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Presidents Message and Newsletter Number 88

Good Morning Sister Soroptimists.

What a lot has happened since my last Message from the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend at the beginning of June to my President’s Event last Saturday, 25th June.

However, I am starting with my President’s Event.  It was wonderful to see so many Soroptimists face to face again with the majority of clubs represented.  The Programme for the day was planned deliberately to allow time for everyone to catch up with friends so there was a real buzz during the day. 

As a continuation of my theme for the year “Exceptional Women” we had some excellent talks and discussions from four business women.  The first of these was Gail Gravett who gives Business Support and is a Mentor, as well as being a member of SI Penrith, and was an excellent facilitator for the day leading and directing the discussions. The other business women were Kim Bradshaw of Zero Pantry selling products with no plastics and minimum packaging; Hannah Hardill Jones designer and producer of beautiful Mereglass jewellery and Sue Jackson of White Space Coaching specialising in Health and Well-being and is co-author of a book. Although each of these women gave details of their businesses and issues that had affected them over the past couple of years such as Covid and Brexit they also highlighted the various charities in which they were actively involved. There were opportunities for members to purchase goods from the business women and spend time talking to them. Best wishes were given to Elaine Remy, a producer of delicious Jamaican Rum Cakes, who had hoped to join us but following major surgery for endometriosis and transport problems she reluctantly had to withdraw from the event.  

(The photograph above is of Regional  President Pam in the blue striped top,  with her four presenters at her special Annual President’s Event at Carlisle on 25th June 2022 )

The Auctioneer once again proved to be an ideal venue.  The food and organisation was superb and the staff coped admirably with the different dietary needs. The tables looked cheerful with blue and yellow serviettes, the colours for Soroptimists and showing support for Ukrainians.  The same colours were used in a lovely flower display, arranged by Patricia Gatherum, for the Reception table and included sunflowers, the national flower for Ukraine. 

Regional President Pam with Patricia Gatherum ( President Elect of S.I. Newcastle upon Tyne  – Pam’s own club )

I was delighted that our first face to face meeting had been such a success and the comments I have received from members attending the event have been very positive so I look forward to our AGM which will be held on Saturday 24th September at Scotch Corner.  

On Friday of the Jubilee weekend I attended a Street Party organised by some of my neighbours.  Fortunately it was a sunny day and we were able to gather in a large open field behind the houses. It was lovely meeting up with “old” and new neighbours. Everyone took food along and games were organised for the children and even for some adults! So a great time was had by all.

During the rest of the weekend like many of you I spent time watching the special events on the television which I will cover in my next Message. 

I was delighted to meet some of you on Friday 10th June when I attended SI Durham’s Platinum Jubilee Dinner to celebrate their 75th birthday at Ramside Hall. It was a wonderful event with great company, good conversation and excellent food. The highlight of the evening was an interesting and humorous talk given by Sue Snowdon, the first female Lord Lieutenant of Durham, about her role during the Queens Platinum Jubilee year. 

You may like to know that I went off to Leicestershire for a 4 day garden trip after my

President’s Event.  We saw a number of lovely private and public gardens, including

Barnsdale Gardens, created by TV gardener Geoff Hamilton, and Harlow Carr Gardens both of which provided mobility scooters.  I know this information is not related specifically to Soroptimists I thought those of you who enjoy gardens and flower designing may be interested. 

Finally, I would like to wish Joan, our wonderful, hardworking Regional Secretary, and her husband a belated 60th Wedding Anniversary. It was lovely to hear that they received a special celebratory card from the Queen.

Take care and look after yourselves. 

Best wishes.


Regional President


We begin this edition of the Regional Newsletter with some news from clubs about their Platinum Jubilee Events.   It was an exciting and fun filled long weekend from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June 2022 and celebrated in many different ways the wonderful 70 years of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The first report is from  S.I. Penrith and District  :

“ Members of Soroptimist International Penrith & District decided to take part in the town’s celebrations using their theme for the year of ‘Climate Change’ and the Environment.  We wanted to have a main focus on activities for children.

We had an area where the children could colour and decorate one of the different cardboard crown templates with various items which were almost all recycled, such as old jewellery, plus flowers and leaves from our gardens. A member supplied a chair and gold throw as a ‘throne’ so that when children had completed their crown they could sit on the throne and have their photograph taken.  ( see photograph below )

Another activity we provided was an area where we had compost, seeds and pots for the children to plant up the seeds.  We had made lots of cardboard pots from toilet roll or kitchen roll centres,  plus we had saved lots of yoghurt pots which could be used again or recycled.  We had baskets of compost, small trowels and lots of different seeds to choose  from.  We had a number of pots with little marigolds and sweet peas to show what might be achieved and these were given to the children who participated. 

(photograph below shows the gazebo with the prepared seed planting area.)

A popular activity was the Soda Fountains,  a small diameter cardboard cylinder was filled with mints which were then dropped onto a newly opened bottle of lemonade to create a fountain.  This created a lot of interest and mint flavoured lemonade was available to take away.

We had lots of posters hanging around our gazebo about Saving the Environment,  the types of items that can be reduced, reused or recycled ,  with smaller leaflets to give out to children.

We had an excellent response to all our activities, the sun shone all day and we were able to welcome local people and visitors to our stand.  We used all the crown templates and almost all the recycled items for decorating them and had very few seeds le^.  Altogether a very successful and enjoyable day.

Our stand was visited by Dr Neil Hudson,  M.P. for Penrith and the Borders who appeared to be quite impressed with our theme of Climate Change and the Environment, mentioning his attendance at the COP26 conference discussing this very important subject. Soroptimists make a difference to the lives of women and girls in the world every year,  literally  “Women inspiring action,  transforming lives”.    

S.I. Durham  report that “On Saturday 2 June,  five members of S.I.Durham represented Soroptimism at the Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving marking the Platinum Jubilee of H.M. The Queen at Durham Cathedral.   (see photograph below of Joint Club Presidents  Sue Percival and Geraldine Hudson  with other club members). 

The service was attended by representatives of many local organisations who had been invited to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.  The service was led by The Dean of Durham, and he was joined by an official party including the Queen’s representative, the Lord Lieutenant of the County, Sue Snowdon, accompanied by the High Sheriff of the County Palatine of Durham, Shona Harper-Wilkes, the Right Worshipful The Mayor of Durham accompanied by his Mayor’s Bodyguard, and the Bishops of Durham, Hexham and Newcastle.  The service included readings by a number of people and  a concluding prayer written by Ava Park, who won a competition held by the Bishop Hogarth Catholic Educational Trust, and a new composition called “The Call of Wisdom” written by a local, internationally known, composer, Will Todd, performed by the Platinum Children’s Choir singing with the Choristers of Durham Cathedral.  The service was very moving and we all le^ feeling inspired. “

Meanwhile, many other clubs have been busy engaging on their Programme Action themes. This next report comes from  S.I. Stockton-on-Tees  :

“We are continuing to support the Billingham and Stockton Borough Food Bank as we have done for some years now and the latest delivery by Julie Everson was on 7th June.  In addition we invited the Manager Helen Winspear to speak to the club on Tuesday 14th June. It was a well attended meeting and Helen gave an excellent presentation about how the Food Bank operates, who donates to it, how vouchers are obtained, what constitutes a nutritious parcel and she identified 14 Community Pantries which do not require vouchers and operate independently.

Photograph below shows Food Bank Manager Helen Winspear in action.

At our May meeting, we heard from Susan Manasaray who founded the charity “Purple Rose Health and Wellbeing”, which helps those who are seeking asylum using her experience of obtaining ‘leave to remain’.     She operates a Drop in Centre weekly and has established a Clothes Bank and has a storage facility where she keeps household items and furniture which are necessary for when the Refugees have their own place.  During the Pandemic, Susan cooked and delivered meals to the local community. She describes what she is doing as ‘giving back’ to the community which has become her home.  She is also a school governor and Chair of the Stockton Refugee and Asylum Forum. 

Liz Wood and Joyce Chesney made a delivery to it on Friday 17 June taking about 10 bags, mainly clothes.  There is a need at present for summer T shirts for which we have made an appeal to our members. “

(see photograph alongside of Liz Wood with Susan Manasarey and the delivery of bags to her )

This  following report on “Violence against women and girls –  introducing the President’s Charity for 2022 – 2023 has arrived from  Margaret Parsons (President of SI Tynemouth, Whitley Bay & District ) :

S.I. Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and District has for many years supported Harbour, a charity which works with families and individuals who are affected by abuse from a partner, former partner or other family member,  in particular Harbour’s refuge in North Tyneside.  At our meeting in February 2022, guests from Harbour shared with members the challenges they are facing in supporting high numbers of victims, mostly women, in need of help.  The significant rise in numbers is one of the consequences of the pandemic, made worse by the fact that domestic abuse was not one of the listed reasons for leaving the home.   In order to help with the response to these demands,  President Margaret has nominated Harbour as the Presidential Charity for 2022 – 2023.

Throughout the year, our programme will include a regular focus on issues relating to domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.  We began in our June meeting with two guest speakers,  Kim McGuiness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner,  and Claire Wheatley  from Northumbria Police,  now a Superintendent in Harm Reduction in the Communities Team.   Kim stressed how important prevention is in tackling the problem and emphasised the need for a fundamental culture change in order to reduce violence against women and girls.  The Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit is central to this vision, and it

works to stop violence occurring,  ending it when it does and providing help for people trapped in dangerous situations.  Kim highlighted the importance of addressing factors such as poverty and mental health issues and stressed the importance of education,  starting with young children learning how to recognise and deal with emotions as a secure basis for their future relationships.  Victim support services are also central to Kim’s vision and there are now specialist support staff in the Northumbria Police control room who respond when a call relating to gender-based advice is received.

(The above photograph shows President Margaret Parsons at the back right side with Shirley Hallam on the left  –  and Kim McGuiness seated on the le^ in front with Claire Wheatley in front on the right.  )

Claire then complemented Kim’s talk by describing her work in Northumbria Police’s response to violence against women and girls and its support for victims and vulnerable people.  She again emphasised how important education is,  in particular educating men on the fight to reduce domestic violence.    S.I. Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and District has worked with Claire for several years in her former role as Detective Chief Inspector leading on domestic abuse to provide New Start Bags for women escaping from domestic violence and modern slavery.  We were delighted to present 2 more New Start Bags,  bringing the total donated by the club to 132.  Claire also received some Care Bags which contain essential hygiene products, bringing that total donated to 30.  She described how important the New Start Bags are to women at a time when they are in great need and emphasised just how much difference they make.  Violence against women and girls of course,  is manifest in many different ways,  and members of our Peace Group reminded us about the U.N. Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on 19th June.  I’d like to end by sharing a recommendation for a book that you might want to read.  It’s called   “Our Bodies, Their Battlefield.  What War Does to Women “  by the journalist Christina Lamb.  This book will shock you and and make you angry but the courage of the women who tell their stories will move you and inspire you. “

Editor :

Many thanks to the clubs who have sent me these reports of some very interesting activities.   


Saturday 6th August at 10.30am for an hour :  The Virtual Regional Coffee Gathering on

Zoom.  Very informal –  NO business !  Request a link to join us from Margaret Ayton   (  )

Sunday 7th August :  Next edition of the Regional Newsletter.  Please send submissions by Wednesday 3rd August.   All reports and photographs from clubs and individual members are very welcome.

We every good wish that you are all well and enjoying the summer months  –  in friendship

Christine  –  Editor

email:   chris&