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Presidents Message and Newsletter – Number 77


Good Morning Sister Soroptimists,

It’s hard to believe that since our last Newsletter that Christmas and New Year are over, however I do hope you all had a wonderful Festive Season with your family and friends.  I always think it is sad taking the decorations down as the house looks quite bare, but I do enjoy spending some time looking through the Christmas cards I have received and catching up on news often from people I haven’t seen for some time.  It is wonderful to hear from ex-colleagues, past students, from friends who have moved to different arras in the country as well as from current, kind, and supportive friends.

I am always amazed at the range of a6ractive and interesting designs, particularly those from friends who have the skills to make their own cards which are always very special.  It is also good to see that the majority of the cards support a wide range of charities so are going to help a worthwhile cause.  Whilst I do appreciate and enjoy receiving all my cards, I did receive a very special one this year which as more like a booklet than a card.

This Christmas booklet entitled “The Meal that was Two Thousand Years in the Making”  is about the origins and traditions surrounding our Christmas dinners and Christmas foods around the world.  It begins with an introduction about Isabella Beaton and her book on Household Management, published in 1861 which sold more than two million copies in the first two years.  The book gave all sorts of advice but it was the recipes and coloured engravings, many of which are reproduced in the booklet, that made her so well known. She was only 25 years old when she wrote the book with much of her knowledge based on her being the eldest of 20 siblings!  During the severe winter of 1858 she opened a Soup Kitchen in her own home for the poor children in Pinner where she lived –  another of my Excellent Women.

The rest of the Christmas booklet gives fascinating descriptions of the traditional foods eaten in the U.K. and other countries worldwide such as Poland, Mexico, Iceland, Lithuania, India, China and Iraq.  It emphasises the importance that sharing food can make such as communal Christmas Dinners and Christmas foods to bring people together from different countries.  This card goes towards supporting the work of Justice First whose values are to welcome, understand and support those seeking asylum from far off countries and finishes by saying “Christmas is truly a -me for sharing in whatever ways we can”.    I’m sure that we would all agree with this sentiment.

You may remember that in October we had two special events  –  Soroptimist International’s 100th Birthday and the SIGBI Llandudno Conference.  Our S.I. President Elect at the time,  Maureen Maguire,  spoke on both occasions about her Appeal “Opening Doors to a Brighter Future”.  On 1st January 2022 Maureen took up her role as our S.I. President for the next two years.  As a member of SI Portadown, she is the first SI President from Northern Ireland and will be seeking support for her Appeal.  The key objective of her Appeal is to provide education and training for all disadvantaged and marginalised women and girls.  Following on from my theme for the year,  Maureen is also an Excellent Woman for her commitment to Soroptimism and for her great achievements.

I send you all good wishes for 2022 and look forward to seeing you again in the coming year.

Take care and look after yourselves Best wishes          President Pam


I start this Newsletter with congratulations to S.I.Durham,  S.I.Newcastle upon Tyne and ‘Streetwise’  with the wonderful and colourful photograph which appeared at the top of the back page of the December ‘Soroptimist News’ where a collection  of  SIGBI Club’s photographs depicted the 16 Days of Activism .   If you haven’t read this latest e-magazine – then please do and remember to continue submitting your photographs for SIGBI to use to raise our profile.

In this edition of the Regional Newsletter,  we have two reports of very different club activities which reflect on our diverse project work  Internationally and within the U.K.

S.I. Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and District have worked hard with partners to achieve the inclusion of Whitley Bay as a Toilet Twinned Town.    This theme was chosen by Immediate Past Club President Louise Bower who launched it with a ‘Blue Loo Raffle’.  The prizes were a blue toiletries hamper and a chocolate hamper.  With the funds raised,  the club started by buying a latrine block in Tanzania.   

To get this Toilet Twinned Town award, a town has to have at least 20 toilets twinned and this has to include at least four from these six categories :

  1. Church or other faith community.
  2. School of other educational establishment.
  3. Public toilets.
  4. Cafe, pubs or restaurants.
  5. Local businesses or employers.
  6. Community organisations/charities.

So from one latrine block the project started to grown.  To twin a toilet it costs £60 and you receive a certificate to say where your toilet is twinned.  The club donated a twinned toilet to Newcastle Building Society,  a cafe twinned their toilet and then four club members twinned their toilets.   So the club was well on the way to getting Whitley Bay a Toilet Twinned Town status.

They got in touch with St Pauls Church in the town centre and they were keen to raise the funds to twin their toilets.  The parishioners raised enough to buy a latrine block comprising of three toilets –  also two taps to go in it. Next on the list was to get a school interested and this came about by talking to one of the parishioners who is a governor at Rockcliffe First School and they donated money to buy two toilets and the club donated another one so that all the school toilets are now twinned.

There was only the need for a public toilet to be twinned so on Saturday 20th November (  the day after World Toilet Day !)  club members Karen Lapworth (on the right) and Linda Johnson (on the left ) presented Sandra Graham ( centre)  from North Tyneside Council with the certificate to twin the ladies public toilets beside the Rendezvous Cafe on The Links promenade.   See the photograph above.    

( Editor –  if some of you members, while out walking along the Whitley Bay prom,  ever visit these ladies loos next to the popular Rendezvous Cafe then you may recognise the venue as one of the popular filming sets for the ‘Vera’ TV series  –  the cafe I mean – not the loos!)

The Joint Club Presidents Anne Gunning (on the left )  and Sue McSharry ( on the right ) presented  Norma Redfern, the Elected Mayor of North Tyneside,  with the Twinned Town Certificate. 

The photograph above shows the club members with representatives of their partner organisations on a lovely sunny morning.   This project was truly international with toilets being provided and twinned in not only Tanzania but also Nepal, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda,  Ivory Coast and Zambia. (  Editor:  for further information on Toilet Twinning –  see :          –  is this something that other clubs could consider for their next club year plans ?   )

S.I.Durham  have sent me a report about one of their 100 for 100 challenges – Walking 100 Km for Endometriosis along the Northern Saints Trails of Life and Love.

“Following the success of fundraising for Bright Red last year using the Just Giving page, S.I.Durham decided repeat the use of Just Giving and fundraise for Endometriosis UK by walking 100 Km,  which also supported the S.I. Centenary focus.    Joint Presidents Sue Percival and Geraldine Hudson chose to walk two of the Northern Saints Trails,  The Way of Life ( Gainford to Durham)  and the The Way of Love ( Durham to Hartlepool)  which together amounted to just over 100 Km.   Each of the trails is divided into 4 sections,  so 8 in total.  Sue and Geraldine completed  the 10ti.19 Km in 4 weeks and were joined by Vyvyenne Mack and Janet Ha2le on some of the trails and Alison Lacey helped with some chauffeuring to some of the starts.     Following are some of the extracts from the diary :

Saturday 13th November :  –  what a lovely day for the first leg of our Northern Saints Walk of Life from Gainford to West Auckland.  We walked 14.28 Km on some beautiful tracks and through several pre2y villages.

Saturday 20th November  –  Blessed with another beautiful warm and sunny day we covered 14.96 Km from West Auckland to Bishop Auckland.  There were a few tricky paths to negotiate and deciphering the route directions was challenging at times !  Still lots of autumn colours and the stretch along the River Wear, where we saw a kingfisher and a heron, was looking beautiful.  We also passed Escomb Church,  the oldest and most complete Saxon church in England. 


  The photograph shows Geraldine Hudson ( le‘) and Sue Percival (right)  at the start of the 3rd leg from Bishop Auckland to Tudhoe .

Tuesday 23rd November  –  another lovely day, although a lot colder.  The walk went from Bishop Auckland Castle through the Park and then along the Auckland Way.  After trudging through a very muddy field we had to find an alternative route around Whitworth Hall as it was closed.  All good though as we got back to the allotted Northern Saints route around Spennymoor and then through woods to our finish in Tudhoe Village having walked 12.92 Km.

Tuesday 30th November  –  The walk today was from Tudhoe to Durham.  We covered 13 Km and felt very pleased with ourselves,  as instead of taking an alternative route towards the end of the walk,  we climbed the 224 Steps of Doom to the top of Mount Joy and soon after we were rewarded with a wonderful view of Durham Cathedral.  So ends our first Northern Saints Trail of Life and we are now half way through our challenge to cover 100 Km !

Saturday 4th December  –  We set off from Durham on the first section of The Way of Love. The weather was mixed with several showers,  but we also had some sunshine.  We discovered some new footpaths, which neither of us had trodden on before,  but we also found mud, lots of it !  Our total walk today was 15.4 Km.

Wednesday 8th December –  a shorter walk today,  8.8 Km.  We set off in heavy rain from Kelloe and followed two lovely mineral lines.  Lucky for us the rain eased up and we even saw some blue sky and sunshine as we approached our finishing point in Trimdon.

Friday 10th December  –  We had a sunny day for our longest walk so far of 1ti.8ti Km from Trimdon to Hart.  Another lovely varied walk with long stretches along former mineral lines and beautiful if not challenging routes,  due to the sodden ground and fallen trees, through Hesledon and Nesbit Denes.

Wednesday 15th December –  The final section of the Northern Saints Trail for the Way of Love was from Hart to Hartlepool Headland,  following some of the coastal footpath.  We covered 9.96 Km making our total of 10ti.19 Km.   “ The photograph  shows (left to right)  Vyvyenne Mack, Geraldine Hudson,  Janet Ha2le and Sue Percival  outside St Hilda’s Church on Hartlepool Headland  –  at the very end of this 100+ Km walk.  

The full story can be read on the Just Giving page :  h6ps://

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To date S.I. Durham have raised  £1100,  which includes gift aid.  The Just Giving page will remain open until the end of January 2022.

(Editor :  more about these walks can be found at h2p//  where a full description of these 6 ancient pilgrim routes which position the North East as the ‘Christian Crossroads of the British Isles’ can be found.   The six walks are The Way of Light;  The Way of Learning; The Way of the Sea; The Way of the Angels plus the two that are described in this report.     You can purchase on line a 55 page full colour guide for £5 + P&P.   ) 

🚶🚶🚶🚶   👏

There must be many more 100 for 100 pledges that Clubs and their members have undertaken.   Maybe a long list of them all would be difficult to portray here in the Newsletter but this photograph is of over 100 Christmas Puddings which S.I. Tynemouth, Whitley Bay  and District donated to a local charity ‘North East Homeless’ which operates from the Fish Quay Hub at North Shields seems to be a cheerful depiction of our thoughtful support for others less fortunate.    At Christmas the Hub provides  ‘Christmas in a Box’ for families in the community.   The final number of puddings collected was 158 and they all went to good homes !     I will try to compile a longer list of all the 100’s that have been reported to  include next time.

The New Year is a time for making new promises and pledges to focus on important values in our lives.   This is our pledge : 


The Sincerity of Friendship

The Joy of Achievement

The Dignity of Service

The Integrity of profession and the love of all mankind.

We endeavour to put forth our greatest effort to promote, uphold and defend these ideals for a larger Fellowship in Home, in Society, in Business and among the peoples of the world.

The next edition of this Regional Newsle2er will be on Sunday 23 January 2022 so please do continue to send in items of club news for us all to share.   This is YOUR Newsle2er so contributions are always welcome for immediate or later inclusion.

With every best wish for a happy and healthy 2022  –  keep safe and well in friendship

Christine  Lumsdon

Joint Immediate Past President  and Editor