Around 125 delegates attended the Northwest Regional Conference on Saturday May 13 – some arriving on the Friday evening and the others coming in time for coffee and biscuits on the Saturday morning.
After the housekeeping announcements and welcome from Regional President Angie Christopher, Conference Chair Judith Grocott introduced the first speaker, Federation President Ann Hodgson. Ann admitted this was her first time visiting the Northwest region. She enthused about the future of the organisation telling us to think outside the box and try new things.
Emily Rose Yates was the next speaker. A personable and vivacious young woman who admitted she like to talk about herself. Emily told us of her adventures as a wheelchair user from cage diving with sharks to being the first disabled woman to cross the Sinai Desert via camel. She has achieved much and her need for a wheelchair has not hindered her one bit. She was an inspiration.
Next came Mike Hagen from the charity Classrooms in the Clouds. CitC works to support education in remote areas of Nepal and Mike explained how it aims to provide affordable, accessible and sustainable education to the children most in need in Nepal. Mike and his wife, Sarah were recipients of the Prime Minister’s ‘Point of Light’ award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers.
Delegates then enjoyed lunch before the next three speakers.
Firstly came Sharon Smith, a Detective Sergeant with West Midlands police. Sharon heads a team which has responsibility for adult safeguarding, domestic violence and vulnerable adults. This includes arranged/forced marriage and fgm. She recounted a ‘Love Story’ – the harrowing tale of a young girl forced into a marriage by her parents. When she met someone and fell in love of her own accord she was murdered by her father. A story to make us all stop and think.
The next speaker was Victoria Whitaker who works with War Child UK as a child protection advisor.
The final speaker was Sarah Brook, an amazing young woman who – at 27 years old – is CEO and founder of The Sparkle Foundation which was established to create brighter and sustainable futures for vulnerable people round the world. The current project is Sparkle Malawi which provides education, food, medical treatment and tlc to hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children in rural villages in Malawi.
After questions and the Vote of Thanks, Regional President Angie closed the afternoon session after which Margaret Davies gave details of the next Regional Conference to be held in Southport next May.
It was an interesting, enjoyable and stimulating day. It wasn’t always easy to listen to the narratives of the speakers but Soroptimists know that the world isn’t a fair place and hopefully, the Conference will inspire us to work even harder to help those who need it.
Karen Rainford (Preston)
Regional Conference 13 May 2017 – Feedback Form