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SIGBI – Soroptimist International Great Britain & Ireland History

Soroptimists in Great Britain – In the Beginning

In 1924 three years after the first Soroptimist club was formed in America, the Greater London Club was formed in Great Britain  

Read more about  Establishing Soroptimist Clubs in Great Britain here  

First Soroptimists World Conference June 1928:

The Conference was held in Washington DC in 1928 and at this conference the United States and Canada formed the American Federation SIA and clubs already established in Great Britain, France, Holland and Italy formed the European Federation SIE.

Other significant milestones at this conference:  

  1. The decision that Soroptimist International conventions be held every four years from 1930  onwards.
  2. The constitution was agreed.
  3. The representative body would comprise the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the two Federations. 
  4. The “Soroptimist Emblem” was adopted for all members –
Read more about the Soroptimist Emblem here

Bristol England 1920 – Venture Clubs

While discussions regarding a Soroptimist Club were taking place in 1920 in Oakland, the idea for a similar service club was being discussed in Bristol England. The Officers of the Bristol Rotary Club invited prominent women to a meeting, as a result of which, the “Venture Club” was formed in 1920 with a motto of “Looking Further” – Read more about Venture Clubs and the link with Soroptimists here The purpose of the Venture Clubs is very much in line with the purpose of Soroptimists, however neither organisation was at this time, aware of the other’s existence. Soroptimist and Venture clubs did eventually unite which makes Bristol club the oldest club in SIGBI celebrating 100 years in 2020.

Soroptimist International Federation Great Britain & Ireland SIGBI

The Federation of Great Britain & Ireland was established in 1934 at the Soroptimist Convention in Paris, when Britain split away from the rest of Europe and became the third Federation of Soroptimist International after America and Europe. Margaret Adams then recently elected as President of the National Union of GB became the first President of the Federation of Great Britain & Ireland.

SIGBI Federation Conferences are held each year in different venues at the end of the Federation year –  October/November.  The Change of Insignia takes place at the end of Conference, new Federation Presidents take Office from  that date

To see list of Federation Presidents from the birth of SIGBI to the present day click here
“Behind the Scenes” at the 1939 Federation Conference of Soroptimist international Great Britain & Ireland in Buxton

Extension was progressing

Soroptimists in Great Britain and Ireland

In June 1935 it was decided to form  9 Divisional Unions (DU),  Each DU sending a representative to Federation meetings. These 9 Divisional Unions divided and sub divided and then increased, and in 1975 became 17 Regions –

Read more about Soroptimist Regions here

Soroptimists work in Difficult Times

During and after the First World War, woman achieved greatness. However, the Second World War was to show them at their very best.

Read more about Worldwide Soroptimists working together through World War 11 here:

A London Home

After the war in 1948 Soroptimist members made the momentous and far – sighted decision to provide members World Wide with a “Home in London”

To read more about  Number 63 Bayswater Road – a lovely Victorian building in the heart of London Click Here

Extension Overseas

By the 1950’s Soroptimists from Great Britain were travelling overseas and developing clubs in many countries.

Soroptimists in Africa

The first club in Africa to be chartered was Soroptimist Salisbury Zimbabwe in 1957 by the Federation President of SIGBI  Rebecca Morris, who also visited Bulawayo, where a club was formed and Chartered 2 years later.

Troubles came to this beautiful country and Soroptimists have been and still are in the forefront of efforts to help the people who have suffered great distress as a result of years of fighting.

Federation President Rebecca Morris also visited and chartered clubs in South Africa – Soroptimist work in Africa had begun –

Read about Soroptimist extension in Africa here:

Soroptimists in the Caribbean

Federation President Dorothy Griffiths visited Trinidad on holiday and in Port of Spain was able to establish a group of prominent women who signed a petition for the formation of a Soroptimist Club – the club received their charter in 1959

The story of Soroptimists in the Caribbean is one of steady growth and increasing service to the community with 12 clubs formed in six countries between 1958 – 1983

Read more about Soroptimists extension in the Caribbean here:

Soroptimists in South Asia

PAKISTAN – The Lahore Club in Pakistan was the first club to be formed in South Asia in 1967 and received its Charter from Beatrice Grosvenor in March 1969  –

Read more about Soroptimists in Pakistan here

SRI LANKA – There is one club in Sri Lanka – SI Colombo which received its Charter 1974

Click here to read more about Soroptimists in Sri Lanka

INDIA – The first clubs to be chartered in India was SI Bombay North chartered on 2nd September 1974  – there are to date 2019 Fourteen Clubs in India,  – 

Read more about clubs in India click here

BANGLADESH – There are to date 2019 two clubs in Bangladesh – the first club to be chartered was SI Dhaka in 1983

Read more about clubs in Bangladesh here

NEPAL – There is one club in Nepal – SI Kathmandu which received its Charter in 2012

Click here to read more about SI Kathmandu