PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Kathleen Tuddenham) 2014 – 2015
My year as President of S. I. Sunderland has overseen a number of changes. Some I did not envisage nor did I have included in my programme.
Our first change was locating to a new venue here at the Marriott Hotel, where I am sure you will all agree we have been well served with very enjoyable food, efficient service in very pleasant surroundings, and the Charter Lunch was not to be missed.
“Looking Forward in a Changing World” has been my theme for the year and my guest speakers have mostly reflected change either through circumstances which have occurred in their lifetime or maybe through influence and work that have changed and enhanced the lives of other people.
The charity I chose to support during my year of office was influenced by family experience of the medical attention received from The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. I was fortunate to have Professor Ruth Plummer attend the first supper evening which launched my intention to give support to the foundation and last but not least I was able to welcome Lady Elsie Robson to the last supper evening to receive a cheque for £3236 a total amount raised through fund raising events and donations throughout the year. Our very own Wear Surma Clinic has also been recognized with a donation of £150.
So much for fund raising, now to focus on Programme Action projects which as you know is at the heart of what Soroptimism is all about.
A changing world has brought about the need for food banks and our members have very kindly contributed, on a regular basis, a wide variety of tinned foods etc. to the food bank based at the Bethany Church in Sunderland. For Christmas our members again came forward with great enthusiasm and generosity and put together seven hampers for the food bank.
I had the desire that we should continue our service with Young Carers in Sunderland. This work was recognized by our club receiving second place award from the Soroptimist International Northern England Best Practice Programme Action Award 2014 for our work with young carers, in particular guidance given to a young carer on interviewing techniques – who I might say was successful in achieving employment.
We focussed on Modern Day Slavery Bill and this was influenced further by the attendance of Chief Inspector Sean McKenna at one of our meetings who, together with Community Engagement Officers Martha and Rebecca, informed us of the work undertaken by police officers in relation to Operation Sanctuary. The spin-offs from this visit introduced us to Rahmat, a Nigerian Lady who had suffered female genital mutilation. Some of us were also introduced to a support centre for women who had suffered or had come out of domestic violent relationships. These projects are still on-going. Our members continue to support Cancer Research and Street Care.
In November I joined a number of members to Conference in Harrogate. Again a very worthwhile experience, with very inspiring, interesting speakers who centred their talks around the Conference theme “Women Leading Change Together”.
I have attended Charter Lunches at Morpeth, Durham and Newcastle; a very interesting Regional Council Meeting held in May at the International Centre for Life, Newcastle – the theme was “Temptation” and focussed on tobacco, drug and alcohol abuse and internet safety.
Another change, we have joined with or invited our Sister Soroptimists from South Shields to supper evenings and afternoon teas.
We all enjoyed our usual carol singing at Falstone Manor Care Home, where residents and staff sang along with us – and we are getting better – and this was concluded with a very welcome glass of sherry followed by a retreat to Martino’s for coffee and a natter. Our Christmas meal together with the pantomime performance was not to be missed. Thank you to Carol and all those who took part, and for the whole event superbly organised by President Elect Pat Howe.
Not in my programme was the Tin of Truth, but I led the club through this exercise which has brought about changes to the future structure and format of meetings at S. I. Sunderland.
The year has had its ups and downs as they say. A disappointment was when three members resigned their membership just before Christmas. However, it has been a joy and I have had much delight in welcoming two new members to our club; namely Jacquie and Rosemary. An equally enjoyable event was my visit to the home of Gladys Maddison who was celebrating her 90th birthday where we sat and reminisced about days gone by. What an interesting and wise lady to listen to and converse with.
Finally, I would like to thank all members, especially the Executive Committee for the help and support given to me during the past year and I look forward to giving the next President my full support and assistance during her year of office.
I hope you have all enjoyed the 2014/2015 programme. It has been a roller coaster year-not an easy year- but to me it has been a year of learning from experienced members, who have lifted me up when at times I felt so let down. But most of all I have a lot of happy memories to cherish and remember. I hope you all have too.