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Change of Insignia – President’s Speech

Progress Not Perfection…Our Region’s Change of Insignia took place on 7th November at a very well-attended informal brunch. For those of you who were unable to attend, we thought you might like to read incoming Regional President Judith Carder’s speech.

My theme ‘Progress not Perfection’ holds  a very simple message; while perfection is very difficult to achieve – especially as we tend to change what our idea of perfection is – every step we take towards a goal we have set, every change for the better we make in any walk of life, is Progress and if we can focus on that PROGRESS we will  motivate ourselves to keep going which gives us confidence & spurs us on to achieve even more.  

As Soroptimists, we have shown we really do have the ability to make positive changes, but sometimes we forget to reflect on and celebrate what we have achieved. 

The last year has shown us that to continue to make progress we need as Soroptimists, to evolve, to be open to change and be prepared to adapt to different ways of doing things. Too often we have all heard comments like ‘We’ve tried this before and it didn’t work!’  and We’ve always done it this way! I’d like to ban this latter phrase all together – what a sad reflection on life it would be if we could not countenance a change that allows us to progress; as Soroptimists we embrace progress – it is at the core of who we are and what we do. 

In the words of Plato ‘’Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.’’

You will all see the little cards in front of you please take these cards away with you – pop them in your wallets as a reminder of the theme. There are envelopes on some tables with a club name on – please take these back to your club and distribute so members who cannot be here have one to keep.

Now for what is planned this year:

The Programme Action focus for the year will be centred on Modern Day Slavery, a subject very high on SIGBI’s agenda.  Some of you will have watched the MDS workshop at the Llandudno virtual conference which highlighted some horrifying statistics and described the challenges faced by the teams safeguarding every day on the frontline but also gave some practical tips and actions we can all take to inform and protect the vulnerable. 

Locally, Voice of Hope a Staffordshire based charity works to raise awareness of MDS and Human Trafficking.  They also provide training which some Soroptimists completed over Zoom in July and found excellent.    I encourage all clubs to consider creating an opportunity for training by this amazing charity; while there is no charge a donation will always be welcome.  

71% of trafficked persons are women and girls and Covid has made matters even worse, so our efforts to make PROGRESS in this area have become even more important.

This project is planned to last three years as both Lyn Shiel and Michelle Daws are keen to support this initiative too. So, as a region, let’s see if we really can make a difference, starting by educating ourselves to enable us to raise awareness, make a difference and advocate for the victims.

I encourage everyone to become as involved as possible with everything going on regionally as well as within their own clubs. 

Regional meetings give us the opportunity to share good practice and ideas and to meet up with friends old and new. 

We have some amazing speakers covering a wide range of topics including dance, literature and music to entertain educate and inspire us – all with the emphasis on ‘progress’.  

Please come to the Regional Conference, to be held here on 14th May to listen to Maureen Maguire, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Sarah Smith (BBC) and Kathy Betteridge (Salvation Army).  Although we deal with some serious issues there will be plenty of opportunities for fun and friendship too. 

Our regional meetings will be a mix of zoom and face to face when we will meet at Weston Village Hall with an opportunity to enjoy lunch afterwards in one of the village pubs.  I am very conscious that all clubs choose their own charities to support, but buckets will be placed at both face-to-face regional meetings for any loose change for Voice of Hope please.

I have tried to provide a varied programme and my emphasis, as we come out of lockdown, is to provide opportunities for us to re kindle our friendships and to meet in person. 

There is a regional day out on 15th August 2022 to Wollerton Old Hall Gardens with lunch and I am hosting a fund-raising garden party with afternoon tea at my home to benefit Voice of Hope on 11th June.  

More details on both these events to follow. 

For a bit of fun, we are having a regional photographic competition which will be organised by our three new members of Executive – Jenny McClelland, Mel Dudley and Val Jones.  Just to give you a flavour …. the theme will be your interpretation of ‘Progress not Perfection’.  The competition will be launched at the regional meeting on 27th November and closing dates for entries will be 28th January.  Full details will be sent to every club – so thinking caps on for your interpretation of the theme.  

Maureen Maguire will announce the winner at our regional conference next May and there WILL be a prize for the winner!

I am very much looking forward to visiting all clubs within the region. 

Please remember that I am only the ‘front person’ for this year and that region belongs to ALL of us. If you have ideas and suggestions or are not happy with anything then please talk to me – rather than keeping quiet – give me & Exec the opportunity to progress your thoughts. 

We are a strong region with many experienced members who know far more than I do, but I promise to do my very best. So please work WITH me, help me with your experience to the benefit of all.  

There are 18 points listed within the Regional President’s job description, but for me the most important one is to do the very best I can for our region by 

  • encouraging and supporting all nine clubs with the wonderful work which is already going on
  • by working closely with Chris Corless and the Programme Action leads in all clubs
  • by communicating with and listening to, our regional secretary Maureen Little who I know will ‘keep me on track!’

I certainly couldn’t do all of this on my own. Working together as a TEAM we really are so much stronger. 

Mother Teresa said, ‘’I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 

Let us as Soroptimists working within our clubs and the region do our best to make change.  We need courage and imagination, but let’s make as many ripples as we can and make progress even if it isn’t always perfect.

THANK YOU to my small group of planners – Chris Corless, Maureen Little, Katie Taylor, Jackie Bannister, Alison Elsmore and, working in the background, a very special thank you to Kate Moore for her encouragement and advice throughout the planning.

Thank you to Justin and his team here at Brocton and thank you all for the cards and good wishes I have received.

Finally – Thank you for allowing me to become your Regional President for this year.  I look forward to us working together to make as much PROGRESS as we can 

In the words of Helen Keller: ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’