This is the question many people have asked me since I joined the SI Torquay and District 5 years ago. Not a surprising question really as I had asked the same to a work colleague who had also joined the group.  The only person who really knew what a Soroptimist was is my father-in-law, himself an active member of the Normandy Veterans. If I can do half as much fund raising as he has done I will be very happy.

I was invited to attend the first meeting which just happened to be the talk at St Matthias Church by Miss Anne Widdecombe and what struck me from that first night was the sincerity and friendship that was shown, it was a brilliant evening and confirmed to me that I wanted to join.

the following July along with five other members from Torquay I travelled to the Regional Meeting in Taunton and what an enlightening day that turned out to be. Several presentations took place all with such enthusiasm and commitment to their cause. The afternoon session was by far the most impressive with talks on ‘Creating opportunities in the Media’ by Sheila Manchester – Editor The Soroptimist, and Caroline Righton – Freelance Journalist (and a Soroptimist!) I came away from the meeting having met some new people, made new friends felt truly ‘inspired’ and now ready to be a global voice for women.

I now regularly attend meetings and functions on a Tuesday evening at Rosegarth and have become a very active member. I have joined and taken on responsibilities on the House Committee.

To my family and friends I explained that I had joined a world wide organisation for professional ladies who are committed to improving the world for women and children, so that they can achieve their full potential – something that I have always strived to do. I am sure that they are very proud of what of what I hope to do, and with their support they will help me to ‘make a difference’.

Cheryl Rider

Why I joined the Soroptimists

I moved from the Midlands to a new teaching post in Devon.  I loved my new job but there was a void in my life.  I didn’t feel fulfilled.  Through my work I met a wonderful friend who introduced me to Torquay Soroptimists.  I was immediately at home with the like-minded women from all walks of life – all ultimately with the same goal – to enrich the lives of women & children everywhere.  Their warmth and welcome made me feel part of the World Wide Soroptimist Organisation.

On a local level good friendships develop & it is good to belong to a caring group and to be part of a team, together we are strong and can make a difference to women’s and children’s lives at home and abroad which is wonderful.  Along the way we have friendships, fun & the opportunity to be true Soroptimists – “the best of Sisters”.

Lesley Proctor

My Introduction To The Soroptimists

‘Soroptimist – never  heard of it.’ I had never heard the word and certainly didn’t know how to spell it. None of my friends had heard of it either. One aquaintance said, ‘I don’t really want to be a ‘chiropodist’ – I said, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing to do with feet!’

Then a friend from the Brixham Soroptimist group invited me to one of their social outings. There was quite a gathering of ladies. They were animated and friendly and we had a great day at Buckfast Abbey.

I decided to find out more about these Soroptimists and maybe join them as a member. Brixham was a bit of a distance away so I contacted the Torquay and District group. I spoke to Cheryl Rider. She invited me to one of their social occasions where members of other groups had been invited. It was a pleasure to meet up again with Beulah Longdin and Gaynor Soames. Beulah was the well-respected Deputy Head at Cuthbert Mayne School when I was teaching there and Gaynor is an ex-pupil. I must say I am very proud of her. We had a very pleasant evening with an interesting and humorous talk given by the Widecombe Wag. This was followed by a delicious buffet meal produced by the ladies.

That’s when everything came to a stop for quite some time. Cheryl had an illness and I acquired a new puppy! Henry focused my mind and distracted me from anything else. Many’s the time I heard myself say, ‘What have I done?!’

Cheryl didn’t give up on me. She kept in touch. Once again I was invited to a social gathering. This time it was held at Rosegarth with some Brixham members present. The main guest was the South West Regional President no less! It was a happy and successful evening and the food was excellent again!

I reported back to my partner and he said, ‘If I put on a dress and heels would I be accepted.’ ‘Hardly likeley,’ I said. (He’s rather large and has a beard and a moustache!)

However, I have been accepted. I finally joined the membership – well I can’t keep enjoying these social events without any commitment can I? Now there are new and interesting things lined up for the members of Torquay and District. I had a chat with Cheryl on the phone and I’ve received several emails about up-coming events. So on Tuesday 3rd November I went along to the Business Meeting at Rosegarth with my purse at the ready and I signed on the dotted line.  Now I’m ready, willing and able.

Linda Churchward