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Presidents Message and Newsletter Number 89

Regional President Pam’s Message

Good Morning Sister Soroptimists,

I hope you and your gardens all managed to cope with the hot weather!   Fortunately, I don’t think any of you in the Region have been placed on hosepipe bans yet although I realise some areas are badly affected by water shortages.  

When I wrote my last message I only had space to mention some of the events during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee so indicated that I would address others in this message.  As already mentioned the weekend began on the Thursday with the Trooping of the Colour where the Prince of Wales took the salute on behalf of the Queen.  That evening the next major event was the lighting of more than 7,000 beacons across the UK and in a number of Commonwealth countries.  The Queen began lighting the principle beacon using the Commonwealth Nations Globe from Windsor.  This in turn lit the Tree of Trees, consisting of 350 native trees outside Buckingham Palace.   Locally it was lovely to see a beacon being lit at Hadrian’s Wall by shooting a flaming arrow from the hill side into the beacon.

On Friday a Service of Thanksgiving was held at St.Paul’s Cathedral acknowledging the Queen’s dedicated service as monarch.  Although she did not aYend the service in person she did watch from Windsor Castle.  Senior members of the royal family, with dignitaries from the Commonwealth, aYended the service with Prince Charles representing the Queen. A concert was held in front of Buckingham Palace on the third evening with present and past singers and entertainers performing.  The concert began with music from ‘Queen’  and ended with Diana Ross.  Prior to the concert Paddington Bear was ‘seen taking tea’ with the Queen who showed she kept a marmalade sandwich in her handbag in case she was hungry! On the final day there was a magnificent street Pageant along the Mall to illustrate changes over the 7 decades of the Queen’s reign.  It began with a military spectacle celebrating Armed Forces from all three services in the UK and across the Commonwealth.  With a cast of thousands, popular music, dance styles, fashion, youth culture and classic vehicles for each decade were included and demonstrated on double decker buses and by many street performers.  Immediate members of the royal family joined the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace amidst cheering which bought the Platinum Jubilee Weekend to a wonderful finale.

I had been looking forward to attending S.I. Sunderland’s meeting on Wednesday 13th July however a few days after my wonderful gardens trip I tested positive for Covid and had to postpone my visit.  Fortunately, we have been able to reschedule my talk to Wednesday 14th September.

Finally, we must remember the Lionesses and their manager, Sarina Wiegman, who became the winners of the UEFA Women’s Euro Football Championship last Sunday at Wembley.  The match which saw the Lionesses beat Germany by 2 goals to 1 was watched by 17 million viewers.  It was a marvellous achievement and has done a great deal to raise the awareness of women’s football in the U.K.   In recognition of her talent and determination, Beth Reid was awarded The Player of the Tournament and Top Scorer.  She also won Player of the Match twice, once for a hat trick and her impressive performance against Sweden in the semi-finals and secondly for her individual and team performance.  Up to 7,000 fans turned up the next day at Trafalgar Square to celebrate the team’s success.


Thanks to Patricia Gatherum we will have a very special guest at our next Regional Council Meeting and AGM who will present the Regional Best Practice Award Certificates to those clubs who have been recognised for their outstanding Programme Action work.

Soroptimist International President  Maureen Maguire,  has kindly agreed to come specially to attend our AGM.  This is a great honour to have such an ‘Exceptional Woman’ willing to spend her precious time with us on Saturday 24th September at Scotch Corner.   Therefore, I look forward to seeing many of you at this meeting.

Take care and look after yourselves

Best Wishes                     Pam        your Regional President

Editor :  Thank you President Pam for reminding us of that marvellously joyful long weekend celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  We have one more report of club activities linked to the Jubilee and many of us will remember what a wonderful evening it was too – at S.I. Durham,  who have sent in this report:



On Friday 10th June 2022, S.I. Durham   hosted a Platinum Jubilee Dinner with a very special guest of honour,  Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Durham, Sue Snowdon.  We were joined by sister Soroptimists from other clubs around the region, and even a member from Northern Ireland!

There was a celebratory atmosphere at the Ballroom, Ramside Hall.  Our event committee had made a superb job of dressing the venue, with balloons, bunting and beautiful table decorations !  Favours for guests included a commemorative Platinum Jubilee brooch and a crown shaped chocolate truffle from local chocolatiers ‘Chocolatrice’ (their delicious chocolate can be purchased online at  ! )   

After a superb three course meal Sue Snowdon gave her after-dinner speech.  Sue explained the role of the Lord Lieutenant as the Queens representative in County Durham.  She is the first woman to hold the role and has a great many anecdotes from her time in post!  

    This photograph above shows the Lord Lieutenant of Durham Sue Snowdon with Joint      Club Presidents Geraldine Hudson ( on the left ) and Sue Percival ( on the right).

It was very interesting to learn how Sue is involved in planning and hosting royal visits to the area, her involvement with the armed forces and her commitment to the young people of the area.  This Jubilee year has been particularly busy with celebratory events.  Sue told us how children from primary schools across Durham were selected to join the Choristers of Durham Cathedral to form the Platinum Choir to perform an anthem “The Call of Wisdom” written by local composer Will Todd in the Thanksgiving Service in Durham Cathedral during the Jubilee Weekend.  Those of us who had been at the service agreed how beautifully the children had sung !

The evening was a great success, and lovely to see people face-to-face again.  It was a chance to renew old friendships and make new ones. GOD  SAVE  THE  QUEEN  !

Our next report is from S.I. Carlisle who are continuing their dedicated support to the Homeless Women’s Hostel   :

S.I. Carlisle recently made their largest yet delivery to their local Homeless Women’s Hostel and with help from families and friends were able to provide and deliver:

1 pair of curtains with duvet set to match; 4 pairs of curtains; 3 single duvet sets; 1 sheet; 3 suits of pyjamas; 3 small shopping bags; a shopping trolley and a large selection toiletries.

These items are all shown in the photograph below :

They were then loaded into a member’s car boot before shopping for long-life groceries en- route to the hostel.  It took 2 members with a trolley each to collect all the shopping.  The supermarket kindly provided 4 very large boxes to stack them, and the car boot was so full we only just managed to close it!   

The groceries included 240 tea bags; 3 jars coffee; 4 bags sugar; 4 cartons of long-life milk and 11 packers of biscuits.  These ensured that everyone had the necessary item to make that ‘cuppa’ which can be so comforting when anyone is suffering from stress.  

We also provided a few items to make easy meals until benefits could be claimed.  They were 10 packets of breakfast cereals; 6 jars of pasta sauce (we were told that they already had a large stack of pasta );  6 tins of chunky soup, 4 packs of noodles; 2 tins tuna and 2 tins corned beef.

Sharon was on duty when we arrived at the hostel, and she was delighted when she saw the contents of the car boot.  She produced a very clean wheelbarrow to help us unload it all, since she didn’t have a trolley available.  What a pity I didn’t think to take a photo of her pushing it up the ramp into the entrance hall, since she had to do that 4 times!

The need for food for the ladies is going to become even more important as prices are rising. We now have a raffle at every club meeting and all the cash we raise is going towards this. We hope to make a food delivery at the hostel once a month, always checking in advance which items of food are most needed.  

Thank you to Jess Sinclair for keeping us informed of their club’s much needed support to the homeless women in Carlisle.

Our next report from S.I. Newcastle upon Tyne shows progress at the small holding ‘Fallowlees’  in the Harewood Forest where the West End Women and Girls Centre is developing an outdoor farming space for their members to work, relax and grow  :

S.I.Newcastle upon Tyne  on Thursday 30th June,  undertook some hard work as part of their Programme Action on Climate Change  and in remembrance of one of our late members ( Dorothy Sisterson ).    We were finally able to plant our trees at the West End Women and Girl’s Centre farm in rural Northumberland.  The planting had been delayed until the deer proof fencing could be installed and this had taken time due to the shortage of zinc required to make the fencing as a result of the conflict in the Ukraine.    The trees were a mixture of Rowans and Hazels and will form a natural screen inside the metal fencing as well as a more biodiverse habitat for local insect and bird life.   Lesley, a friend of one of our members, planted a silver birch in memory of her mother.  

The first photograph below is of Patricia Gatherum with her Rowan tree, spade and stakes ready to start planting.   The rough grassland made digging hard!   This photograph gives some sense of the isolation of the farm which is 6 miles from the nearest road and accessed via a  very long and winding forest track.

In the photograph above are the club members ( from the left )  PA Lead Christine Lowthian; Kath Shearer; Christine Lumsdon;  Joint President Margaret Ayton;  Shireen ( Lead gardener); Jill Heslop ( Project Development Worker );  Patricia Gatherum;  Lesley – a friend; and Lis Graham.  Off screen we were also joined by Cris Young who took this photograph. 

It was amazing to see how much progress has been made since December.  Also, to see the good use the Centre has made of the Grant of £9,795 from the Churchill Fellowship Trust, obtained through one of our members.  

The majority of this grant had been used to re-covered and renovate the old poly tunnel which now provides shelter from the weather for growing activities.  There were three planted beds with crops ready to harvest.    The former derelict poly tunnel had been used for some time as a sheep pen so there was no need to add fertilisers to the soil! 

The farm has a number of goats and sheep including some very vocal Jacob’s sheep, some black faced sheep and some black Hebridean sheep.  The sheep had recently been shorn and one use for the cleaned fleece was going to be to stuff cushions.

The photograph below shows the first vegetable beds inside the wonderfully spacious, weatherproof and renovated poly tunnel.

We enjoyed our packed lunches under cover in the barn together with Jill (the Development Worker) and Shireen (the lead gardener) from the West End Women and Girls Centre.  We were shown the architect’s plans for the conversion and use of the outbuildings which will provide overnight accommodation and a large kitchen for the Centre’s visiting members. We all thoroughly enjoyed our day out, the exercise, fresh air ( even the rain kept off until our lunch break) and company of friends.


S.I.Middlesbrough  will be visiting Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough on Saturday 20 August from 2.0pm to 4.0pm for their summer event and invite friends to join them.  No need to book!

Ormesby Hall is a National Trust property, and Grade 1 listed building.  The 18th century manor house was the former home of the Pennyman family.  It stands in extensive grounds to the south of Middlesbrough.  The address is Church Lane, Middlesbrough TS3 0SP. Admission is  £6 for adults –  free to N.T. members.

The visit may include the house itself, with drawing room, bedrooms, gallery and kitchen. Guides will explain the various features, paintings etc.  There is a summer garden as well as extensive grounds for longer walks.  There is also a second-hand bookshop and cafe.

Also,  S.I.Middlesbrough are holding a Quiz Night on Friday 9th September from 7.0pm to 9.0pm at the Acklam Green Centre, Middlesbrough  TS5 4JS.   Tickets are £10 including a buffet.  Please contact secretary Pam on  for further details and tickets.

All members should have received notification of the 75th Anniversary of  S.I. South Shields and District at 2.0pm on Saturday 15th October 2022.   This will be a Prosecco Tea at the The Old Ship, 147 Sunderland Road, South Shields NE34 6NQ ,  with guest speaker Award Winning Animator Sheila Graber.  The cost is £20 per person and further details are as circulated or from Dorothy Seth  (  ).

The next virtual  Regional Coffee Gathering  will be on Saturday 3rd September from 10.30 to 11.30am.   All members are very welcome to join in the chat.  Just contact Margaret Ayton before the day on    who will send you the Zoom link.

The details of the next Regional Council Meeting are about to be circulated but please do sign up and attend this Regional A.G.M. and hear about the Regional Best Practice Awards and listen to Soroptimist International President Maureen Maguire who is our ‘Exceptional Woman’ on this special regional occasion.  

Date:  Saturday 24 September at the Scotch Corner Hotel.

The next edition ( the 90th ! ) of this Regional Newsletter will be in a month’s time on Sunday 4th September  so please do send me reports and photographs of your activities over the summer.   

With every wish that you are all well and enjoying life again – in friendship         Christine  –  your Editor