New Year message from President Jan

My warmest wishes for 2018 to all of our Midland Arden Region Soroptimist sisters, families and friends. I hope you have all enjoyed the festive season and are looking forward to the year ahead, maintaining some, if not all, of your New Year resolutions! My newly formed resolve to diet escaped first, closely and stealthily followed by my dry January plan, as I attended the wedding of my friend’s only son and it seemed so unkind to refuse the champagne for the toast! The most important resolution for me to keep, however, is my commitment to my role as regional President and the principle of working together to promote the vision and mission of Soroptimism.

May I start by thanking all of you who attended our regional meeting in December and my condolences for those prevented by the dreadful weather conditions.  Our speakers, Barbara Dixon, SIGBI Programme Director, Di Hill Federation Management Board, and our very own Vice President Rose Hutchinson provided an enjoyable blend of humour, human interest and advocacy. Thanks to your generosity we raised £216 for the International President’s Appeal “Women Water and Leadership” We were very fortunate in the high standard of venue, service and quality of food, at a fair price, provided by Chesford Grange Hotel.

This leads me onto the challenge Barbara Dixon presented to us in her talk and again in her January Blog; to think outside the box- can we give up something to benefit others, can we enlist funds from other agencies, can we make Soroptimism affordable but more efficient so that we can attract more members?

At the meeting you asked the Regional Officers’ Committee (ROC) to start the process of rethinking the budget. I know myself from conversations with members that we need to look again at venues, and what, if anything, do we want in the way of food. Venues for my year are booked but I can assure you that we will start those discussions at our ROC meeting in February.

Future Events

  • On March 3rd we are holding the Programme Action Forum which we hope that as many of you as possible will be able to attend. The theme for the morning will centre around the Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating hunger and preserving the environment.The speakers are;
  • Steve Thomson who is the Operations Director for  Garden Organic which is the leading organic gardening charity in Europe. They run a range of programmes and activities to get people growing and gardening organically. Working with individuals, in schools and communities, they bring their expert knowledge and skills to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening and growing, which include it being a good form of exercise, a stimulus to a better diet, a way to improve mental health and wellbeing and a tool for social interaction and behavioural change.
    Steve is currently responsible for the organisation’s Horticulture, Commercial and Education programmes. I know of their work through the Rye Hill Prison Garden Project which is delivered by Garden Organic’s Master Gardener programme team, and works in conjunction with Substance Misuse Services (SMS) and G4S, which operates the prison, and is funded by Public Health England (Northamptonshire).
  • Amanjit Dhillon who is the Fundraising Product Officer for Child.Org. Many of you will have seen her at the Cardiff Conference at their stand alongside MERU. She will talk about the work of Child.Org and their links with Soroptimism and their global projects.


  • Over the last weeks I have had conversations with Gina Coad at SIGBI Headquarters. Midland Arden and Midland Chase regions did not take part in the Growth Plan 2021 training days held over the last two years. Three MAR clubs were selected take part in the pilot project and they have disseminated that work through our regional communication and development days. We have been offered the opportunity again for a joint day for our two regions which ROC is supporting and I am waiting for confirmation of a date from Federation. Four members from each club will be able to attend the free training.


  • As you are aware from previous notifications, several members of the Region are attending the joint Northern and Southern Conference in Killarney in May. If any of you would still like details of the Conference or accommodation, please contact myself or Patricia Weinbren, the MAR website Manager.


  • I would like to take this opportunity to advise you that the AGM scheduled for the 22nd of September will be cancelled and an alternative date sent out after our ROC meeting in February. The date clashes with the 80TH Anniversary celebrations of SI Worcester and District who are arranging a very exciting weekend and we hope to give them the very best support possible.

Thank you to all clubs who have already invited me to events or asked me to speak, and I will be in touch with others to ensure I have visited you all by the end of my year.

Finally my very best wishes for the year ahead.


President Jan