SI NORTHWICH – CHARTERED 18th MAY 1949
In 2019 SI Northwich celebrated its 70th anniversary. Our founder members must have had drive, ambition and energy to set up as a group of professional women inspired to offer service, raise money and help others in need. Our archives show that they made a huge success of it. Following a war that had changed our country there was much privation and hardship, sorrow and loss; but also hope for tomorrow.
Soroptimism flourished in the 1940s. Our ‘Grandmother’ club, SI Birkenhead, was chartered in 1943 and our ‘Mother’ club, SI Runcorn, is only 2 years older than we are. We had a ‘daughter’ chartered in 1967 – SI Knutsford – which unfortunately folded in the late 1990s.
From our earliest years service was at the centre of our club. Social services were non-existent, so the work within the community undertaken by the members was much needed and much appreciated. Fund raising helped to underwrite the costs of their activities. One of the first projects was to furnish a room in a home being set up for the elderly who had little money.
Support for the blind was one worthy endeavour, but the enduring support for the mentally handicapped is legendary. Founder member,Beryl Marsh had a severely disabled son of her own who suffered from Down’s Syndrome, was blind and also deaf. Her own experience fired her commitment to change attitudes and support parents at a time when such children were shunned by society. She had linked up with other local parents to form a group called ‘The National Society for the Parents of Backward Children’ which eventually became Mid-Cheshire Mencap.
Fund raising events to support our many charities has always been varied. Our biggest and most successful money raiser has been our ‘Slave Auction’ – now our ‘Auction of Promises’. It evolved from the club’s original Christmas auction of bric-a-brac when one member moved to Northwich from Whitehaven in 1989, bringing with her the idea of auctioning ‘service’, home-made cakes, chutneys, dinner parties etc. Year on year it has raised thousands of pounds in one evening. Our record stands at £5,000.
Our members’ service has primarily been offered to Cheshire Without Abuse (Women’s Refuge), the MS Society, Vale Royal Contact Centre, the Stroke Club, Home Start and Gleave Wood Care Home.
Our strength as a club derives from our friendships, and are strengthened by our contact during acts of service, our fund-raising activities and the social events purchased and provided at the auction.
Over 70 years on from our Charter, we are also in a changing world, and as a club we are ready to meet changes and challenges that would have been unbelievable in 1949. In embracing the modern technology that is now available to us we will be seeking to increase our profile, make ourselves more recognisable and well-known in our local area, and to attract new members to join us. We will be developing and expanding our website, and make great use of Social Media. Please do visit us again to find out more about us.