donations in her memory are invited for Mary Stevens Hospice, Water Aid, Worcester Wildlife Trust and Age UK. The Music Suite to ‘Call the Midwife’ was most appropriate after her committal. There will be many local people who will have been delivered into this world by Marion Griffiths and her Team, and may wish to remember her, and wish her rest in peace.
Soroptimist International is the most extensive women’s service organisation in the world, working to improve the lives of women and girls by educational, empowering and enabling opportunities. With a seat at the UN, members have recently been attending the virtual 65th Commission on the Status of Women, aimed at ‘Women’s full and effective participation and decision making in public life, as well as elimination of violence against women, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.’
Brenda Guise – SI Worcester and District
Brenda joined Worcester and Malvern Club in 1980.
She and her husband, John, were chemists and had their own business in Malvern Link that is till open to this day.
They lived in Leigh, a small village that shares a parish council with Bransford for many years.
They had four children, fourteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
In the early days of her life in Leigh Brenda and her husband were involved in various activities in the village and her husband served in Leigh Church.
Brenda died peacefully at home on the 26th March 2021.
During the time I have known her she was a loyal Soroptimist, quiet and unassuming but with a keen sense of humour. Brenda attended meetings and supported all club activities whenever she could.
Brenda was a great believer in everything Soroptimist International stands for especially the rights of women and girls.
She will sadly missed by all her friends at SI Worcester and District Club.
Noreen Yule – SI Runcorn, Frodsham and District
SI Runcorn, Frodsham &District are very sad to announce the death of Noreen Yule on 23rd January. Noreen was born and brought up in the North East of England where she also met and married Walter her long time ‘Soroptimister’ of 60 years. Noreen trained as a teacher and this remained her career for all her working life.
In the early 1970’s the family moved to Runcorn where they brought up their family and involved themselves in Runcorn life and Noreen became a member of Soroptimist International.
Noreen was a Club member for 35 years. She loved being a Soroptimist and was a wonderful support and an encouragement to so many in the Club and the Region, she served the club in many roles including Club President several times and in 1999 – 2000 was Region President. Noreen was a great organiser and her fundraising events for club projects were legendry. If you were to ask Noreen what was the best part of being a Soroptimist she would say ‘the friendship’ which both she and Walter valued greatly.
Being a Soroptimist was a huge part of Noreen’s life and of who she was. For this reason, her family made the decision to ask for donations in her memory to be made to the Diamond Education Grant. The club were so pleased to hear recently that £2,500.00 was raised in her memory – a wonderful tribute to Noreen.
Pam Allinson – SI Barry and District
It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Pam Allinson on the 13th February, 2021, aged 68 years. She was a Barry girl and a primary school teacher by profession. She joined SI Barry and District in 2000 and soon became immersed in club activities becoming its President in 2005. She then became Chair of Regional Programme Action Committee and Communication, Regional President and Federation Assistant Programme Director for Education. She enjoyed SIGBI conferences and relished the opportunity to attend the Soroptimist International Conference in Istanbul. She was indeed a dedicated Soroptimist.
However 5 years ago, she suffered a major stroke which left her severely paralysed. Undaunted she rekindled her love for art and took up painting. She was delighted that people were prepared to buy prints of her art work and hence raise money for Breast Cancer Now – a charity which she founded.
Her many friends and colleagues will remember Pam with great fondness and with admiration for the way she faced life with fortitude and dignity.
Joan Spiby – SI Warrington
Joan Spiby, one of SI Warrington’s longest serving members, left us on 11th September 2020 at the age of 85, following a valiant struggle against Parkinson’s disease. She was a Soroptimist for more than 32 years and held every Officer position including three terms as Club President, and 18 years as Club Secretary.
Joan’s knowledge of Soroptimism was extensive. Over the years she assisted Malta in their early days and had many trips there, resulting in a Friendship Link being established between SI Malta and SI Warrington. She also visited SI Reykjavik in Iceland twice, another of SI Warrington’s Friendship Links, which arose through Joan. In 2016, she attended CSW in New York and the SIA Convention in Florida.
Joan was a keen advocate of community service, was an active Local Parish Councillor and coached a boy’s football team. She was also a life-long champion of women’s football – in her youth she played in the Preston-based Dick, Kerr Ladies’ FC team, which was considered to be the best women’s team in England in their day. Later this love of the game translated into supporting Liverpool FC, either at Anfield or on TV.
Joan loved and valued the social side of being a Soroptimist too, and enthusiastically participated in as many events as possible. This included wearing a wig and a short leopard skin dress to perform as Tina Turner to raise money for Hilary Page’s International President appeal and as a Chinese Soroptimist in a tribute to past Federation President, Tricia Fahey.
A Lasting Memories Tribute Fund has been set up on the Parkinson’s UK website for donations in Joan’s memory. As of February 2021, the total raised is an impressive £ 1795.00. The site can be accessed via the following link: https://joan-spiby.muchloved.com.
Joan was a determined and vocal advocate of the mission and activities of Soroptimism and inspired many to join the organisation. Her counsel will be greatly missed.
Debra Jo Bennett – SI St Austell and District
Dear Jo passed away on the 10th March 2021. She was one of the founder members of the Club and a very interesting lady who was a chemist and widely travelled and full of local knowledge. She was one of the founder members of the club. She loved her puds and the photo shows one of her favourite activities – eating a pudding. She had been ill for a long time but was very strong and fought hard but sadly then eventually lost her battle.
Cecil Maule-Oatway – SI Barnstaple and District
When Cecil Maule-Oatway left school she joined the Land Army and was based on a farm at Woking with three other girls, working as a dairy maid. In 1947/48 she studied the ‘Southern Regional Association for the Blind’ Home Teacher’s Training Course, before taking the College of Teachers’ Examination. In the early 1950s she moved to Exeter where she worked visiting visually impaired people in their homes and in December 1968 Cecil was awarded a Diploma in Social Work from the University of Birmingham. Cecil joined SI Exeter in 1952, and was President of that club before moving to Barnstaple in 1971 and joining the Club there.
Cecil always maintained that having been given a boy’s name made her stronger, and more determined, and that strength of character must certainly have been called on in the early days of her career in Barnstaple as her category when joining that Club was ‘Principal, Social Services’.
She loved to speak, along with our other longstanding members, of the early years of Soroptimism, when members were addressed by their surnames, and a hat and gloves were worn at meetings.
Cecil was a no-nonsense woman whose career had come before marriage, but who enjoyed the support of the families of her brothers.
She boasted of the longevity of them all, and, indeed, she lived to see her 95th birthday before passing away in a local nursing home, on 12th January, following a stroke.
Cecil, a long-standing ‘Honorary’ member of SI Barnstaple & District, will be remembered by us all for her forthrightness, and for battling all weathers to attend a meeting, which indeed she did, right up until the first lockdown.
Lucille M Hughes – SI Bangor and District
She was Director of Social Services Gwynedd County Council for many years. She joined SI Bangor and District in 1971. Club President 1975 – 1976; Divisional Union President (now Region President) 1979 – 1980; DU Benevolent Fund Rep 1981 – 1986 and Honorary Member.
Lucille was a very active member of the club and was involved with many local organisation such as CAIS, Childline Cymru, and her local chapel Capel Shiloh in Caernarfon to name a few.
Elizabeth Fisher – SI Bray and District
Our dear friend and loyal and long-standing member of SI Bray and District, Republic of Ireland, Elizabeth Fisher died peacefully at her home on 21st January 2021. Elizabeth was a long-standing member of our Club and was President from 1992 to 1993. She enlivened our meetings with her brilliant smile and wonderful sense of humour and will be sadly missed. May she rest in peace.
Margaret J Smith – SI Dewsbury and District
Margaret died on 25th January, aged 85. A member of SI Dewsbury since 1983, she was President in 1991-92 raising money for Barnardo’s and Children in Need in her year of office. Margaret spent all her working life at ICI as a personnel officer. She was a keen golfer and Past Captain at Dewsbury District Golf club, also a bridge player. Margaret enjoyed many holidays around the world with friends and organised the monthly Retired Soroptimists lunch for members, finding a varied selection of venues for a good meal enjoyed with her favourite tipple of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
She will be sadly missed by members who hope to raise a toast in better times.