I thought perhaps you would all like to hear what the President gets up to in between meetings so I have decided to write a newsletter for the website – a printable version is also available here.
I hope you are all looking forward to the spring and summer and what the New Year in your club has to offer and I wish all new Presidents all the best in their year of office. The Regional Executive is working hard on our 3-5 year plan. We are very positive that we can make some changes for the better and we will be seeking your help and views to attain this. This is not a quick or easy task but we have to make a start and we are excited by the challenge. We also hope that all clubs will get involved in the Growing our Brand workshops because this is a good opportunity to develop your club and the region.
Since the Regional Meeting in February it has been an extremely busy and enjoyable time for me. SI Morecambe and Heysham held their annual coffee morning in Silverdale and despite the inclement weather it was a well-attended and enjoyable event. I joined some of the members for lunch at the Silverdale Hotel after and it was a good opportunity to get to know a few more members. I have also been to the SI Rossendale Antiques Road Show. Unfortunately I had nothing of any interest or value to show the experts but I did enjoy the tea and cake! SI Lancaster held their annual Wine into Water Supper which was a great success raising over £500. SI Pendleside members provided a delicious hotpot supper and puddings at their Friendship evening in Whalley. Paul Wright gave a talk about The Good Samaritan School in Uganda and the money raised from the raffle was donated to the charity. We were asked to wear something yellow – never did find out why! In March I was invited by South Lancashire Regional President, Margaret Molyneaux, to attend their Regional meeting in Leigh. The speaker gave a passionate talk about Fairtrade and the villages and projects he had visited across the world and also brought a large selection of Fairtrade items to purchase. This was a good experience and interesting to see how another region works.
As we all know March is a busy time for Charter events. First up was SI Preston at Stanley House Hotel. What can I say, we had a really lovely lunch but the best was yet to come with entertainment from Preston members. There was a monologue, a poem and singing. I don’t think the choir will be auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent just yet but it was all great fun. SI Fylde had an informal lunch and cosmetics demonstration to celebrate their 79th anniversary. It could not have been a better day to visit Lytham St Annes, which was bathed in early spring sunshine so with a lovely lunch and in good company it made for a delightful afternoon. Up next was my own club SI Blackburn where the speaker, Anne Houghton, talked about Beanstalk, a charity that trains volunteers to help children who fall behind with their literacy skills. I must say the one thing I was worried about when I took on this Presidential role was speaking in public and to talk at my own club was a daunting prospect. However, it has not proved as difficult as I had at first thought and I seem to be managing reasonably well although I would never make a living as an after dinner speaker! SI Burnley had their 74th Charter at Turf Moor and I very much enjoyed having the opportunity to meet members I had not met before.
Sadly two dinners I attended were the last for those clubs, SI Barrow 50 years and SI Douglas 65 years. At the Barrow dinner the speaker talked about her time working as a district nurse and midwife in rural Cumbria and she certainly had us in stitches! Two members of Barrow are founder members and I had the pleasure of presenting a long service award to Betty at the dinner and other members also received awards for 40 and 25 years of service. SI Douglas also had a good send-off, celebrating all they had achieved over 65 years. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Regency Hotel in Douglas, where the Soroptimist flag was flying above the entrance of the hotel. I was lucky to be in Douglas for the presentation of a yurt to the Girl Guides, which the club had purchased for the younger girls to experience camping. We are sad to be losing two clubs that have done so much work over the years but I know that some members from both clubs are remaining members in some form so we will still have some contacts in Barrow and the Isle of Man.
We have the Family Fun Day at Barton Grange garden centre coming up and we are hoping this will help raise the profile of Soroptimists in the region. The Rosebowl event is in May and I hope your clubs are well on the way to composing your entries for the Limerick competition. The annual Regional lunch at The Crofters is in June so please get your names down and join us on what is always a very enjoyable event.
As you can see I am having a wonderful time and I thank you for your support so far. I hope you have enjoyed reading the first Newsletter. Look out for the next issue at the end of June.
My very best wishes to you all.