I would like to thank everyone who attended our Celebration Tea and Change of Insignia on April 29th this year. I tried a different approach and instead of a formal lunch or dinner, we celebrated over tea at Hogarth’s Stone Manor in Kidderminster. The venue was delightful, and the food was exceptional. Beautifully crafted sandwiches, savouries and confectionary pleasantly surprised us all. The staff certainly went the extra mile including organising our presentations to make the afternoon run smoothly and seamlessly.
Over the last few years, club structures have changed and developed and fewer clubs have Presidents. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise and celebrate those Soroptimists who do take office. Outgoing President Hilary Thompson and incoming President Sue Merrill for SI Kidderminster; outgoing President Margaret Rutter and incoming President Anne McLucas for SI Worcester and outgoing President Elaine Stephens for SI Solihull were all congratulated by Federation President Susan Biggs.
The second new approach was the award of a Regional Prize for Club Presentations about a favourite piece of Programme Action work. We had six really interesting and innovatively presented entries based on the sustainable goals Environmental Sustainability, water and sanitation or Food Security. Presentations took place during the afternoon and all guests voted for first second and third placeS. As you can imagine I was a little apprehensive that clubs would enter into the spirit of the event and I was overjoyed by the response.
SI Kidderminster were the winners. 13 members delivered a talk and beautifully dressed performance which encouraged us all to sing and made us laugh. They showcased the colourful children’s dresses and shorts made out of recycled pillowcases which they make and send to an orphanage in Hoima Uganda.
Second was SI Stourbridge and district who presented their work on Toilet Twinning, showing photographs of happy faces, proud and thankful for the latrines provided in rural villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda and a toilet block for a school in Nepal. We were usefully informed that GPS coordinates are available if ever we need to look these up on our travels!
SI Stratford won third prize with a charming recipe for a successful garden, based on their continuing work to bring a calming and pretty garden environment for patients to enjoy at the Stratford Hospital.
But all entries were winners in their own right. SI Solihull gave a delightful presentation about their ongoing gardening work at Widney Manor Station; SI Rugby presented their annual PAC work in conjunction with partners Seven Trent which is a sponsored walk for Water Aid and SI Kenilworth’s presentation made us all think about the really valuable and sustained work we do for individuals with disabilities who need our help through their project on Joan’s Garden.
Thank you so much to everyone who took part. I hope that this will be a biennial award alternated with the Inspirational Woman, as your response was so positive. A special thank you to Rose Hutchinson our Regional PAC Officer for her support and the choice of a really thoughtful first prize which was a Conference Pear tree which can be planted to carry on our work and raise awareness.
I received a thank you card from Sue Biggs in which she asked me to congratulate MAR for the very high quality of our PAC work and to say how much she and her husband enjoyed the event.
At the end of the celebration tea, a special presentation was given to Sue Biggs by SI Stourbridge and District. This was a full set of First Day Covers stamps to commemorate 100 years of the Suffragette movement. Federation President Sue was possibly for the first time ever, speechless.