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Obituaries

Obituaries will be added to this page once a month on the last Friday of the month. They will remain on the page for three months, and will then be removed.

To submit an obituary, send a picture (if desired) which has been cropped to 150 x 150 (thumbnail size) and a maximum of 150 words to selina@sigbi.org.


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

Lucille M Hughes passed away on 1 February 2021.

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.


Cath Neil – SI Crieff

We heard the sad news in mid December of the death of past S.I. Crieff member, Cath Neil. She was our Club President in 1973-1974 and Scotland North Divisional Union President 1976-1977.


Marion Henry – SI Ballymoney and District

Marion joined Ballymoney and District Club on 21st July 1979. She was a committed and active member who rarely missed a meeting. In her early years she held the post of Treasurer and then became convenor of the finance committee before taking up the role of President in March 1986. During her year as President the annual fundraising Fork Supper approached. After weeks of planning, cooking, baking and preparations the day finally arrived and disaster struck. The electricity was off due to strike action by workers. But Jean Irwin the secretary decided the fork supper would go on! Maire McGowan was the social convenor  and she said she could manage if she could get gas cookers, boilers, oil lamps and candelabras. These items which hadn’t seen the light of day for years were gathered up, cleaned and polished. The final effect was unbelievable. The Parish Centre had taken on a whole new appearance and atmosphere. The evening was a great success. The determination and resourcefulness of the members had turned a potential disaster into a wonderful achievement. The story above is taken from an article Marion wrote for a booklet produced to commemorate the club’s 40th anniversary. In her own words she described her experience of being a Soroptimist. “I have really enjoyed being a member of the Ballymoney and District Soroptimist Club. It has given me the opportunity to attend many National and International Conferences and to meet fascinating women from different cultures and walks of life. I have formed many lasting friendships.”

She is remembered by our club members as a kind, gracious, thoughtful special lady with a lovely way and kind smile. We will cherish the happy memory of Marion attending our last club Christmas dinner along with her niece and fellow club member, Helen, in December 2019.


Christine Easter – SI Bromley
22.11.1944 – 29.12.2020

The sudden death in hospital after a short illness of such a valued member has come as a real shock to SI Bromley.

Chris had a very high-powered job as secretary to 6 different British Ambassadors around the globe. Once her overseas travel ceased she took various roles at the Foreign Office, the last being Executive Secretary to the Diplomatic Services Families’ Association.

When once again London based, Chris was introduced to Soroptimism which added a whole new dimension to her life. “She loved the Soroptimists and all that went with them”.

Chris was heavily involved in all Club activities, but especially keen on the social and fundraising side. She was President twice, solely in 2006 and then jointly two years later. She was an excellent Club Secretary and Membership Officer. Also a regular attendee at Regional Meetings and Federation Conferences.

She will be sorely missed by family, numerous friends and all SI Bromley members.


Margaret Morris – SI Pontypridd and District

Margaret Morris died in hospital on 6th January, 2021. Margaret had been a member of S.I. Pontypridd & District Club since 1981, and was our longest serving member. She had held most posts in the Club including President, Treasurer, Secretary and Divisional Union Representative. Margaret was an active, loved member and will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace.


Catherine Broughton – SI Medway and Maidstone

Catherine Broughton, former President of SISEE in 1995-96 and former President of SI Ashford (1992-93) and SI Maidstone (2002-03) passed away at the end of September 2020. Having lost her hearing during her 40s she became one of the early recipients of a Hearing Dog for the Deaf. Her dog, Athena, would accompany her wherever she went and Catherine acted as an advocate for the Hearing Dog scheme for the remainder of her life.

Following her Regional presidency Catherine started the Regional Merchandising scheme to promote Soroptimist International and raise monies for the Region. She took up the role of SIGBI Federation Director for PR Marketing and Development in 2001-2002, co-leading at the time on the development of the SIGBI Teams of Excellence (ToE) initiative and training up facilitators to deliver the modules.

Tributes to Catherine show that she was an inspirational speaker, encouraging and mentoring new members and helping them to get further involved in Soroptimism.

She will be fondly remembered by all who knew her.


Eva Lomas – SI Leigh and District

Eva died 4th January 2021.

Eva joined S.I. Leigh & District on 1st October 1980 and was thrilled to receive her 40 years Certificate recently. She was Club President 1990-1991. With her unique style of encouragement and guidance she offered friendship and encouragement to all members. She chaired many of the club committees including Membership Officer, she was also the clubs first welfare liaison.

Eva’s career as an Estate Agent with two local offices, saw her become National President of ‘The National Association of Estate Agents’.

With her late husband Norman, she worked with the Management Board of No. 63 Bayswater Road on the restoration work being carried out. Using her expertise and experience she was able to suggest craftsmen to carry-out the work to the unique Italian Window, work that she was rightly proud of. The stained-glass restoration work was carried out by another Leigh member Barbara Cropper.

Eva was an instrumental member of the local Prostate Cancer group and supported Norman during his struggle with the disease. Following Norman’s death from Prostate Cancer she continued with her fundraising.

As well as being a committed Soroptimist Eva was also a member of Astley Inner Wheel Club and served as District Chairman.


Christine Fulton – SI Bedford
1st June 1937 – 30th September 2020

Christine was born and grew up  Hitchin in Bedfordshire. Following university in Exeter she became a Geography teacher, working in several locations before she was appointed a Deputy Headteacher in Kent. It was while she was working here her Soroptimist life began. She joined SI Maidstone and quickly settled in to become a very active member. She held various roles in the club: Secretary, Programme Action Officer, President twice. Regional roles followed; in 1991 when she became SI South East Region President.

She enjoyed attending SIGBI conferences and International Conventions and in 2006 Christine was Chief Steward at the SIGBI Conference in Nottingham.

Following retirement Christine moved back to Bedfordshire where she became a member of SI Bedford. She was quickly recruited to the Management Committee of the club Housing Association, and she was still actively involved up until the time of her death.


Barbara Watts – SI Woking and District

Barbara Watts died unexpectedly on November 28th 2020, a shock and a great loss to all who knew her. Barbara joined Soroptimist International in 2000 as a member of SI Epsom and was latterly warmly welcomed by her friends at SI Woking. Barbara held many roles at club level including President twice, Programme Action Officer, Secretary and Communications/Website co-ordinator.  Barbara had completed two very successful years as Regional President for SI Southern England standing down at the AGM only weeks before her death.

Barbara’s passion, capability and enthusiasm are ably demonstrated in the Volunteering in Pretoria (VIP) Project which was featured at the last Regional Meeting where we met, virtually, the two excellent young women from Tshwane who are benefiting from the internships. This Project will continue in Barbara’s honour and memory. Barbara was successfully developing a new club for the Sutton area and this work will be continued to fruition. Farewell our dear friend.


Elisabeth Ferguson – SI Bangor

Elisabeth Ferguson, OBE a member of S.I. Bangor (N.I.) passed away on the 7th October 2020.

She joined in 1985 and an enthusiastic club member until poor health forced her to resign. In her typical generous manner her letter of resignation was accompanied by a large donation for club charities.

Elisabeth was always very proud of being a Soroptimist. She undertook roles of minute secretary, secretary and President of the club in 1989/90. She had an unique ability to encourage and give confidence to others.

Professionally Elisabeth was an outstanding teacher becoming Headmistress of a girls’ school, Ashleigh House. She enabled girls and young women through volunteering with Sea Rangers and Guides. This work was recognised by appointment as NI Chairperson of the Trefoil Guild.  As her pupils and cadets became adults she introduced them to Soroptimism membership.

Elisabeth used her love of travelling to promote club charities.  She was a skilled speaker, enjoyed Soroptimist friendships and attending at Soroptimist conferences.


Marjorie Page – SI Bridgend and District

23rd March 1940 – 18th November 2020

We are sorry to announce that our dear friend Marjorie Page passed away on 18th November after several years of a debilitating illness. Marjorie’s full life ended gently and peacefully, at home surrounded by her family.

Marjorie became a Soroptimist in 1988 and although busy as Head of English in a local Comprehensive school immediately took the lead in our education essay writing competition. She took on the task of getting schools to become involved and then judged the entries.

Marjorie became club President from 1994 until 1995 and in recent years became club secretary which she did conscientiously until the time of her death. She had many outside interests which included being committee member of our local English Speaking Union. Marjorie worked tirelessly to develop training in public speaking for schools at primary and secondary level.

One interesting fact is that she never retired having set up her own Educational Consultancy which included setting and marking examination papers. Marjorie was a good cook-loved her garden and made jams marmalade and amazing green tomato chutney. She collected antiques, loved nights at the Opera and social bridge evenings. She was hard working all her life-was an amazing friend Wife Mum and Granny.

Marjorie was well loved and will be greatly missed.


Mariolina Clarke – SI Leicester

Mariolina Clarke passed away on 7 December 2020 aged 95. She joined SI Leicester on 11 October 1970 and was a member for over 50 years – our longest serving Leicester Soroptimist.

In her younger days Mariolina was a very active, hard working member and raised a tremendous amount of money for the many charities SI Leicester has supported. Mariolina filled Leicester’s De Montfort Hall for one of her marvellous musical evenings, bringing musicians from around the world.

Mariolina was always beautifully dressed and as a beautician very well turned out.

Mariolina will be remembered with love and affection.


Margaret Ambrose – SI Medway and Maidstone

Margaret was a much-loved former member and President of SI Maidstone, who stepped down from her membership earlier in the year due to increasing frailty. She passed away peacefully at home on 2nd November.

Margaret joined Soroptimist International of Maidstone in November 1970, hence was a Soroptimist for almost 50 years. Her professional background was as a district nurse and a health-visitor, featuring in the lives of some of the Maidstone Soroptimists long before they became Soroptimists. She was an exemplary Soroptimist who gave unstinting service in a selfless way. Although she never aspired to hold high office she was persuaded to become the Club President for 2007/8 and presided over a highly successful year.

Margaret will be remembered with great affection for her compassion, kindness, generosity and love of people. She brought joy to people’s lives and touched the lives of many.

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