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Rebecca Bayley Beacon Victim Care
Soroptimists learn about Beacon – empowering victims in Herts

Soroptimists learn about Beacon – empowering victims in Herts

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On Monday, 27th June we learned from Rebecca Bayley, Head of Service at Beacon, Hertfordshire Victim Care Centre, about the work they do https://hertfordshirebeacon.org/ Catch22 is the victim care service provider for Beacon in Hertfordshire (and other counties). Rebecca told us about the innovative work Beacon are doing to support victims in the County, including victims of violence and abuse. They do ground breaking work particularly with women and girls and other vulnerable groups.  Their Beacon Family hub works with children about violence in families and they also have a Safeguarding Hub.  If you would like Rebecca’s presentation please email sistalbans@hotmail.com  Rebecca started with her own background, and that of the organisation. The need for the services they provide have grown and in 4 years they have grown from having 12 staff t0 23. Beacon work to the victims code of practice and help victims

Soroptimist St Albans OTW Collage
Soroptimists Orange The World 25 Nov for 16 Days of Action to End Gender Based Violence

Soroptimists Orange The World 25 Nov for 16 Days of Action to End Gender Based Violence

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Join Soroptimist International St Albans and District in Oranging the World and saying NO! to violence against women in 2022 The Global Orange the World Campaign is 16 days of activism to end gender based violence from 25 Nov to 10 Dec 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. We are building on our success last year when we ‘Oranged’ everyone and everything in this photo montage and more besides!  (see photos and read more about it here) – how many places and people will go orange this year? Please view and share our Orange the World Campaign 2022 Video (it’s just 1.36 mins): www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FEzejgA-ew As we mark the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign in 2022, this is your opportunity to join hands with survivors, activists, decision-makers and people from every walk of life, to shine a light on the need

SISTA Platinum Jubilee Celebration
SISTAs Celebrate the Jubilee

SISTAs Celebrate the Jubilee

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On Monday 13 June Club Members enjoyed a glass of bubbly to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee and toast the Queen. We put up the bunting and everyone wore red, white and blue or royal purple. Volunteers Week takes place 1-7 June every year. It’s a chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you, so before the corks were popped, everyone enjoyed a really interesting Club meeting called “My Other Hat” where  we heard about the volunteering being undertaken by three of our members: Jean Eaton who volunteers in a charity shop, Debbie Tankard who volunteers as a School Governor and Sarah Lichman who is a Generalist Adviser for Citizen’s Advice. Jean Eaton (pictured 5th from the right above) volunteers at the Hospice of St Francis  Shop in Marshalswick www.stfrancis.org.uk/shop-with-us/love-to-give-charity-shops/marshalswick Jean told us that she had always wanted to

Group Zoom SISTA Love Food Hate Waste 23-5-22
Food for thought and takeaways from Love Food, Hate Waste event for #SUSTFEST22

Food for thought and takeaways from Love Food, Hate Waste event for #SUSTFEST22

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The St Albans Soroptimists’ “Love Food, Hate Waste?” event for #SUSTFEST22 gave everyone “food for thought” and lots of actions to takeaway!  We heard from David Birley (pictured in the screenshots of his slides) Waste Aware Co-ordinator, Herts Waste Aware Partnership and Louise Palmer (pictured below) St Albans’ Recycling and Waste Officer. The meeting was chaired by Helen Byrne, Soroptimist Planet Team facilitator and co-President (see pic). David’s presentation can be downloaded here as a PDF: Food Waste – Waste Aware for SISTA 23 May David introduced his talk: how much waste is there? how much of that is food? how good are we at recycling food waste? should we be looking at reduction and not just recycling? How might we do this? How much waste is there? During the last 10 years there has been a gradual reduction of household waste, until COVID and

SISTA Bookstall SustFest22
Successful Soroptimist Charity Bookstall Sun 15 May Harpenden #SUSTFEST22

Successful Soroptimist Charity Bookstall Sun 15 May Harpenden #SUSTFEST22

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Our Soroptimist Charity Bookstall on Sunday 15 May for #SustFest22 was a great success raising almost £300 for the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge sahwr.org.uk and meant that hundreds of books were recycled to new homes! The May Harpenden Sustainability Market on Harpenden Common marked the launch of the 2022 Sustainability Festival for St Albans, Harpenden and surrounding villages. Sarah Lichman (pictured above on the right) organised the event with the Club’s Planet Team and we had lots of helpers on the day – pictured above l to r on the “early shift” with Sarah are Jane Slatter, Janet Tansley, Jean Eaton, Denise Powell and Diana Kingham. Thanks also to Louise Marron, Janet Audley-Charles, Madeline Skinner, Nicky Bloom and her daughter who were all on later shifts. A big thanks to our Member Linda Shall and Harpenden Lions David Shall and John Powell who set

SISTA Girlguide Becca Britton 9 May
Girlguide Becca fundraising for World 2023 Jamboree and Liz Perry with an update from the SAHWR Refuge

Girlguide Becca fundraising for World 2023 Jamboree and Liz Perry with an update from the SAHWR Refuge

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St Albans Girlguide Becca Britton came to talk to our Club on Mon 9 May – . she has been selected to attend the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in August 2023 and is the only Guide going from St Albans. There are 1000 Guides and Scouts going from the UK out of 40,000 from all over the world. Becca’s excellent presentation will be available to view here soon….. Becca is 14 years old, and a young leader at the 5th St Albans Guides. The theme of the Jamboree is “Draw your dream”; it is a life changing International Camp for Scouts and Guides from across the whole world to come together to learn, have fun, and make friends – developing their skills and learning about different cultures. Like the Olympics, it is held every 4 years, and moves around the world. Becca says

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

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

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SI St Albans and District AGM Monday 25th April – marking 65 years since the Club was chartered in April 1957. We 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 www.sigbi.org/st-albans-and-district/members and there is just a summary

Big Birthday Celebrations for St Albans Soroptimists

Big Birthday Celebrations for St Albans Soroptimists

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It was wonderful to be able to celebrate our five “big” birthdays face to face on Monday 11 April. The birthday girls, left to right, are: Denise Powell, Barbara Saunders, Jean Eaton, Janet Audley-Charles and Diana Kingham. Eighteen Members attended and celebrated with a delicious birthday cake, glasses of “bubbles” and time for good conversation after we had covered Club business. Barbara chaired the meeting before the celebrations. We were able to congratulate ourselves on being a finalist in the Mayor’s Pride Awards – see the photo from the awards event – more on the website: www.sigbi.org/st-albans/mpa22 We also had discussions around the Club’s programme action in support of refugees, tree planting for the Queen’s Green Canopy and our Orange the World campaign with 16 days of action to end violence against women 25 Nov to 10 December – see here for the news item

St Albans Mayors Pride 22 Mayoress and Mayor with Soroptimists Louise Marron, Barbara Saunders
Soroptimist Club Finalist St Albans Mayors Pride Award for Orange the World Community Project

Soroptimist Club Finalist St Albans Mayors Pride Award for Orange the World Community Project

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Soroptimist International St Albans and District Club Members are proud to announce that the Club was a finalist in the St Albans Mayor’s Pride Award 2022 for Community Project  of the Year. The award is given to recognise a project undertaken by an organisation, group or individual that has identified and met a local need. The Club put forward their brilliant “Orange the World” project – for more information about the project please click here www.sigbi.org/st-albans/orange21 and read extra info at the bottom of this news item. The first picture is of Louise Marron (2nd from left) and Barbara Saunders (1st on right) with Mayor of St Albans City and District, Councillor Edgar Hill and the Mayoress, Caroline Jane Lee. The other finalists were Passport to Leisure and the worthy winners St Albans Postboxes. The second photo is of Louise Marron holding the award with St

Herts QGC Project Presentation Annie Brewster
Queen’s Green Canopy and Sustainability in Herts

Queen’s Green Canopy and Sustainability in Herts

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On Monday 25 March Members of Soroptimist International St Albans and District were delighted to welcome Councillor Annie Brewster, Vice Chair of Hertfordshire County Council and Lead for the Queens Platinum Jubilee. Annie gave an excellent presentation on Zoom about the Queens Green Canopy project in Hertfordshire. We also heard about some great sustainability work from Zac Mather, Herts County Council Programme Manager for Sustainable Herts. Kate Belinis, President of SI Hertford and District was able to tell us about her Club’s Tree Planting. It was wonderful to welcome guests to the Zoom event from the Hertford Soroptimists, Friends of the Earth St Albans and Trees of St Albans. Annie’s presentation is the first 8 slides and Zac’s is from slide 9 – please click here to download and view: Soroptimist Presentation QGC 28.3.22 Helen Byrne, the Club’s Planet Team lead, started the evening by

Poignant Refugees Event to Mark International Women’s Day

Poignant Refugees Event to Mark International Women’s Day

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On Monday 14 March Soroptimist International St Albans and District hosted a Refugees Event to mark International Women’s Day. What we heard was inspiring and moving and the poignancy of it was reinforced because of the Russian attack on Ukraine which has happened since this event was planned. The Club’s President Barbara Saunders welcomed everyone and introduced Irene Austin, Chair of Herts Welcomes Refugees www.hwsf.org.uk.  Our Member Pamela Rochford has been part of the scheme from when Syrian refugees first began to settle in Hertfordshire. Irene delivered an excellent presentation giving us insight into the work of HWR and ways that we can help. The organisation was originally called Herts Welcomes Syrian Families and as initially set up as a lobbying group to get Hertfordshire to accept Syrian refugees. Since then,  over 50 families have now settled in Hertfordshire.  The resettlement scheme was merged with

SISTAs at Home-Start Pancake Race Kat Melie Debbie
Shwopping, Pancake Race, Networking and Radio Interviews for International Women’s Day – what a busy week!

Shwopping, Pancake Race, Networking and Radio Interviews for International Women’s Day – what a busy week!

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Members of Soroptimist International St Albans and District have had a really busy week! On Mon 28 Feb Members enjoyed a social evening together “Shwopping” raising more than £80 for the Club’s charities. Members and friends swapped unwanted Christmas gifts and clothes and made a donation for their newly swapped acquisitions. The evening was fun and a good opportunity for people to get to know each other better in an informal setting. We hadn’t held one of these events since 2014 and everyone agreed it should be a regular event in the Club’s social calendar! Thanks must got to President Barbara for being such a great host. On Tue 1 Mar it was the Home-Start Pancake Race in St Albans. Four Soroptimists were able to help on the day – pictured here (l to r) are Kat Clark, Melie Tant and Debbie Tankard. It was

Anna Barrett
New Member and Meeting in Person

New Member and Meeting in Person

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Club Members were delighted to be able to meet in person again for the first time since November 2021! President Barbara Saunders and all the Club Members were thrilled to be able to welcome new member Anna Barrett, a retired early years primary school teacher, who has joined the St Albans and District Club. Barbara presented Anna with her Soroptimist badge and delivered the introductory welcome speech. There are three proud Soroptimists pictured here – President Barbara is on the left with Anna in the centre and Sarah Lichman on the right. We are sure that Anna will be a valuable asset to the Club and hope she enjoys her membership. The 11 Feb is the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science so the Club used this meeting to mark the event. This year’s theme is Water. Members of the Club’s People

SISTA Quiz 2022 Derek Quizmaster
Quizzical Soroptimist Fundraising Success

Quizzical Soroptimist Fundraising Success

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Wow – the quizzers smashed it again this year! What a great evening. Following the the success of the online quiz last year, more people attended this year, who had even more fun and raised more  than £600 for the  St Albans & Hertsmere Women’s Refuge  plus charities supported by the Club! We had 30 Zoom screens making up 10 teams with 4 to 8 people in each team. Being on Zoom enabled teams to include people from as far afield as Yorkshire and the USA – and the technology worked brilliantly again. The Club’s President Barbara Saunders did an excellent job in the role of MC for the evening so everyone understood what was happening – and the important news of who had won at the end! Barbara’s husband Derek Palmer did another cracking job as our Quizmaster – one of his multiple choice

Climate Change Image
Optimism after COP26? The world needs increased action to achieve climate justice

Optimism after COP26? The world needs increased action to achieve climate justice

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The title of our speaker evening on 24 Jan was “What’s next after COP26? How do we achieve climate justice particularly for women in Africa?” We heard from two eminent speakers from the UK academic and the African international development communities: Mike Wilkins Executive Director/Professor of Practice in the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment, Imperial College Business School: Progress at COP26 in Glasgow and the Key Challenges which Remain Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, Director, Programme Innovation and Planning, NEPAD, the new partnership for Africa’s Development: The impact of climate change on women in Africa and the financial aid needed to achieve climate justice. Please scroll down for their more detailed biographies. Mike and Estherine gave us optimism in what COP26 achieved. They identified the challenges ahead and what action is needed by the world to achieve climate justice. Click here to read this excellent meeting report

Soroptimist St Albans OTW Collage
Soroptimists Orange The World – 16 Days of Action in Herts to End Gender Based Violence

Soroptimists Orange The World – 16 Days of Action in Herts to End Gender Based Violence

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St Albans & District Soroptimists Oranged the world (well Hertfordshire anyway!). Building on our success last year when we ‘Oranged’ the beautiful St Albans Museum, (see photos and read more about it here) this year we set out to ‘Orange’ Hertfordshire as part of the United Nations Orange the World Campaign and the 16 days of activism to end gender based violence from 25 Nov to 16 Dec 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. The Club is very proud that the photo montage shown here won the Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland photo of the month competition for January 2022! Please watch our video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g6Uhoy7PH8 We wrote to significant buildings, councillors, businesses and senior schools, seeking support…..and we got it!. The Museum were once again delighted to support us and this year laid on a ‘lighting up’ tea in the Courtroom

Soroptimist Christmas Carols St Albans 2021
Happy Soroptimist Christmas – carol singing, plus Refuge gifts

Happy Soroptimist Christmas – carol singing, plus Refuge gifts

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The St Albans Soroptimist women’s group and friends sang carols and festive songs this year at St Albans City Station on Mon 6 Dec for the first time since 2019. It was a great success raising £261 for the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge  A fabulous result considering COVID! We would like to thank everyone who made a donation, including the St Albans City supporters who were on their way to Borehamwood for the match (commiserations to them for the result 🙁). Thanks also to the station staff who joined in the singing and made us feel welcome. We were joined by Jules and Rosie our Soropti-dogs – who we are sure attracted lots of extra attention and donations! Recent funding cuts and increased demand mean that Refuges need additional funding now more than ever before. This event is timed on the closest Monday to Human

Elizabeth Gowing
Changing the Lives of Women and Girls in Kosovo – an inspiring evening with Elizabeth Gowing!

Changing the Lives of Women and Girls in Kosovo – an inspiring evening with Elizabeth Gowing!

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On Monday 22 Nov the Soroptimist International St Albans and District Club Members and guests, Soroptimists and friends from as far afield as Manchester, Wales and Western Canada! were delighted to welcome Elizabeth Gowing from The Ideas Partnership to talk about her inspiring work in Kosovo supporting girls into education and empowering women in the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community in Pristina. Elizabeth explained that she was going to share the stories of 7 women living in Kosovo. She shared her journey to Kosovo and the history of the breakup of Yugoslavia. Albania is the neighbouring country 90% of people living in Kosovo are Albanian, 8% from Kosovo and the remaining 2% include the minority Roma Ashkali and Egyptian people and all 7 of the women talked about are from this most impoverished and ostracised community.   Elizabeth is an educationalist and talented story teller.

SISTA Janet Barbara Sarah Janet charity night Abbey Theatre
Fundraising Success with Private Lives by Noel Coward at Abbey Theatre

Fundraising Success with Private Lives by Noel Coward at Abbey Theatre

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Soroptimist International St Albans and District were delighted to have been offered “Private Lives” by Noel Coward for the St Albans Abbey Theatre Charity night on Thu 4 Nov. With ticket sales and generous donations the Club has raised an amazing  £967 for SAHWR, plus other charities supported by the St Albans and District Soroptimist Club. The play is a classic and got lots of laughs and applause from an appreciative audience. It is an excellent Company of Ten production on the Main Stage. We would highly recommend people go along on the remaining nights 5-13 Nov to support the theatre www.abbeytheatre.org.uk/whats-on/privatelives COVID rules about facemask wearing were applied in the theatre and everyone felt very safe. Club President Barbara Saunders OBE is pictured here thanking the audience for supporting the event. The Club’s Team that arranged the event and collected donations at the end

SI St Albans Barbara Saunders welcomes Maria Podrajanskaya
Busy Week – The Club Welcomes New Member Maria, Mental Health Discussion, plus Tree Walk

Busy Week – The Club Welcomes New Member Maria, Mental Health Discussion, plus Tree Walk

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Soroptimist International St Albans and District had two face to face meet ups in one week – what a change from a year ago! On Monday 11 Oct we were delighted to be able to welcome our new Member Maria Podrajanskaya – pictured here accepting the hand of friendship from SI St Albans President, Barbara Saunders OBE. Maria (known as Masha) is originally from Moscow. She lived in Paris for 3 years before moving to St Albans with her husband and 4 year old daughter last year. Masha’s work experience is in digital marketing and she is passionate about wanting to build a better world for women and girls – so we know she will be a wonderful asset to our organisation. Club Members introduced themselves and Barbara led the formal part of the induction proceedings. When we welcome a new Member we are for

Step Up to COP26 Whilst Stepping Down Carbon Footprints – Next Steps

Step Up to COP26 Whilst Stepping Down Carbon Footprints – Next Steps

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On Mon 27 Sep  Zoom Soroptimist International St Albans and District’s Planet Team organised the online event “Step Up to COP26  Whilst Stepping Down Carbon Footprints”. Please click on the link here to view the excellent presentation delivered by our Member and Carbon Literacy Trainer Linda Shall  SISTA Sep 2021 Step Up to COP26 Whilst Stepping Down Carbon Footprints There were 28 people on the Zoom call learning what COP26 is and what role it could and should play in helping women reduce their own, their community and the planet’s carbon emissions.             A few notes to help with the background and jargon in the presentation:  COP = UN Conference of Parties – annual event; 2015 Paris COP21; 2020 Glasgow COP26 (delayed to 2021 due to COVID with a pre-COP meeting in Italy);  COP purpose is for global negotiations towards agreements and

Club Meets at Last – Centenary Peace Day Candles, New Member and Pot Luck Supper

Club Meets at Last – Centenary Peace Day Candles, New Member and Pot Luck Supper

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On Monday 13 Sep 2021 Members of Soroptimist International St Albans and District held a face-to-face Club meeting for the first time since February 2020. Because Members hadn’t seen each other for such a long time the Club decided to make it more of a social event with lots of time for people to catch up with one another. To mark 100 years of Soroptimist International and the International Day of Peace there was a candle lighting ceremony. The Club was also delighted to be able to welcome new Member Nicky Bloom. President Barbara Saunders OBE welcomed everyone and Debbie Tankard read the vision and mission.   Candle Ceremony – words spoken by President Barbara  “Tonight, we are lighting candles in celebration of the achievements of Soroptimists Worldwide during the past 100 years. Thousands of other clubs will be starting their ceremonies on 21st September,

St Albans Soroptimist Celebrate 100 Years with 100 Laps of the Lake

St Albans Soroptimist Celebrate 100 Years with 100 Laps of the Lake

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On Saturday 7 Aug Soroptimist International St Albans and District women’s group and supporters set themselves the goal of walking 100 laps of the lake in Verulamium Park to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Soroptimist International #100for100 They actually did 147 laps between them and earned a slice of celebration cake at the end before the rain set in! The photos give you a glimpse of what a great day it was. One of our Members, Louise Marron, had to self-isolate due to COVID so she did laps of her garden with her “Soroptisons” – pictured here with the banner they made for the occasion – well done to Louise and her lovely boys! Louise also sent us these two lovely videos: The Soropimists took a collecting bucket (of course!) to the park and collected £75 for the SAHWR women’s refuge www.sahwr.org.uk which was a bonus because this

Shelley Hayles
Raihaanah Ahmed and Shelley Hayles are Making a Difference in St Albans

Raihaanah Ahmed and Shelley Hayles are Making a Difference in St Albans

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On Monday 26 Jul our speaker guests were Raihaanah Ahmed, who set up the Sopwell Community Trust which run community initiatives such as Eid in the Park with the aim of breaking down barriers between different communities living in St Albans, and Shelley Hayles. Shelley is a leading voice in Black Lives Matter in St Albans, a registered Social Worker, lobbying for change to the Children Act to provide more provision for Care Leavers. These two inspiring local women infomed us about their local community support and “accidental activism”. Raihaanah Ahmed Raihaanah introduced herself and told us a little of her background. She is a Muslim and Bangladeshi woman. She formed the Sopwell Community Trust. One initiative is Eid in the Park with the aim to make the event accessible to all members of the local community. Raihaanah organised a number of community events pre-Covid.

Herts Girls Cricket Bishop's Stortford Winning Team 2021
St Albans Soroptimists Proud to Award Herts Girls Cricket Trophy

St Albans Soroptimists Proud to Award Herts Girls Cricket Trophy

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Fantastic skills and commitment on display in Hertfordshire Girls Cricket Final Sun 18 July 2021 On a sun-drenched Sunday 18 July 2021 on the lovely cricket ground of Berkhamsted Cricket Club, the Girls’ Finals Day saw 3 fascinating tussles take place between the girls’ sides who had risen to the top of the Hertfordshire 2021 season. U11 Berkhamsted vs Harpenden U13 Redbourn vs Harpenden U15 Redbourn vs Bishop’s Stortford Club Member and Regional President, Helen Byrne, attended on behalf of the Club to watch the third of the three games and present the Soroptimist Trophy to the winners in memory of Club Member and ex-England player Audrey Collins. Helen was joined by Members Jean Eaton and Madeline Skinner who enjoyed their visit, learning a little more about the fascinating game of cricket. Bishop’s Stortford U15, so far unsuccessful twice, were playing in their third final

Richard Ratcliffe and Gabriella protest
Richard Ratcliffe’s moving talk to St Albans Soroptimists about his fight to free Nazanin

Richard Ratcliffe’s moving talk to St Albans Soroptimists about his fight to free Nazanin

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Sixty people were moved beyond words by the powerful testimonial of Richard Ratcliffe about his campaign to #FreeNazanin On 12 July Richard shared his time generously  with Members of Soroptimist International St Albans and District plus other Soroptimists and guests from around the country. We will keep you posted with any plans to engage Soroptimists in action and campaigning needed in the UK and around the world if necessary. Please sign the petition #FreeNazanin www.change.org/p/free-nazanin-ratcliffe In 2016 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was unlawfully detained in Tehran while taking daughter Gabriella to see her family, after widely refuted allegations were made against her by Iranian authorities. Nazanin’s husband Richard has been fighting continuously throughout this time to free his wife and bring her home, having not seen her in person since the arrest. Please continue reading for a summary of Richard’s heart-rending narrative.  Louise Marron (pictured left) introduced

Shell Memories
Thought provoking fun evening – How memories are made, making the most of stuff in your home

Thought provoking fun evening – How memories are made, making the most of stuff in your home

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Wow – what a creative thought provoking and fun evening we had with Jane Fletcher from the Art of Giving Community Interest Company theartofgivingcic.com Jane informed us about the work of her company, producing and distributing motivational art for display on the walls of many hospitals, care homes, refuges – any spaces where people who are working in a community service environment need a positive boost.  Jane asked us all to think of ideas for places we could think of that would appreciate a pack – she can tailor for the receiving group. During these challenging times many of us have been sorting through ‘stuff’ in our homes and, along with the junk, we will have found some real treasures and memories. During the talk Jane showed us how to make the very most of those treasured items by sharing real life examples from herself

Helen Byrne Plastic Free July Presentation
Inspired by Carers in Herts and Plastic Free July at the June Club Meeting

Inspired by Carers in Herts and Plastic Free July at the June Club Meeting

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We had a busy and inspiring Club Meeting on the 14th June – with guest speaker Roma Mills from Carers in Herts andHelen Byrne‘s presentation  about “Plastic Free July”. Club President Barbara Saunders OBE was delighted to start the meeting by welcoming Roma Mills from Carers in Herts Roma is an old friend of the Club who works tirelessly to help those in need in of support in our community.  Roma was invited to update us on the work of the charity – particularly how it has supported carers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to view Roma’s presentation  Carers in Herts Pres Soroptimist St Albans 14 Jun it is packed full of information and she also added a lot of personal insight on the night. Carers UK surveyed over 5,000 carers in April 2020 showing: 70% carers were providing an average of 10

Soroptimists Litter Pick for St Albans Sustainability Festival

Soroptimists Litter Pick for St Albans Sustainability Festival

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The St Albans Sustainability Festival – #SUSTFEST seemed to be a perfect opportunity for getting people together outdoors to join organised litter picks www.sustfest.org Soroptimist International St Albans and District Club President Barbara Saunders and Club Treasurer Sarah Lichman worked really hard and picked up loads of litter on Redbourn Lane, between Harpenden and Redbourn, on 23 May. The event was organised by Plastic Free Harpenden. During lock down and the gradual reopening of society, we have seen and heard lots of examples of people meeting up in public spaces and leaving their rubbish behind. Rubbish and waste also blows around getting caught in the trees and building up along verges detracting from the beauty of our local environment and sometimes causing injury and possible death to animals. After the litter pick Barbara said ‘The verges are very overgrown at this time of year so

Daisy Cooper MP St Albans
Daisy Cooper MP – Open Conversation with Soroptimists

Daisy Cooper MP – Open Conversation with Soroptimists

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Members of the women’s group, Soroptimist International St Albans and District welcomed Daisy Cooper MP, for St Albans and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party on Mon 24 May. With guests there were 30 people on the Zoom call. President Barbara welcomed members and guests and guest speaker, Daisy Cooper MP. Barbara thanked Daisy for spending time with the Club and Daisy thanked the Club for their invitation. Daisy spoke about Sarah Everard’s disappearance and death. She shared the shock expressed from men about the life hacks women have had to develop to feel safer in their community. She is passionate for change and felt that the events were a watershed moment for many women to realise that they had been tolerating the climate where women don’t feel safe. Daisy stressed how important it is to encourage men to feel empowered to call out

SI St Albans President Barbara Saunders OBE
Soroptimist International St Albans and District elects a new President for 2021-22 – Barbara Saunders

Soroptimist International St Albans and District elects a new President for 2021-22 – Barbara Saunders

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Speaking at the Annual General Meeting at the start of the Club’s 64th year, Barbara said her Theme will be “Sustaining our Club and supporting our Communities”.  The Club has continued to meet monthly on Zoom throughout the pandemic and has a varied and topical programme for the year ahead. This will combine the benefits of technology and our ability to attract excellent speakers on issues of current concern particularly to women and their families. After so many months in virtual isolation for our Members, families and friends, it is also very important for people to meet, socialise and work together. We will collaborate with other community-based organisations to support practical projects which improve our local environment and contribute to our personal well-being. As we come out of lockdown, there is so much we want to do, starting with meeting in small groups, having some

SI St Albans Online AGM 2021
Club’s 1st Online AGM marks the start of the Soroptimist Centenary

Club’s 1st Online AGM marks the start of the Soroptimist Centenary

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The Club held it’s first ever online AGM on 26 April. We were able to look back on a year of great achievements in spite of the challenges of COVID-19. As well as congratulating ourselves on the past year we were excited to be looking forward to the year ahead where we will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Soroptimist International  and the 65th anniversary of our Club Soroptimist International St Albans and District. Normally at the meeting we have the handover of office from one President to another and this year was, of course, a little different…. Katherine (Kat) Clark ended her term of Office in April 2021 but we were unable to have an AGM due to COVID-19. The Club also didn’t have a President in place for last year – instead sharing the Presidency as a “rainbow year” with six of the

Rotary Global Sight Solutions Soroptimist St Albans
Club Meeting – learning about Global Sight Solutions

Club Meeting – learning about Global Sight Solutions

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At our Club meeting on Monday 12 April we welcomed Rotarian Fiona Miles to talk to us, via Zoom, about the Rotary Project Global Sight Solutions  The presentation materials are not provided here because all of the information is on the website www.globalsightsolutions.org please take some time to browse through and find out more about this life changing project. A brief summary of Fiona’s presentation is here: Global Sight Solutions’ mission is to provide free eye care and eye surgery to the very poor in the developing world. It is an avoidable blindness charity. It was registered with the charity commission back in the 90’s by members of Guildford Rotary Club, the aim being to work with Rotary Clubs in the developing world and together establish financially sustainable eye hospitals which can provide a full range of eye care, free to the world’s poorest. The goal

St Albans and Hertsmere Womens Refuge
Coffee, Chat and a Virtual Cheque handover – with Liz and Sara from St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge

Coffee, Chat and a Virtual Cheque handover – with Liz and Sara from St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge

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On 7 Apr Liz and Sara, Managers of the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge SAHWR   joined us for our monthly coffee morning on Zoom. They were delighted that the Club has been able to send the Refuge £1000 from this year’s fundraising and generous donations. The Club has supported SAHWR for many years – it is a charity which provides specialist domestic abuse services in the St Albans, Hertsmere, Three Rivers, Watford and Dacorum areas. Liz told us that they use the money from our Club specifically to benefit residents. This year with home-schooling of children they were able to use the money we sent last year to buy Wi-Fi Access SIM cards for the iPads that had been provided by BBC Children in Need. The money also funded Easter egg hunts in the Refuges and gifts for the Mums from the children for

Carbon Footprint Presentation SI St Albans
How can Women lead on Reducing Carbon Footprints? Engaging Soroptimist Event

How can Women lead on Reducing Carbon Footprints? Engaging Soroptimist Event

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On Mon 22 March we had an engaging evening on Zoom – “How can Women lead on Reducing Carbon Footprints?” The event was led by Soroptimist St Albans Club Member Linda Shall who is an experienced Carbon Literacy Project trainer and a member of the Club’s “Planet Team”. The world has to reduce carbon emissions if we are to prevent irreparable damage to life on our planet: we all have a part to play in that reduction and we need to start now. During the evening we investigated climate change and how we, as women, can lead on carbon footprint reduction. The Aims and Objectives of the event are at the bottom of this piece. Everyone who registered for the event was asked to calculate their Carbon Footprint beforehand. For details of the World Wildlife Fund’s Carbon Footprint Calculator we used and other resources from the evening

International Women’s Day – Compassion and Self-Care

International Women’s Day – Compassion and Self-Care

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On International Women’s Day our Soroptimist Club included an interactive session on self-compassion and self-care – particularly important during COVID. This was led by our Member Katherine Clark, an experienced life-skills coach. In April 2020 we said that our Club we would focus on wellbeing –  “As we come through the COVID-19 crisis it is really important that we all stay as well as we can, so that we can enjoy our lives to the full when we move into the new normal… “ Almost a year later this was a timely reminder to be kind to ourselves. International Women’s Day this year had the campaign #ChooseToChallenge – our Club accepts the challenge to work for a better world for women post-COVID. The photo above was taken at the meeting to show Members’ support. www.internationalwomensday.com To remind ourselves of the International aspect of being a

Dr Margaret Ashwell and Elsie Widdowson
Elsie Widdowson – a woman who inspired action in the world of diet and health

Elsie Widdowson – a woman who inspired action in the world of diet and health

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“Elsie Widdowson- a woman who inspired action in the world of diet and health” What an interesting evening we had on Mon 22 Feb on Zoom when Dr Margaret Ashwell OBE  spoke to us about the inspirational Elsie Widdowson CH, CBE, FRS. Elsie’s work undoubtedly improved the health of our nation and saved many lives. Margaret is a public health nutritionist and she is also the biographer of Elsie Widdowson.  Margaret is pictured when Elsie received her Honorary Doctorate from University of Salford. Read more about the fascinating talk here – and click the links at the bottom of the piece to find out more… A chance encounter with Elsie Widdowson’s Secretary, Betty, on an Easter Pilgrimage to St Albans Abbey in 1991, inspired Dr Margaret Ashwell OBE to take on the mammoth task of writing down the stories about Elsie who she had known

Dianne Oxberry Trust Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Club Meeting – Ovarian Cancer with Nicky Thompson Chair of The Dianne Oxberry Trust

Club Meeting – Ovarian Cancer with Nicky Thompson Chair of The Dianne Oxberry Trust

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On Monday 8 Feb St Albans Soroptimists and guests were  joined by Nicky Thompson Chair of The Dianne Oxberry Trust dianneoxberrytrust.org at the Club Meeting on Zoom. Nicky talked passionately about her friend, Dianne Oxberry, a well known BBC TV and Radio Broadcaster in the North West of England who died very soon after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer and in whose memory the Trust was formed. Nicky is a natural story teller who made an impression on everyone attending. Speaking from the heart and without notes she spoke of a ‘friendly, straight-talking weather presenter’ well known in the North West; a no-nonsense-woman with good judgement and a strong moral compass, who was mad about horses, dogs and life; an incredible mum and gifted broadcaster who behind the scenes was a champion of women and key driver for those lobbying for equal pay at the

New Member Louise Marron
New Member at First Meeting of the New Year and Soroptimist Centenary!

New Member at First Meeting of the New Year and Soroptimist Centenary!

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It was great to all be back together, albeit virtually, for our first Club meeting of 2021! We inducted a new Member to our Club and welcomed Regional President Helen Byrne to speak about the 100th Anniversary of Soroptimist International this year.  It was a special evening because we officially welcomed our new member, Louise Marron (pictured here), to our Club and to the worldwide Soroptimist movement. Louise enjoyed attending  Soroptimist meetings and events on Zoom last year and as a result decided to join. She works for the HCF Training and Development (HCF stands for Hertfordshire Community Foundation) and has worked with lots of the local charities that our Club supports. Louise was introduced to us by SI East London through work she was doing for one of the charities they support. Louise said “I have been looking to join an organisation like Soroptimist

Soroptimist Charity Quiz Night
Club’s First Virtual Quiz Night a Triumph!

Club’s First Virtual Quiz Night a Triumph!

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Soroptimist International St Albans & District’s First virtual quiz night was a triumph! Thanks to the generosity of everyone who attended we raised more than £700 for the St Albans & Hertsmere Women’s Refuge plus charities supported by the Club’s projects. Our Quiz masters Derek and Barbara (pictured having a well earned rest after the event) did a fantastic job and led everyone though 6 rounds of 6 questions with multiple choice answers. After each round of questions Jane (pictured here) took everyone went into the 8 Zoom “breakout rooms”, with the same people for every round to chat about the questions and answers, make new friends and catch up with old friends too. The winners were decided on a tie break. Well done and a massive thanks to everyone who took part in this fun event! It was lovely to receive the following messages from

Balloons
Virtual Balloons Raced 500kms from the North Pole in a Week!

Virtual Balloons Raced 500kms from the North Pole in a Week!

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This year Soroptimist International St Albans and District  teamed up with the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline and held a virtual balloon race for their Christmas fundraiser! The event raised about £200 to be split between the  Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline and the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge One of Soroptimist Barbara’s family balloons “Jon the Sherriff” was the winner from our supporters and the family were thrilled to find he had won an Apple iPad!  Soroptimist and our charities’ supporters sponsored 94 balloons and the race included many other participants racing for other worthy causes.  The balloon “Jon the Sherriff” travelled 515.54km and came in second overall – it was the only one of ours that came in the top 100 (1st prize was £500, 2nd prize an Apple iPad and there were 10 £10 book tokens for the runners up). Barbara said “the family

Soroptimist St Albans Gifts for Womens Refuge
Christmas Gifts for Womens Refuge

Christmas Gifts for Womens Refuge

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Our Soroptimist elves have been busy again buying and wrapping up personal Christmas gifts for the women at the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge. Santa’s got a right sackful here! We know the women are thrilled at Christmas to know that we’re thinking about them and we hope it brings them a little bit of Christmas cheer and hope for a happy new year! Soroptimist Jean Eaton kindly agreed to be the collection point for the gifts this year. Members were also able to drop off donations of tea, coffee etc for the women’s refuge  (see the photo). Normally when me meet face to face we are able to bring our donations of tea and coffee to Club meetings, so this was a good solution. Someone from the Refuge then came and collected everything. Liz Perry on the Refuge managers says “there is no situation

Soroptimist Tree Planting National Tree Week
National Tree Week – Soroptimists Planting Trees for Centennial

National Tree Week – Soroptimists Planting Trees for Centennial

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St Albans Soroptimists Planet Team will be mobilising the Club to “Plant Trees for a Brilliant Future” in 2021 to celebrate a century of work transforming the lives of women and girls across the globe. Even though Soroptimists can’t meet in person yet, National Tree Week is a great time for #PlantTrees planning. Many Soroptimists have already made a positive impact on nature by planting trees – read their stories here https://bit.ly/30cRIM9. We are using the time to plan our tree planting in 2021 in partnership with St Albans Friends of the Earth www.stalbansfoe.org And joining in the Tree Council’s free programme of cultural events for National Tree Week 2020 #TreelyConnected www.treecouncil.org.uk/take-action/seasonal-campaigns/national-tree-week/join-our-free-national-tree-week-arts-culture-events Why not join us? It is time to:  Wake Up    Take Notice    Raise our voices    Build Back Better for People and Planet Soroptimists Plant Trees for a Brilliant Future #PlantTrees

Soroptimist St Albans Museum Orange the World for 16 Days of Activism
St Albans Museum Turns Orange for Action Against Gender Based Violence

St Albans Museum Turns Orange for Action Against Gender Based Violence

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St Albans Museum and Gallery has turned orange standing with the St Albans Soroptimists for women everywhere 25 Nov marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women the start of #16daysofactivisim #orangetheworld for Zero Tolerance against Gender Based Violence International Day for the  #GenerationEquality  www.un.org/en/observances/ending-violence-against-women-day Thanks to the museum and St Albans City and District Council for making this happen for the first time! It will remain orange until Monday 30 Nov when it will change to Christmas colours. Thanks also to Maya Derrick at the Herts Advertiser for covering the news and raising awareness of the campaign www.hertsad.co.uk/news/museum-orange-for-action-against-gender-based-violence-1-6946806

Domestic Abuse Traveller Film
Screening of Film About Domestic Abuse in Traveller Community for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence

Screening of Film About Domestic Abuse in Traveller Community for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence

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Never Going to Beat You – a powerful new film about Domestic Abuse in the Traveller Community To mark the United Nations 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence , Jude Tisdall presented the brilliant new 1 hour film about domestic abuse in the traveller community called “Never Going to Beat You”. The film was followed by a Q&A on Zoom. This event was organised by Soroptimist International St Albans and District. Jude Tisdall has been a trustee of Giants Theatre Company for many years and is a supporter of the work of The Travellers Movement. She is an educator and arts consultant and is passionate about enabling young people to realise their potential through education in its broadest sense. For more information and resources go to: www.travellermovement.org.uk/advocacy-support/woman-girls/domestic-violence-and-sexual-abuse-project Soroptimists Denise Powell and Ann Beatty welcomed and introduced the event. Jude Tisdall spoke of the six

SIGBI President Johanna Raffan
9 Nov Club Meeting – welcome to SIGBI President Johanna Raffan and feedback from SIGBI Conference

9 Nov Club Meeting – welcome to SIGBI President Johanna Raffan and feedback from SIGBI Conference

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Our special guest speaker at our meeting on Zoom on 9 Nov was the new SIGBI President Johanna Raffan MBE. Johanna is a Member of the Thames Valley Club in the same Region as us – London Chilterns Region. We were really proud when we heard that this was Johanna’s first public engagement since becoming President! Please scroll down to read a brief biography about Johanna. Johanna talked to us first about her passion for education – her career leading to her MBE and how important we all know it is as Soroptimists and a key UN Sustainable Development Goal SDG4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all After that she spoke to us about the reason behind her theme for 2020-21 – “We Stand Up for Women – Believe to Achieve” – the purple and gold colours

Herts Area Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre
Club Cuppa and £1000 Donation to Herts Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre

Club Cuppa and £1000 Donation to Herts Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre

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On the afternoon of Mon 2 Nov nine Soroptimist St Albans Members got together on Zoom for a “cuppa”. We were delighted that Cathy Freeman from Herts Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre www.hertsrapecrisis.org.uk was able to join us so we could officially “handover” the £1000 we raised for the charity over the last year. Cathy said “That’s wonderful – thankyou so much! I can’t tell you how much it’s appreciated. In Lockdown we have had to buy 6 laptops! The women will be grateful too.” Fundraising for the £1000 included singing Christmas carols at St Albans Station, coffee mornings at Wesley Cafe in Harpenden and a Health Event on Zoom www.sigbi.org/st-albans-and-district/2020/breathe Cathy gave us an update on what’s been happening to the charity during COVID-19.  Counselling has been carried out online, the volume of referrals for counselling have been about the same as before the pandemic

Sovel Cunningham
Inspiring poetry and spoken word event with Sovel Cunningham

Inspiring poetry and spoken word event with Sovel Cunningham

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On an Autumn October evening we found “space to unwind the mind” thanks to the inspirational Sovel Cunningham who took us on a journey – “Just being me” – a poetry & spoken word event on Zoom. This was scheduled as a social event for Club Members – and in “normal” times we would have probably held an event in the hall where we meet or gone out for a meal together. We began with the Soroptimist Vision and Mission, read by Vathsala, which always focuses our minds at the start of an evening. Soroptimist Vision Women and girls will achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. Soroptimist Mission Soroptimists transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities. Sovel Cunningham is a poet. She began by

Liz Tillett United Nations
Action Packed Club evening – the United Nations, Positive Periods and Womens Cricket

Action Packed Club evening – the United Nations, Positive Periods and Womens Cricket

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Wow – what an action packed Club evening we had on Zoom on Mon 12 October! First up was Club Member Liz Tillett with “Fun and Games at the UN” Liz spoke about her experience negotiating at the United Nations (UN) in New York on behalf of the UK government. Liz led a short quiz to get everyone’s brains in gear – click here to view Liz Tillett UNQuiz Liz’s career led her to working at the UN – negotiating for the UK on UN disability policies. Liz was lucky enough to meet the incumbent US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on her birthday (sadly we are not permitted to use that photo). Liz explained some of the complexity of our political system and why change is so difficult. She was rightly very proud of the disability group that ensured that disabilities are

Soroptimist London Chilterns Region President Helen Byrne
St Albans Soroptimists Lead the Region Two Years Running

St Albans Soroptimists Lead the Region Two Years Running

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Congratulations to Helen Byrne who has become the new President of Soroptimist International London Chilterns Region www.sigbi.org/london-chilterns Helen Byrne, pictured here, has been an active Member of Soroptimist International St Albans and District since 2008 and is a past Club President, Membership Officer and is currently facilitator of the Club’s Planet Team which focuses on environment projects. Helen said “I am humbled to be Regional President, especially in 2020-21 the Centenary Year of Soroptimist International. We have achieved so much and yet there is still so much to do. Hence my theme ‘Celebrate the Past, Create the Future’. ” Helen takes over from the Regional President 2019-2020, Denise Powell, who is also an active Member of the St Albans Soroptimist Club – having served as President, Secretary, Programme Action Officer,  currently sharing the Club Presidency with five other Members and facilitator of the Peace Team which