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Club History

History overview

As membership grew, the Soroptimist Club of Birkenhead and Wallasey split in 1946 to become two separate Clubs.  The separation had the approval of Miss Dora Henderson the President of the Southern Section of the North West Division (now Region of Cheshire, North Wales & Wirral).  On 29th April 1946 the Headmistress of Wallasey High School for Girls, Miss M.E. Perrott, was elected the first Club President at a meeting in the school library.  One of the Founder Members, Mrs Una Barrett-Leonard (President 1949-1950) remained a member for the rest of her life.  A gracious lady always elegant.

Costing 10 shillings and 6 pence (approx. 52.2p today) a private room was hired at the Punch and Judy Café in Seaview Road Wallasey for the first meeting of 19 prospective members.  The annual subscription for members was set at £2 2shillings (£2.10p). The Club received a warm welcome from the local newspaper, The Wallasey News, with praise for Miss Perrott as President citing her as a ‘well above average woman’ being deeply interested in human affairs.

The Club was officially chartered on Tuesday 8th October 1946 at a dinner held at the Riverside Restaurant, New Brighton.  President Miss Perrott received the Charter from Federation President Miss F.M. Bailey.  Formal annual dinners celebrated the Club’s Chartering with evening dress and black tie. Local dignitaries were invited, as were presidents from other Soroptimist clubs and other clubs e.g. Rotary.

Charter dinner celebration of 1951 – 2nd right President Madeline Ellis

Club insignia – blue enamel on silver

hallmarked ‘1945 Chester’

Originally worn on blue ribbon with silver badges of each president’s name, later with a modern silver chain

50th Charter dinner in 1996

President Jackie Culpin with Federation President

60th Charter dinner. Bottom picture right to left – Club President Hilary Andrews, International President Lynn Dunning, Federation President Ann Dawson. Top picture centre in pink, Region President and Club member Sue Taylor surrounded by Soroptimist presidents from across the Region

Celebrating 70 years since the Club was chartered.  Right picture, President Stella McKay-Moffat (left) cuts the cake with Federation President Margaret Emsley.  The Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Patrick Heskett with his wife join ‘members of the chain gang’

Service to, and support of the local community has always been very high on Members’ agenda.  This has ranged from support and gifts for the elderly; donations of funds and equipment to local health services e.g. Claire House children’s hospice and Arrowe Park Hospital special care baby unit; help for the local Women’s Refuge; and even an estate car for the local WRVS Meals on Wheels service.  Environmental issues are pursued e.g. planting of trees and beach clean at Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton where items were logged and reported to the Marine Conservation Society.  Below, member Barbara Duff being interviewed by North West News in 2011 about the beach cleaning.

We support the local Foodbank with food and feminine hygiene products.  Sue can be seen below making a delivery.

Fun, friendship and fundraising have, and remain, key elements of the Club.  Entertainment has been hugely varied over the years from theatre visits to poetry reading, and choirs or individual vocalists.

Many social or informative outings and Conference attendances have been enjoyed, and members continue to enjoy socializing together.  Whilst membership of the Club is significantly reduced compared  to that of the early days (corresponding to falls in membership in many clubs and organisations) members remain committed to helping to improve the lives of women and girls, locally, nationally and internationally.

Members look forward to 2021 when Wallasey Soroptimists will celebrate 75 years since Chartering.