In lieu of presenting at our speaker meeting in May, Paul Strong has shared with us the chapter he wrote for a book on Women in War. It describes the ‘Night Witches’ and Soviet snipers he would have mentioned in his talk to the club. Here are some extracts from his chapter, and a picture of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the most successful female sniper in history. The ‘night witches’ was the German nickname for a Russian female flying unit, formed in June 1942 by Colonel Marina Raskova as the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, and re-designated in February 1943 as the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Regiment. The ‘night witches’ flew night harassment missions, often making their final approach with the engines in idle to ensure surprise. Their main task was to damage or disrupt key German installations. The Germans soon learned to respect these women and
A group of thirteen club members visited the historic Whitchurch Silk Mill. Located on the River Test it’s the oldest silk mill still operating in the country. The mill was built in 1813 originally as a saw mill but then converted to a silk mill in 1817. It has had various owners over the years but was famous around the turn of the twentieth century when they made the silk lining for the Burberry jackets and coats worn by the military. At its peak it had nearly 100 workers but that shrunk to eight by 1901. 1985 saw the Building Preservation Trust buy the property which is now a working museum open to the public. Our visit started with a nice buffet lunch followed by a tour with a very knowledgeable guide around the property inside and out. Everyone enjoyed the experience along with seeing
Roxanne Martin joined us at our speaker meeting to talk about Red Box, a nationwide project to provide free menstrual products within schools. As their website says, the Red Box Project quietly ensures that no young person misses school because they have their period. Having started in Portsmouth, it is now a growing project nationwide, with supermarkets, and other venues, providing collection points for sanitary products, wipes, knickers and tights. These are then distributed by the coordinators to red plastic boxes in schools. Signs on the back of toilet doors say where to ask for the red box and put what you need in a paper bag to walk away with – it is designed for those having accidents, so they can sort themselves out and go back into class, or to supply sanitary protection for the length of their period if they have nothing
On a bleak November day, we attended a small Christmas Advent Fair put on by a local church group, with a stall of fun items for sale and information about WaterAid. The event started at 2.30 pm with a primary school choir performing at 3.00 pm and another school at 4.00 pm. The footfall through the hall was slow until about 15 minutes before each choir sang and then within a few minutes it fell away after families and friends had seen their children sing. SI Solent East was selling Christmas designed toilet rolls and little fun books on toilets around the world. We raised £135.90 some of which were donations into our ‘loo’. We also, had some beautiful hand made baby quilts for sale but none were sold. The delicious cake stall also had a lot left over (we always measure an event by
We heard about the work of World Vision from one of their Ambassadors, Sue Tinney. She explained that after her husband heard about their work in a radio news bulletin he was so impressed they had to get involved. Sue has been to visit projects in Senegal, and told stories about projects around the theme of empowering women and girls. World Vision is a children’s charity, aiming to “put children at the heart of international development plans”. All their work supports Sustainable Development Goal 5: gender equality. Their projects include setting up advocacy workshops, helping to give women and children a forum for voicing their concerns, and providing information about human rights and responsibilities. They sponsor women’s groups, such as a financial cooperative among market traders in Senegal, and another making papaya jam and fruit juice for sale. In Bangladesh a ‘Men Care’ project has
Pictured with club president for the month Carolyne Trew is Heidi Rehman, left, from the Breast Cancer Haven in Titchfield; she is wearing a floral garland from Hugh Bonneville, Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey, who had been filming in the area and attended the publicity event of a flower display at the Haven earlier in the day. After her own breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 34, Heidi realised there was little or no support for anyone facing that life-changing event (predominantly women, but men can also have the disease). She embarked on various personal fund-raising and awareness raising activities, including offering to be photographed to provide a positive image of reconstructive surgery; she was finally successful, and launched Breast Cancer Awareness month one October on Page 3 of The Sun newspaper! After meeting Sally Taylor of BBC South Today at a publicity event,
On what turned out to be a rather miserable day in late July the club held a BBQ. Thankfully Carolyne had planned ahead, and there was space to seat everyone indoors. She provided a wonderful spread, and we all enjoyed the event, raising £340 in ticket sales and £76 from various other donations.
Congratulations were the order of the day at the club’s September business meeting. Treasurer Ann Pibworth revealed that Rosemary Bell, pictured, had been a Soroptimist for forty years, making her the club’s longest serving member. Veteran Rosemary has served the club well in a number of roles including president and membership secretary.
The annual Contact Tea Party organised by S.I. Solent East was held at the Wheelhouse at Hill Head on on a lovely warm summer’s day in August and members worked hard to prepare the venue providing afternoon tea for 24 members of the Gosport and Fareham Contact the Elderly group and their drivers. They all enjoy the annual visit to Hill Head with the view of the sea and sounds of children playing on the beach. Club members had made a variety of sandwiches, egg mayonnaise, ham and tomato, salmon and cream cheese as well as scones with jam and cream, chocolate sponge, lemon drizzle, coffee and walnut cakes and lots of tea. The members attending really enjoy their visit to the sea and talk about it for many months and always look forward to the next visit.
The club supper meeting in July includes a local walk. On our walk this year we learnt about the history of Wickham, starting from Neolithic times but mostly spotting Georgian houses, or older ones with new facades added in that period. We learnt to spot early examples because of the windows flush with the brickwork and ‘catslide’ roofs which covered extensions to the back of houses. Apparently the layout of the square was originally defined in 1269 when the royal charter was granted to run a market and the annual fair. There are still signs of the burgage plots around the square, being a plot of land enough to feed a family with vegetables for a year and a pig! A fascinating tour by Mike Hollis of the Wickham History Society. We then enjoyed a hearty dinner at the Square Cow.