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Soroptimist International - Weybridge and District

Soroptimist International of Weybridge and District is part of a worldwide organisation of women, which is linked to the United Nations.

Welcome to SI Weybridge

Give as you Spend – Advent Competition

Don’t forget anyone can support your Club funds & initiatives by registering with Easyfundraising and nominating SI Weybridge as your charity, if you are buying items/presents at most major retailers a small percentage is donated from the cost to our account. It’s really EASY and allows us to build a fund for a project. Here’s a bit of festive fun – easyfundraising are running an Advent Calendar competition with a £250 donation to be won every day in December, plus a Christmas Day Grand Prize of a £2000 donation and a £2000 John Lewis & Partners gift card! It’s free and open to all easyfundraising causes so if your group isn’t using easyfundraising yet, sign up here so you can enter too:

17th December 2020

Join our Festive Bird Bingo evening, socialise online over Zoom with your friends and join in the fun. Wear a festive outfit/hat/glasses. Have your fizz or tipple at the ready to toast our Club and Region. Nominate a Festive Character for their attitude, tenacity or innovation this year. This is a nice opportunity to catch up over a more leisurely evening with friends and to hear how Margaret’s house move is going, news from Maggie, about Nadine’s visit to award Marion’s certificate and gifts.


8th December 2020

This month our Club is thrilled to see our nomination for the Centenary WhoIsShe? recognition has been made to Marion Strehlow, a club member since 1975. SI Weybridge Member MARION  features as one of 100 Soroptimists commemorated in our Centennial Year – MANY CONGRATULATIONS

Marion has been a Soroptimist since 1975 – 45 years!

Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) together with Soroptimists from across the world join together to celebrate 100 years of Soroptimist International (SI) and celebrate a ‘Bright Past’ and a ‘Brilliant Future’. When Soroptimist International reaches a milestone in its history as now, the Celebration of 100 Years of Service, it is fitting that we should look back and pay tribute to those pioneers who established Soroptimist International on firm foundations and kept the flag flying through difficult times. Each month there will be a showcase celebrating some  ‘Soroptimist Pioneers

These #WhoIsShe? campaign members, both past and present, from Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland have all been nominated by Soroptimist Clubs for their noteworthy contribution to society in the furtherance of the aims and objects of the organisation.

Marion was born in Berlin on 15th April 1935 to a Jewish family. As a child during the Second World War she was transported to the Theresienstadt GheCo/Camp known as Terezin. Her father was also in the camp but she had very little contact with him and had been told he was dying. From spring 1944 until summer 1945 she was one of the children resident in ‘the villa’. The children were of mixed ages and nationalities and all of them were ill, there were no adults living there. At the age of nine Marion was the eldest girl and she tried to mother the younger ones. The children had been selected by a Czechoslovakian doctor, who wished to prove that exposure to fresh air and sunshine could cure illnesses. Marion, like many of the children, had tuberculosis. The children were very poorly fed, had few adult visitors and spent hours reclining on wooden chairs outside or sitting inside with windows open in all weathers. The villa was close to the railway line that served the camp and in the autumn of 1944 numerous trains arrived full of dead and dying people. The stench was horrendous, there were mass burials and the smell of decay permeated the garden but the children still had to do their stint outside.

Marion survived and although her father also survived, her mother who had been in Auschwitz, had died. As her father was unable to cope Marion was sent to her aunt in the UK. She came for 6 weeks and is still here. Despite having missed more than 4 years of school, having to learn another language and suffering from ill health and nightmares, Marion completed her education and qualified as a nurse. She worked for many years in the field of health visiting, always helping others. Later in life Marion worked in a multi-faith unit attached to the Surrey police and helped with inter-faith understanding and issues relating to the Jewish community. Despite her trauma and the difficulty of speaking about the past, Marion has in recent years spoken to school children on Holocaust Memorial Day about her experience as a child during the war. She is able to make real what they learn in history and make her own personal experience evidence of the truth of the Holocaust. The children are so affected by the talks they send her wonderful personal thank you letters. This keeps alive the terrible events of that time, lest no one forget. Marion has been a member of Soroptimist International since April 1975 and has been an enthusiastic supporter of her club, the organisation and its aims in helping women and girls throughout the world. She has also been a keen participant in our friendship link visits, making many friends internationally. After such terrible events in her childhood Marion has spent her adult life helping others, always cheerful and positive.

We at SI Weybridge & District cherish dear Marion, we’ve been privileged to hear her speak, witness her good humour and value her friendship. Hoping soon to welcome her and other members back to meetings post Covid-19.

15 October 2020 Women in the Shadows

Suzette gave a fabulous oversight to the club on how modern slavery is so evident in British society and her role working for the Clewer Initiative. She noted data highlighting the fact that there are an estimated 136K women, men and children held in differing forms of servitude or being exploited in Britain now. 1/130 women in Britain are thought to be enslaved to organised crime be it in servitude, agriculture, fraud, sexual exploitation or businesses such as pop up brothels, car washes and nail bars. We should not forget that the nationality of those enslaved is not always as often thought people from developing countries, the ranking for slavery is topped by statistics showing British people are amongst the worst affected. Some are enslaved for years, in Surrey alone in the last 6 months from July 42 cases were under investigation and there are on average 5 new cases a week under investigation.  She explained why it’s hard for victims to raise the alarm (fear, shame) and the importance of vigilance and personal reporting on the part of each and every one of us. Moreover we should question our own motives when buying goods, using services that might be cheap because forced labour is used.

Suzette supplied the cascade of contacts individuals can report to even anonymously. The Clewer Nuns (Anglican) are enabling information sharing and action through churches throughout Lent starting January 21st) a 5 week course providing talks and resources and engaging with a team of practitioners. Apps are being developed to enable consumer reporting data collation and provision of guidance on service companies which are bona fide and not involved in slavery.   Crimestoppers, the police and helplines are available resources to report suspected cases. A topical report issued by Walk Free (  is a relevant resource if one wants to further understand the extent of slavery from infanticide, missing persons, educational impedance through to limitations on work and current recommendations. It’s possible to gain a better understanding by subscribing the Clewer Initiative newsletter or publicising the training run for the church of England parishes next year. (

Herewith the telephone numbers to put in your mobile regarding modern slavery

• Modern Slavery Helpline 08000121700.
• The Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority 08004320804
• Crimestoppers on 0800555111
• Fearless
• In an emergency 999

When you see something, when you know the situation is not right, all you need to do is telephone, tell of your intuition – if it doesn’t feel right it, it
probably isn’t. Go on The Clewer website and find out more, sign up for their newsletter

15 July 2020

SI Weybridge & District present £500 to Weybridge Foodbank as Covid-19 causes shortfall of in kind donations

The Weybridge branch of Soroptimist International Great Britain & Ireland (SIGBI) has this month responded to donation shortages at the Weybridge Foodbank. A reduction in supermarket shopping, as locals shop online during lockdown, has meant the Foodbank has seen a donation shortfall during recent months. On Wednesday 2 July, Elmbridge resident and member Brenda Saunders from the Weybridge & District Soroptimists (SIWD) presented a cheque for £500 to Angela Miller, Weybridge Foodbank Team Leader. The money will be used to purchase food and household items and vouchers for distribution to those in need in the local area.

Run by local women, SIWD is passionate about supporting programmes that improve the lives of women and girls both in Elmbridge and around the world. The branch runs regular fundraisers and supporting community projects including donating women’s health products to the Foodbank in Walton on Thames, providing much needed items which were at that time seldom reaching local collection boxes. Under lockdown their regular ‘Business Meetings’ have been impossible, but the women have pressed on, with 20 local members meeting online each month via Zoom to continue their work.

Generally, donations of food and toiletries for the Runnymede & Weybridge Foodbank are collected in Waitrose, Tesco Addlestone, the Weybridge library and at St. James’ church, but COVID-19 and the associated lockdown has significantly reduced the level of retail ‘shopping’, whilst furloughs and job losses in lockdown have created even greater demand.

SIWD member Brenda Saunders raised the donation shortage to the Club, highlighting the Weybridge Foodbank COVID-19 appeal for donations. She herself had been popping a weekly ‘donation’ box in her front garden for neighbours to donate to. Club members stepped up and donated the cost of their usual club meal for 3 months (April-June), to raise funds for Foodbank.

The Foodbank’s Angela Miller explained that they are usually located at St James’ Church in Weybridge, but due to church closures all provisions are being ‘doorstep’ delivered by volunteers. In due course it’s hoped the church can once again provide a welcoming resource where those in crisis can have a ‘cuppa’ and chat about their situation. The emphasis is very much, Angela explained, “on looking out for local community and signposting the vulnerable and needy to where they can seek additional help and advice so people can break free from poverty.”

Dorothy Clark a Weybridge Soroptimist, awarded an MBE for services to children’s education in the community, was truly delighted to see families supported by Soroptimists. She commented: “A child needs nourishment to learn. Food poverty affects families in high cost areas quickly as parents have high fixed outgoings. In Weybridge, any economic change can impact poverty faster as a result; COVID-19 has caused distress and accelerated it.  It’s key we support families now over the summer holidays when schools out, we are glad to do what we can now.”

About SIW&D
Soroptimist International Weybridge & District is an active women’s club with a membership of over 20 women. The club membership is drawn from Molesey, Hersham, Walton & Staines on Thames, Addlestone, Byfleet and Weybridge at present. The Club meets 10 times a year and supports local, national and international projects with a focus on improving the lives of women and girls. We welcome new women members; get in touch to find out more via:

About the Weybridge Foodbank
Weybridge Foodbank opened in March 2019 as local requests for emergency help became apparent. Access is by referral with immediate provision of 3 days of emergency food, referrals come from a variety of sources including schools, DWP, Citizens Advice, health professionals and family centres. The Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network which is currently working in collaboration with Runnymede council.  The Foodbank also runs other support projects including a 6 week “Eat Well Spend Less” cookery course to teach people how to use the tinned and dried foods and combine them with fresh foods they buy in a cost-effective way, budgeting information is also covered on the course to help with how to spend well. Another initiative ‘Food4Lunch’ regularly supplies a two course lunch provisions to local vulnerable families for each 2 weeks of the school holidays. For more information about The Trussell Trust and how you can help see more at

15 March 2020

SI Weybridge & District Murder Mystery Evening raises £1000 towards its #PinkTukTuk Appeal for The Rosie May Foundation

March 2020, who will ever forget it? The subtle but unbelievable news of Covid-19 infection cases in Europe grew steadily louder as our Club member Danny Sparkes and her team planned a Murder Mystery evening to raise funds for the 2020 Club goal to enable purchase of a Pink Tuk Tuk by the Rosie May Foundation.

In the final days of freedom, before lock down was even perceived, on March 7th the Club held a successful fundraiser.  Ottershaw Players organised the event performing an entertaining pantomime “The Mystery Murders”.  A show in two parts, the audience was spellbound as the characters and events unfurled and the producer was found dead in a dressing room. Over 50 participants followed the characters, the facts, the diversions and then debated the clues, circumstances and culprit over a tasty fish & chip supper. Finishing up with choc-ices and treats and washed down with a glass or two of wine conclusions were drawn and submitted. A masterful presentation of the secrets, surprises and solutions followed in Act II with each character assassinating another and slowly bringing the truths to light. After a fantastic dialogue, performed with panache, the killer was revealed. Only one table of six including a Soroptomister managed to deduce who the killer was!

A lively raffle followed, a few more drinks were consumed (after a quick Tesco run to top up the fast diminished bar!).   A ‘TukTuk Tastic’ night for sure. Approaching £1000 was raised on that wet damp evening, a fitting sum towards our 2020 goal. We must extend a huge club ’round of applause’ to Danny our extraordinary STAR performer for securing welcome donations for the raffle, the superb cast from Ottershaw Players and a tasteful venue.  This was most certainly a masterful occasion thanks to Danny’s hard work and talent in getting a job done. Not to miss either …thanking Colin who produced a fabulous life size pink Tuk Tuk for the club as you can see. Big thanks too to the backstage team in the kitchen and bar and hosts who charmed everyone and made the evening an event to be proud of.

Ticket sales were tough for an event held on a winter’s night during the COVID-9 pandemic. It was superb to see Soroptimists from Woking, Weybridge and even a TV celebrity enjoying the evening. The proceeds of £1000 will make a big contribution to our PINKTT target in 2020.

January 2020

‘SOROPPORTUNITY’ IN SOUTH AFRICA – Alexis Neville, Club Member and past Regional President reports

On my recent trip to South Africa I stayed with a Past Regional President of Southern Region.  She took me to meet a friend and fellow Cape of Good Hope Soroptimist Susan, who runs a Children’s Project.  The project is located in what these days they call an informal settlement, above Hout Bay south of Cape Town.  Susan originally thought of starting an orphanage but after 18 months getting to know the people in the settlement and asking what they wanted, she discovered they would prefer the children to stay in the community with relatives and friends rather than be separated from them.  However, many of the children did need help and support.  The children go to local schools but after school they go to the project for that help and support.  The volunteers at the project help the children to read, provide space and help for homework, provide some formal teaching by age group (particularly English) and fun and games.  They also provide a hot meal each evening and cold food to take home so they eat before school next day.  All the children receive hugs when they arrive and are listened to and cared for.  The volunteers also work within the settlement helping when there is a family crisis or other events.  When we were being shown around we met a teacher of the older children marking their English test. The questions were on the blackboard and one of them I’d have struggled to answer.  I also think a lot of children in the UK would have found the one asking them to form a sentence with a semi colon challenging.  We were also impressed with the children’s’ writing – neat and well formed.  Within the project there is also a separate training facility for teenagers where they are taught to be baristas so they can get jobs in the many coffee bars and restaurants in the locality.

One of the young volunteers from Sweden had the children write short pieces about their lives and the project and had these published in a beautiful colourful book that is sold to help fund the project.  One of the amazing sections is where they write about the fire in the settlement in 2014.  You can imagine how horrific it must have been with all the very flammable shacks so close together and roads too narrow for the fire engines. 

December 2019

Dorothy Clark MBE, Club Founder  reports on Visit to Sri Lanka

Dennis’ and my main reason for visiting Sri Lanka was to meet Dilini’s new baby girl born in July – this was our 26th visit to Sri Lanka and it has been wonderful to support, Dilini and Buddhini, the Tsunami orphans we met 14 years ago together with SI Weybridge & District.  Having seen them grow up and attending Dilini’s graduation ceremony from the University of Colombo and her wedding to Sagara we could not wait to meet their baby, Dewshi.  She is beautiful.