At the club meeting in June, on Zoom, we heard from Sophie Lombard, the owner of Confiserie Verdonk in Wickham Square. She and her mother (now retired) have run the chocolate shop there for the last 20 years. The original Belgian owner, who gave the place its name, started the business some years earlier. Mr Verdonk and all subsequent owners have been purveyors of top quality Belgian chocolates. There have been hard times, when trying to expand to another shop in Southsea, and through the 2008 recession, Brexit and COVID-19. Friends in the Square helped out during the pandemic, allowing Click and Collect while the shop was shut, when Sophie set up a website. She has seen profits eroded by increased costs due to currency fluctuations and Brexit paperwork, but has stuck to a quality product with a continental style of packaging. See the box
At the club meeting in May, on Zoom, we heard from Dave Stubington, the Gosport Borough Council arborist who arranged for our 3 cherry trees to be planted in Lee-on-the-Solent Recreation Ground. They will need some tending over the next few years, but Dave and his team will be there to make sure they get established.He had started work with no particular interest in trees, but ended up responsible for over 70,000 of them! The storm of 1987 had seen him called out at 2am to collect a chain saw and deal with all the fallen and hung-up trees. He went on to study at Sparsholt College, and after he qualified, he took the new role of Tree Officer for the council.
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.