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Regional News


SI Bournemouth are celebrating with one of its members, Mrs Patricia Marchiori, who has been awarded an MBE for her services to education in the New Year Honours List.

Pat has been a member since 2016 and was Chair of the Ambitions Academy Trust, which had been established to manage schools in Bournemouth which were failing or in need and of which there were 13 in the Trust at the time of Pat’s retirement a few years ago.  Prior to her role at the trust she was Academic Principal at the Southbourne School of English for many years so there is no doubting her experience in the educational profession! Well deserved Pat and many congratulations.

A Memorable Annual General Meeting  – an MP, a video link with South Africa and busy clubs!

Members of SI Southern England region were thrilled to hold a face to face AGM this year now that the pandemic restrictions have been lifted somewhat.  The venue was new and a huge success at Alton Community Centre and members look forward to meeting there again in 2022.

Following the usual AGM agenda members enjoyed listening to Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, who spoke about her current role in Parliament as Chair of the Women & Equalities Committee.  She is aware, and keen to support, education to both boys and girls regarding ‘consent’ that is needed and that the 16-18 year old age group deserve priority. Caroline also covered topics in her remit on the committee such as child marriage, forced marriage, misogyny, harassment and the negative influence on relationships by social media.

A video link with soroptimists in South Africa enthralled members when they received an update from the two beneficiaries of the regions Volunteering in Pretoria (VIP) project. Koketso Chepape and Andile Zwane spoke of their experience during the two year project which enabled them to develop their skills as teaching assistants.  They interacted with members of SI Tshwane who worked in tandem with SI Southern England to ensure the success of the project.  They were fortunate to learn about soroptimism by attending several events and are to become members too! The project provided them with laptops which were clearly essential throughout the pandemic. The project has now been renamed the Barbara Watts VIP Project in memory of Barbara who was involved since the project’s inception and who sadly passed away suddenly in 2020.  In conclusion Koketso and Andile said, “You have done so much for us in just these 2 years. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for giving us such an opportunity to gain so much experience, exposure, and knowledge. We know that wherever we end up in life, we will be covered because of the connections we have made and the lessons we have gained throughout this journey. You have been such a blessing to us, may God bless you. “

The afternoon session provided members with updates on project work being undertaken by clubs in the region and many who were enjoying increased membership.

Celebrating the Soroptimist Centenary with Emily Wilding Davison 

SI Epsom members with Emily Wilding Davison’s statue

Congratulations to SI Epsom on the media coverage regarding their tribute to suffragette Emily Wilding Davison when they recently visited the new statue of her in Epsom’s town centre.

Members took a moment to reflect on how far the women’s movement has come in over 100 years.  One long-standing Soroptimist member for 47 years, Diana Porter, said “The statue of Emily acknowledges the efforts of suffragettes to obtain some recognition for women of their true role in society. We were pleased to donate funds to the Surrey History Centre enabling them to purchase ‘The Suffragette’ dated 13 June 1913 which documented Emily stepping out in front of the King’s horse on 4 June 1913, causing her fatal injuries.”

More information about the Emily Wilding Davison Project can be found here:

Regional, Relaxing and Repertory at Herriard

Last Saturday, members of Southern England gathered in Kay and Barbara’s beautiful garden. This was our first face to face meeting as a region for eighteen months. It was so lovely to see everyone again! We updated ourselves on Regional and Federation News, as well as hearing about the devastating floods that had affected ‘Number 63’ – our Soroptimist home in London.

Fundraising has started in order to renovate the hotel areas affected so please do treat yourself to a bottle of Number 63’s very own gin!

The Officers and other members had been working on a play telling the history of our organization, with online rehearsals. They were delighted to be able to share this with the attendees including a slide show to accompany our spoken words. Thanks to Sue Challoner whose research and creative skills have enabled clubs to tell our story!

Our next face to face meeting will be at the Annual General Meeting in November, but watch this space, and your inboxes, for news of other events to celebrate our Centenary.

Has this interested you?  Then please do contact us either through this website or our Facebook page.

Saturday 31st July 2021

A Centenary Celebration and Picnic!

The first face to face SI Southern England Regional gathering since 2020 and picnic will be held in the surroundings of Barbara and Kay’s beautiful garden at Brick Kiln Cottage, Herriard on Saturday 31st July.

Please bring your own lunch plus a cup/glass —  tea, coffee and soft drinks will be provided by our hostesses and if you wish, please bring a cake or plate of cakes, biscuits etc to share

The cost is £5.00 per head, to cover tea and coffee, plus a donation to the National Gardens scheme and Young Gardeners. There is lots of free parking available, no dogs please

Programme for the afternoon:

11.45am  Arrive and gossip over a coffee

12noon —12.30pm Regional News Update

12.30pm—1.00pm Time to explore the garden and view the PAC Showcase

1.00pm—2.00pm Lunch

2.00pm -2.30pm 100 years of Soroptimist Heroines, by Sue Challoner, performed by Regional Officers

2.30pm – 3.00pm SI’s Centenary Celebrations presentation

3.00pm — 3.45pm Tea (and cake)

4.00pm Depart 

Please register by email to

Closing date for bookings:  Thursday, 29th July.  

Bring any of the following items to the above mentioned event for recycling:

Collecting Clubs

Item Recipient
Salisbury,   Surrey Hills, Sutton Gently used bras Smalls for All
Salisbury Ring pulls from drink cans

Purple Community Fund

Winchester, Sutton, Woking Blister packs Marie Curie (via Superdrug)
Poole Postage stamps Bone Cancer Research Trust
Epsom Green milk bottle tops A Rocha
Winchester Haberdashery, sewing machines, carpentry tools Tools for Self-Reliance
Winchester Single bed linen, towels, toiletries, mugs Saints Hostel & Winchester Refuge
Winchester Plastic cream, yoghurt or          margarine cartons with lids Trinity Day Centre for the Homeless
Surrey Hills Pretty notelets and stationery Used for ‘From me to you’ letters
Surrey Hills Acrylic DK wool (200g per  blanket)

SI Winchester need your help with their Young Girls Online Project – Do you know any teenagers who can complete our survey?

One of the concerns of Soroptimist International is that young girls are able to live in safe and healthy environments. The Internet has completely changed these environments. Most Teenage girls can’t “just turn it off” and pretend that what happens online isn’t real, because for them, it is. This is the world they have grown up in and it isn’t that they are dedicating themselves to their devices, it’s that these are their preferred tool for communicating, sharing, and all the other things teens do as they grow into young adults.

However, we know that the online world can expose girls to online messages of hate, homophobia, racism and sexism. Issues that can lead to mental health issues and self-confidence problems.

The aim of this SI project is to understand more about the world teenagers experience online and how widespread some of the issues are. Once we have more information, we will be able to add our voice and support to charities, pressure groups and lobbyists who are pushing for change.

What can you do?

Do you know any teenagers who can complete our survey and help us gather the facts? It may be your child, grandchild, friend or neighbour. If so, please forward the message and link below, and feel free to share on social media or email. We are keen to get as many responses as possible.

Young people online survey – Anonymous

We would like to learn more about the online experiences of young people.

If you are aged between 8-18 please could you answer the questions below honestly. It will only take a couple of minutes and your responses will be held confidentially, and none of your personal data held on file.

Please ask your parents for permission before completing the survey.

This study has been produced by Soroptimist International (Winchester and District) which is part of a worldwide organisation of women, linked to the United Nations.

SI Weybridge made #IWD2021 a special success in March!

They supplied 100 Easter Eggs to Walton & Hersham Foodbank making a difference to the local community in this our SI Centenary Year.

SI Bournemouth held the much belated 2019-2020 STEAM Finals via ZOOM this week.  Click on the link and read how we did it.


Members & guests Zooming
Members & guests Zooming


Soroptimist International of Southern England welcomed members, guests and  Speaker, Nicole Jacobs, UK’s Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner to their ‘Orange Your Neighbourhood‘ event on 3rd December 2020.   The event was held as part of what is known as the ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence’ between 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and 10th December, Human Rights Day.

Since her appointment to the role of UK’s Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner in September 2019, Nicole has begun energetically putting her 20 plus years of experience in domestic abuse policy and intervention to work, driving improvements to transform the response to domestic abuse in England and Wales. She is committed to championing victims and survivors of all ages, status, and backgrounds, and to shining a light on practices that fail them.

In her live presentation Nicole explained the purpose of her role and its priorities and the importance of the Domestic Abuse Bill currently going through Parliament and her subsequent objectives related to it.  See the power point presentation here – Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs Presentation December 2020

 #OrangetheWorld: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect in support of #GenerationEquality.

Soroptimists Believe to Achieve Zero Tolerance against Gender Based Violence.

See how some of our clubs #OrangetheWorld ... SI Epsom, SI WokingSI Salisbury. 

Remembering Immediate Past President Barbara Watts

Immediate Past President Barbara Watts
Immediate Past President Barbara Watts

As Regional President of Southern England, having taken over only at the end of October 2020 from Barbara. I was looking forward to working with Barbara as my Immediate Past President. In light of the sad events of this week this will not be possible.

We heard that just a month after stepping down from two inspiring years as Regional President, Barbara passed away in her sleep. It is with much sadness that we heard this news.

Barbara joined Soroptimist International Epsom club in 2000 and throughout her twenty years as a member held several roles including President twice, Programme Action Officer, Secretary and Communications/Website co-ordinator. She became Region President in 2018, and due to no-one being President Elect she continued for two years. She finally transferred to SI Woking and District in March 2020.

Barbara has been a committed Soroptimist and will be greatly missed by Region and her club. She had an unshakeable ‘can do’ attitude, passion and great enthusiasm, which can be seen in the VIP project which we continue to move forward in her absence. The Volunteering in Pretoria project was featured in our last region meeting, and I am so pleased that she was able to participate in this and talk to the girls involved along with SI Tshwane. We will continue this project as much in her memory as in progressing the development of the girls’ education. Club members and close friends will miss her dynamism and passion.

Her most recent challenge was to start looking at setting up a club in Sutton, since the closure of SI Reigate some time ago, the area lacks a local club and Barbara saw this as an opportunity. Our Regional Membership Officer Liz Batten will follow up on this.

Our thoughts are with her husband and family at this very sad time.

Julie Blackwell

SI Winchester

President Southern Region

Members of SI Southern England welcomed their newly elected President, Julie Blackwell, at the annual federation conference.  They raised a glass via ZOOM!

 ZOOM screenshot welcoming President Julie


Southern Region Represented at Federation Development Day 


Four members of Southern England Region joined the SIGBI Development Day in Nottingham at the beginning of June. Right to left: Regional Secretary Diana Porter, Regional PAC Chair Ana Williams, Regional President Barbara Watts and Liz Batten took part in the interactive day which looked at strategies for recruiting and retaining members in our Clubs. Phase 3 of the Federation Growth Plan was launched and presented in the afternoon and all resources are now available on the SIGBI website. Any of those who attended are happy to share the learning and information they gained at the event with members.

Productive (and fun!) Local Partnerships

Members of the soon-to-be chartered Club of SI Salisbury have already been actively engaged in local community projects. Members of the new Club were invited to join the organising committee led by Salisbury Rotary and members of the local business community to devise and run community events during the year. At the Christmas Lantern Procession in early December members of the new Club turned out to help as marshals on the night.

At the late May Bank Holiday Family Fun Day members again supported the ‘fun float’ event as marshals and the new Club fielded a team to take part in the first ever Duck Race on another of Salisbury’s five rivers. A very wet but hilarious time was had by all. Congratulations to our team of Penny, Eleanor and Louise who claim to have really ‘got the hang of it’ after coming second in their second race, ready for a strong challenge next year, perhaps?

Soroptimist International of Winchester Recruitment Drive

SIW congratulate Liz Batten on her hard work for assembling the forthcoming SI Salisbury club.

However from April 2019 this will leave SI Winchester with reduced numbers. We have therefore embarked on a recruitment drive which we hope will make us more Winchester-centric.

On Friday 8 March, International Women’s Day, we were able to set up a display stand in an area of the Hampshire County Council offices (in Winchester) known as The Street. This is an area close to the cafeteria where we were positioned from 12-2pm over lunchtime and were able to talk to quite a few ladies over this period.

It was interesting to learn how many commuters to Winchester work from these offices so we were able to spread the word about Solent East and Southampton clubs. Gina Bird and Julie Blackwell manned the stand to talk about the Winchester projects and SIGBI as a wider topic. We hoped that this created awareness of the organisation and our club in particular, it would have been too much to hope for to get any commitment at that time.

The following day 9 March we held a much publicised event (newspaper/posters/social media) in the Quaker meeting house with coffee and cake. The attendance was minimal but we took details of five ladies, two of whom have since been to a supper meeting. We hope to run this again later in the year, having learned that a higher profile venue would be better and to ensure we have a full campaign in action.

Alresford Allsorts donation to Soroptimist International of Winchester

Soroptimist International of Winchester were delighted to receive notification of a donation from local motoring club Alresford Allsorts. The sum of £350 was presented by Gordon Cooper to Julie Blackwell of SIW at Bramdean village hall, which gave the opportunity for some of the Allsorts members and vehicles to be present.

SI Winchester supports local charities including Trinity House in Winchester and the Women’s Refuge as well as international and overseas charities which the SI organisation supports.

Julie Blackwell said, ‘The Allsorts have requested the donation to be sent to the Women’s Refuge in Winchester and as our club already supports this along with Trinity House, the day centre for domestic abuse victims, this is a generous gift from their members and will doubtless be much appreciated.

The Allsorts were looking to support the Refuge so this is a perfect match. The motoring club has been in existence for over 30 years and has a membership of over 50 with a range of vintage and classic vehicles. It raises money for local charities and SI Winchester is happy to facilitate this for the Refuge. To date SIW has donated to the Refuge by way of 2 x £100 Tesco vouchers.

For more information on Soroptimist International Winchester please visit

For more information on Alresford Allsorts please visit

Centre left Gordon Cooper and right Julie Blackwell