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SI St Albans and District AGM 2022 – Celebrating another Great Year in the Club’s 65 Year History

SI St Albans and District AGM Monday 25th April – marking 65 years since the Club was chartered in April 1957.

SISTA AGM 22 New Member Gill with Barbara and DebbieWe started the meeting on a high note by welcoming new member Gill Clegg to the club. Gill worked as an Occupational Health Advisor and is now developing her own business as a health and wellbeing coach. President Barbara Saunders presented Gill with her welcome pack and Debbie Tankard will be her mentor. The photo has Gill in the centre with Barbara left and Debbie right – sharing the hand of Soroptimist friendship with one another.

The AGM is a time for reflection enable us all to celebrate how much the Club has achieved over the last year. All of the Officer reports will be available to Members in the Members area of the Club website soon and there is just a summary here.

Our Treasurer, Sarah Lichman told us that events throughout the year raised over £2000 in spite of COVID and lockdown!

SISTA AGM 2022 Toilet Twinning for Barbara and KatThe Peace Team had a great year with the Orange the World campaign being the pinnacle! The team maintains their relationship with the Refuge and Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline.

Highlights from the Planet Team included tree planting, awareness raising on COP 26, supporting Sustainable St Albans, recycling projects and Plastic Free July.

The People Team is focused on health and education. Highlights included the 100 laps of the lake event, Toilet Twinning and supporting the Home-Start pancake race.

The photo above shows Sarah Lichman (centre) presenting Toilet Twinning Certificates to Barbara Saunders (left) and Kat Clark (right) – as thanks for their years as Club Presidents – Kat 2019/20 and Barbara 2021/22 – with both sharing the year with others 2020/21 – the full list is here

SISTA AGM 2022Outgoing President Barbara Saunders gave a short speech, summarized below, before we had the handover for the new Club Year and went on to enjoying drinks and nibbles and socialising together.

Barbara’s theme for her year as Club President was “Sustaining our Club and supporting our Communities” after the isolation of the previous winter. We have done that in bucket loads as the AGM reports show only too well.

5 new Members joined during the year – showing that our club is vibrant and active but above all visible thanks to our growing on-line and social media presence.  But I also have some important Long Service Awards to make.

SISTA AGM 22 Jane 25 Joan 55 Long Service AwardsBarbara presented long service awards to Joan Williams for 55 years and Jane Slatter for 25 years – congratulations Jane and Joan (pictured here with their awards) – we really value their experience and active contributions as Members of our Club.

Our Programme Action this year has been outstanding, and resulted in our selection as one of the 3 finalists for the Community Project of the year in the Mayor’s Pride Awards. Knowing that we are now in a position to build a firm foundation for this project and extend it year on year in the future is very special.

Barbara said that the most inspiring event of the year, for her, was to hear Richard Ratcliffe speak to us so movingly about his wife’s incarceration in Iran for 6 years and his ongoing campaign to get her home. We are proud to have shown solidarity and had a voice in the campaign to have Nazanin returned to the UK with her Human Rights restored.

We were able to take some small steps towards helping Refugees from Ukraine by sending funds to our friendship link in Poland, and strengthened our existing links to Herts Welcomes Refugees. There will need to be a lot more advocacy to ensure that the UK plays an even hand in its treatment of women and children among refugees in the UK in the future.

Barbara felt honoured to be President during Soroptimist International’s Centenary year. We played our part, by cutting a cake in Verulamium as part of our successful event to walk 100 laps of the lake. As intended, it was a commemorative, active and sociable afternoon, and there was a lot of fun as Jean Eaton, whose fabulous idea it was, had intended. In September we marked the Centenary of Soroptimist International and the International Day of Peace by lighting candles in solidarity with other Clubs around the world.

The year was packed with great events – a good mix of social as well as serious. Barbara said “I have had an amazing year with lots of highlights and no low points despite the presence of Covid throughout the winter months.” She went on to thank everyone for their collective support to make it such a success. “We have had an excellent year and hope, with your help, to make our 66th year even better.”

The Club’s President role is being shared this Club year, with a “rainbow presidency” of  Helen Byrne and Sarah Lichman – May to August, Denise Powell and Jane Slatter – Sep to Dec, and Barbara Saunders and Katherine Clark Jan-Apr 2023. To see all the Club Officers for the year 22-23 please see this page on the website

SISTA AGM Handover 2022This year the change of insignia went from President Barbara to Sarah Lichman, one of the first of the rainbow presidents for the year ahead. Sarah is pictured here on the right presenting Barbara with one of her thankyou gifts for her hard work during her presidency.

The last photo shown here is a beautiful friendship bracelet – presented to our Club in by our Friendship Link, Soroptimist International SISTA AGM 22 Barbara Chico braceletChico, California for our 60th Anniversary in 2017. Past President Denise Powell has been wearing it and has now passed it onto Barbara Saunders.