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Regional President’s Message – May 2022

This is my sixth Regional President’s Message. I can’t believe that I am over half way through my year as Regional President and there is still so much more I want to do!

My recent conference at Brocton Hall Golf Club gave us plenty of ‘food for thought’ as well as a much needed opportunity to meet up in person and enjoy each other’s company! 

We had 100 guests and delegates – the absolute maximum allowed and still had a waiting list. I’m sorry if you didn’t manage to secure a place on this occasion. We always have to balance available funds against the facilities we purchase so there are inevitably compromises, and we genuinely could not have squeezed anyone else in as health & safety considerations would not have allowed this.

Dame Tanni Grey-ThompsonThe event was extremely successful, involving many hours of planning and team work. Every speaker was a highlight but especially Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and who could forget the Bollywood dancing too?! 

The three winners of the Regional Photographic Competition were presented with their prizes by Maureen Maguire. Well done to them. And didn’t we enjoy the sunshine and the opportunity to reconnect properly after so long? The atmosphere was so happy and I received many positive comments including ‘this is federation quality!’ 

Thank you for all your responses to the Conference questionnaire, the results of which have been collated and discussed at a follow up meeting. Nothing is ever ‘perfect’ and we can learn so much from your useful comments. We will do our best to address any suggestions and ideas for improvement in our future planning.

If you were unable to attend, you can read a detailed review of the entire event here.

Now that booking is open for the SIGBI Belfast Conference I would encourage all of you, if possible, to go. At a major conference like Belfast you can appreciate more of the bigger picture and the international aspect of our work too. The SI Conference in Dublin in July 2023 is also something to look forward to. 

One of my main aims this presidential year is to encourage us all to work together – not only within our clubs – but between clubs and Region. Clear and open communication is at the heart of so much. Region is accessible to everyone and we all need to be professional, open and transparent. 

Several regional posts will come up for election in September at this year’s AGM and instead of simply assuming post holders will go on for a second term unopposed, your Regional Executive – as part of the Constitutional Audit recently carried out with the input of all clubs – has unanimously agreed to require an election for all second term post holders. The roles coming up for election will be Regional Secretary, Regional Communications Officer, Regional Programme Action Officer and Regional Trustee of the SIGBI Benevolent Fund. Separately the role of Vice President will be up for election as normal, though this is a one year role with no option to continue of course.

At our Regional Conference on 14th May SI President Maureen Maguire talked about ’flexible mindsets’ when dealing with change and disappointment. Flexibility is essential for us all as we learn to accept change.

We have to evolve in order to move forward. 

Members of Lichfield Club Wearing Green in honour of Mental Health Week 2022
Members of Lichfield Club Wearing Green in honour of Mental Health Week 2022

I attended Lichfield & District’s Business Meeting on 11th May during Mental Health Week and we all wore green in support of that. The main theme of their meeting was Membership – how best to retain existing members and attract new ones. During my speech I asked if anyone knew what tropophobia meant. It is the fear of moving or of making changes.

Most of us fear change in some or all aspects of our lives. It’s human. The favourite phrase is ‘We’ve never done it like this before.”

Our history is important, it’s what has made us what we are, and we can learn good things from it,  but we have to move forward in order to survive as an organisation.  We need more new members and we need to retain the ones we have. That means really understanding what people want from an organisation like ours, and then making sure we deliver it. Even if it’s different in some ways from the past. We won’t throw the baby out with the bath water, that’s for sure.

As always we strive for ‘progress not perfection’ in everything that we do. 

The next regional event is my Garden Party in aid of Voice of Hope on Saturday 2nd July at 2’30 – 4’30 pm so save the date! All are welcome including prospective Soroptimists. Katie Taylor of Stafford Club is coordinating this and we have invited a member from each club in the region onto the planning team.

Day of Action Picnic Poster 2022Saturday 9th July is the next Regional Council and Programme Action Meeting which will take place in person at Weston Village Hall, and the Three Regions Summer Picnic will be held at The National Memorial Arboretum on 16th July from noon onwards. Again all are welcome including potential new members. You don’t need to let us know if you are coming but you should book parking via the NMA website here.

Thank you for your support, and please continue with me on my Soroptimist journey. 

In friendship, Judith