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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.

Dilini is now on maternity leave from her job at the Ministry of Resources and will be returning to work in February.  Buddhini was hoping to follow Dilini and undertake a Business Studies degree at the University of Colombo instead she has gained a place at the Open University.

We also took the opportunity to visit the Pink Tuk Tuks Sri Lanka Project in Telwatte which is situated about 15 miles from our hotel in Bentota.  The Project is a mission driven solution to provide safety for women and a sustainable income for families living on or below the poverty line.  Unfortunately it did not win the vote for the SIGBI Project 2019-2022 but they do have 9 Tuk Tuks now and are aiming for many more.

We were fortunate to meet Mary Storrie who set up the project in memory of her daughter, Rosie May, who was murdered, aged 10, in 2003.  Mary and her husband first set up the Rosie May Home for children who had lost parents in the tsunami in Sri Lanka and this expanded into Project Hope which is a Community Hub providing Community Development workers who support single mothers and children as showing the Rosie May

logo well as pre-school education and much more.  Mary was running a yoga course to raise money for the charity and we met the participants who had come from all over the world.  We were invited to lunch which had been cooked by the yoga group under the guidance of Mary.

Soroptimist International of Colombo was not holding a meeting during our visit but the Secretary of the club, Nelun Tennekoon, joined us in Bentota  for lunch with her husband, Anura Tennekoon, so we were able to share details of our various projects.  Anura is a very famous Sri Lankan cricketer who was Captain of Sri Lanka when they won the world cup in 1975.  Nelun also brought a card from their President, Tara, sending her best wishes to all the members of SI Weybridge and thanking us for being such great friends of Sri Lanka.

Bubbles and Berries


Danny Sparkes has kindly agreed to host a Bubbles and Berries Event at her home

On Saturday, 30th June 2018

at 10 Junewood Close, Woodham, KT15 3PX

In aid of VIP

4.00pm – 7.00pm

Tea & Temptation

Soroptimist International of Weybridge and SI Woking clubs once again held a very successful ‘Tea and Temptations’ fund raising event.The biennial event is very popular and we welcomed nearly a 100 to a wonderful tea and fashion show. Our thanks go to Mad Jaks, Betty and Claude and Phase Eight Weybridge, who provided the outfits..  They were worn  by members of the clubs who looked very elegant  and colourful. Members from a local Woking charity – Liaise Women’s Centre modelled clothes they had made, which were an imaginative twist on traditional dress. A number of stalls provided shopping opportunities for the guests and many took up the opportunity. A total of £1760 which will go to The Meru Women’s Garden Project in Kenya.

Pop up  2018

An inspired pop up was arrange by SI Weybridge and District to coincide with Weybridge Bake Off Competition in Weybridge. There are a lot more people who know that Soroptimists transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities. Who knows we may even get a new member or two.

Thanks Dorothy for the pitch!

Well done Danny and Alexis

Danny and Alexis promoting Soroptimist membership at Weybridge Bake Off

Easter Egg Coffee Morning 2018


On behalf of Weybridge & District Soroptimists may I say a very big thank you to those who came along this morning to support our Send Prison Easter project. 

Particular thanks to 

  • those who popped in with prizes, donations and eggs ahead, knowing you could not come and 
  • to the many bakers, prize contributors and friends who made this morning a special date. 
  • to Christine a fellow St George’s ‘Mum’ who could not join us supplied several generous prizes which made the raffle simply super BIG THANKS!. 
  • also to my Bob for all this work preparing the house for me
  • to Georgia for her excellent and creative baking and handy 
  • work hosting and Monica for the tip top welcome she gave all the guests, what do I do without willing friends?

 It was great to host you all and to see the eggs lined up as we finished and £125 banked towards the Send Project. 

Ann Maloney

STEM Challenge March 2018

The STEM Challenge for Surrey schoolgirls aged 12 to 14, which began in October 2017, came to a highly successful and enjoyable conclusion at the Finals and Prize-giving Evening at Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, on 8 March 2018, in the presence of the High Sheriff of Surrey, Robert Napier, CBE and the Vice Principal and Dean of Science at Royal Holloway, Paul Hogg. 

The purpose of the STEM Challenge is to encourage more girls to study and follow careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by developing the skills they will need: finding potential solutions to a problem, choosing the best, working it out in detail and – very importantly – presenting their results in writing and orally to an imposing panel of judges.  Surrey schools were invited to enter team projects based on sustainable and fit-for-purpose ideas to improve life for people in dire need in the poorest parts of the world.

The Panel judging the entries during the Finals comprised eight inspiring women who have all successfully followed STEM-based careers: Sandra Chinyere, a healthcare scientist at St Peter’s Hospital, Woking, who chaired the Panel; Anita Wu, a civil engineer, Elizabeth Lucek, a solar system physicist; Zahra Mohri, a bioengineer; Lisa Hudson, a horticulturalist at RHS Wisley; Adriana Dias and Maria Flavia Cicala, physics Euromasters post-graduate students at Royal Holloway and Rhiannon Evans, physics post-graduate student at Imperial College, London.

After the judges and the High Sheriff had seen the projects and questioned the students, and the judges had deliberated and reached a conclusion, the prize-giving ceremony began with a welcome from the Vice Principal and Dean of Science of Royal Holloway, Paul Hogg.

Danny Sparkes, President of the Soroptimist International Southern England Region, announced the results.  The Year 8 prize was won by a team of five girls from Woking High School, who devised a food conservation scheme based around a solar-powered fridge.  The girls had thought a lot about how to overcome the real environmental constraints and used multimedia to present their interesting project.  The Year 9 prize went to a team of three girls from Guildford County School for their emergency lighting project.  The Highly Commended prize went to another team of girls from the same school for their emergency food project.  Every girl who took part in the competition received a Soroptimist International certificate of achievement and two bags of gifts (donated by Farrans Construction and Thales Group).  The winning schools each received £250 and each girl in the winning teams was awarded £50.

The High Sheriff, Robert Napier, presented the prizes after inspecting the various projects with a knowledgeable eye, having studied higher level science himself. He said to the students: “Science is riveting and there is so much more to discover.  The work you have done shows how capable you are.  Very soon you are to be pushing back the frontiers of science. Good luck!”

The judges were extremely impressed with the amount of work and effort that had been put in by all the teams for this Challenge. Addressing the girls, Sandra Chinyere said “These are all fantastic projects and you should be proud of what you’ve achieved. This gives me confidence that the future of women in science and engineering is in safe hands.” Anita Wu said: “I’ve been inspired by all I’ve seen and heard tonight.”

The prize-giving ceremony was also an opportunity to give the students a glimpse into what it is like to work in the world of science and technology. Each judge described her own ‘STEM journey’ and conveyed her enthusiasm for her chosen path.  Anita Wu, in her keynote speech, answered the question ‘Why study STEM?’ by saying: “STEM makes sense, is logical and makes a difference. STEM lets you be creative!’ 

Elaine Evans, one of the lead organisers of the event, said “We were thrilled to collaborate with Royal Holloway this year and to hold the Finals and Prize-giving Evening on the campus at Egham. Thanks are due particularly to Anna Christodoulou is the SEPnet/Ogden Trust Outreach Officer at Royal Holloway, and to the Physics Ambassador students who all worked so hard to make sure everything ran smoothly.  We look forward to cooperating with them again on next year’s Soroptimist STEM Challenge!”

The organisers are most grateful for the generous support of the Ken and Marjorie Robertson Trust (who donated the team prizes), Farrans Construction, Thales, Southern Co-op, Lillywhite & Co, L’Oreal and Royal Holloway, University of London.


It is well-known that fewer girls than boys study STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – to advanced level. Although the proportion is rising, the percentage of girls taking up STEM-based careers is below 20%.  The members of Soroptimist International are keen to encourage this upward trend, which is why the three Soroptimist International Clubs of Surrey Hills, Weybridge and Woking organised this STEM Challenge for schoolgirls in Key Stage 3/Years 8 & 9 for the second time.  The aim of the Challenge was to inspire girls to study STEM subjects and gain the confidence to overcome the barriers they may encounter in pursuing a STEM-based career.

Federation Conference at Cardiff October 2017

Danny’s Sparklers

A number of club members attended the Federation Conference held in Cardiff. It was a very good conference with excellent speakers and incite into some of the projects being undertaken by clubs across the federation.

The speakers included Michael Kaufman, who started the white ribbon campaign, men against violence against women. Mandy Hickson talked about her career as an RAF Tornado pilot and Katherine Grainger on her career as an Olympic medal winning rower. Both are inspirational role models for women in very different areas.

The big event at conference was the installation of one of our members, Danny Sparkes as President of Southern Region. Her theme is ‘Be the Spark – inspire and transform’ Many regional members dressed appropriately for the Change of Insignia and the regional dinner, in sparking T shirts.

Ten Years at Primary School (when you’re over 60!)

Over ten years ago, after a request from Dorothy Clark, Head Governor at Burhill School, we as a Club, volunteered to ‘help’ with gardening to make the entrance of the School look reasonably attractive.  This became a regular visit. 

Added to this, I volunteered to help with 5-6 year olds who needed assistance with English as a second language.  At that time, there were 4 children who were recent immigrants from various parts of the world, including the Philippines and Mexico.  Three of the children were girls and I felt that this came under my remit of ‘helping girls’.  Apart from helping their reading abilities, I chatted to them about everything that they were interested in, trying to increase their vocabulary as I realised very soon that they spoke very little English at home.  (I was even mentioned in dispatches at the end of the school year!).

I thoroughly enjoyed reading with and chatting to the children, and they seemed to love contact with someone who was not a teacher or relative (especially if they did not have a ‘granny’).  Because I was ‘old school’, I insisted on manners, grammar, etc, and some of the children found this a challenge, but usually fell in with my ways and were happy to learn about my (historic) education!  In fact, there were a few lads who really appreciated the boundaries and tried to read/chat with me every time. 

I continued this every week for the next 10 years, not only reading, vocabulary, boosting confidence, etc, but helping with beekeeping, science experiments, being characters from books and even ‘Lady Susan, the Victorian Benefactor’ of the School – in fact, almost anything and everything that was needed at the time.  Often the cry was “Mrs Sparkes, could you just ……”.   I even joined the class on school outings if they needed extra helpers.   I am glad to say that I was welcomed by the class teachers, classroom assistants and, fortunately, the Head Teacher.

After 10 years of volunteering, and with the advent of my Regional Presidential year, it was time to hang up my teacher’s hat and allow myself time to think (or do the paperwork!) for my next challenge.

Danny Sparkes

October 2017

Attending Soroptimist International AGM Board Meeting and Change of Insignia


At the end of July one of our members attended the Soroptimist International AGM and the first Board Meeting of the new Biennial, in Rotterdam. These were interesting and motivating meetings. The day included presentations by some of our UN representatives and covered the import role they play working with other NGOs within the UN and the demonstrated the significant influence we can have.

In the evening there was a dinner and change of insignia as the SI President for the next two years took office. The new President is Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, who is Dutch. Her great interest is water and the theme of her Presidents appeal is Women, Water and Leadership.

At the reception before the dinner the Deputy Mayor of Swolle -where Mariet is from, gave a wonderful speech about her achievements. He then (totally to her surprise) presented her with an honour from the King, the Knight Order of the Lion. An honour indeed for her and our organisation.

Women, water and Leadership

Introducing the new SI president

Meeting up with rosemarie from Almelo

Receiving and honour from the King – Orange order for the lady in pink

Ruby Celebration lunch 


Charity Bridge Afternoon

Soroptimist International Woking and Weybridge Clubs

In aid of Home-Start Runnymede and Woking – a voluntary organisation that offers support, friendship and practical help to parents living in the boroughs with at least one child under five. The volunteers help families under stress in their own homes to prevent family crisis and breakdown.

Wednesday 11th October 2017 2pm-5pm


Coldharbour Road, Pyrford, GU22 8SP

Information and bookings: 01932 346797;

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Summer Luncheon

In aid of Mulberry House and Parkinson’s UK Sunday 20th August 2017 12.30 pm Willowbank, Hamm Court Weybridge KT13 8YD Cost £25 includes:

A welcome prosecco drink Glass of wine with meal Raffle Paid Bar

Cheques should be payable to: SI Weybridge and District

Tickets available from:
Brenda Midwinter: 01932 841363

Many thanks to Anne and Bob Gleasure for hosting the event

Oatlands Village Fayre

We had great fun running the stall the weather was very kind. We managed to sell over £70 worth of WOW bags, ran a guess how many lolly pops in the jar competition and promoted our work with the possibility of recruiting a few new members.


Successful Girls STEM Challenge

To encourage more girls to take Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and thus open up lucrative and interesting careers to them, Weybridge joined with Woking and Surrey Hills Soroptimist clubs to run a STEM Challenge. Teams of girls from key stages 8 and 9 were invited to submit entries. The challenge was to devise a project to produce something that would be useful and sustainable in the developing world.

The panel of judges was made up of women all with successful careers in STEM. They included a Healthcare Scientist, a Water Engineer, a Physicist doing work on objects going into space, a Neuroscientist, a Tunnel Engineer and a PHD student working on a new contrast agent for scans. They judged the written submissions by the girls which described how they developed their ideas, the research they did and the conclusions they reached. The 9 teams then presented their projects to the judges at Guildford University.

Olein Webster + Elaine EvansIMG_0196IMG_4459 (1) IMG_4469 IMG_4470 Students presenting project STEM 7 Alexis Neville judging 2 Mayor and Mayoress inspecting multicoat projectWinning team 2

All the projects demonstrated amazing creativity and application by the girls. The eventual winning team was from Thamesmead school. Their project was an easy to produce water filter using natural, locally available materials.  This was tested using good scientific methods to establish it did produce water that was clean and contained significantly less bacteria than the originally muddy water they used.

At the presentation ceremony Anita Wu, a Tunnel Engineer gave an inspiring talk on how she arrived at her chosen career and the exciting projects she has worked on. All the girls who took part received a Bronze Crest Award and two cinema vouchers. The winning team members each received a cheque for £50 and their school a cheque for £250.

All the teams showed such enthusiasm and the evening was really wonderful to be a part of. Weybridge and Woking clubs are hoping to run another event next year.

Eggciting News


A whopping 44 easter eggs and £192.50 collected at SI Weybridge and District coffee morning kindly hosted by Margaret Sear.  As we did last year, members and their friends are invited to bring along an Easter Egg, so that together with the entrance money and the profits from the bring-and-buy, we would be able to make sure that every child with a mum at Send Womens Prison could be given an Easter Egg.   

Mulberry House

The Mulberry House residents have passed on their grateful thanks to the Club for their thoughtful Christmas cards and messages  containing a £10 gift card for each. This is the second year that club members have forfeited their Christmas present exchange in favour of giving the ladies at Mulberry House a welcomed treat. Mulberry House is part of the charity Chapter 1 supporting women aged 18 to 35 for up to two years. The ladies come from all over Surrey and are encouraged to become independent as possible furthering their education and/or gaining employment.

Additionally the Club have given their support by supplying a ‘cleaning hamper’ to a young woman re-housed on the 23rdDecember which was gratefully received in addition to her voucher. Sally told me ‘it’s wonderful to be thought of, cleaning items are so expensive and I want to keep my new home sparkling, thank you’.

So thank you Soroptimists, sparkling as always do!  


Friendship Weekend 2016

Thursday June 16 to Sunday 19 June

On Thursday 16th June four sisters from SI Almelo, Holland, six from Kristiansand, Norway, five from Munsterlandsud, Germany and five from Silkeborg, Denmark met members of SI Weybridge at the Holiday Inn, Shepperton for a Friendship Weekend.  Five members of Weybridge were staying at the hotel and during the weekend other Weybridge members arrived and went on the outings.

Group Photo Walton and District Almelo (Netherlands), Silkeborg (Denmark) and Munsterland Sud (Germany)

Group Photo Walton and District
Almelo (Netherlands), Silkeborg (Denmark) and Munsterland Sud (Germany)


On Friday morning everyone was taken by car to Runnymede to board a boat to Windsor.  On arrival at Runnymede some members walked across the rather muddy field to the site of The JFK Memorial.

On the way upstream everyone was treated to the sight of ducklings, cygnets, herons and cormorants as well as many beautiful riverside properties and boats. There was also an on-board commentary and the opportunity to buy drinks and snacks.  There are 2 very low bridges en route and the roof of the boat had to be lowered which caused quite a lot of amusement.  The weather was dry but cloudy but on arrival at Windsor the sun came out as we walked through the town to the Castle.Windsor To Runneymede by boat

  On arrival at Windsor Castle everyonimage5e walked around the State Apartments and saw the Dolls House at and there was time to stroll around the town at their own pace and those that wanted to had the opportunity to shop for souvenirs. Eventually everyone met up again on the river bank ready for the trip back to Runnymede. The Royal Standard was flying over the castle but as the Ascot races were on it was assumed that the Queen would be at Ascot as she is a very keen horsewomen and owner.P1000146

Back at the hotel there was  time to freshen up and then it was off again and this time to a riverside pub where everyone enjoyed fish and chips and their choice of dessert and drinks after which everyone was ready for a good night’s sleep.

On Saturday morning a coach picked everyone up at 9.30 for a trip to Polesden Lacey.  On the way Jeannie gave a quick talk explaining who the house had belonged to and how it got in to the hands of the National Trust.  On arrival, the house was yet to open so everyone took the opportunity to visit the grounds and the rose garden especially delighted the visitors as did the surrounding countryside.  Once inside the house everyone admired the beautiful rooms and the music which was being played on the grand piano.  A short time was left to visit the gift shop and then it was back on the coach to:

Watts Gallery Artists’ Village

On arrival everyone enjoyed a very good lunch of quiche, a variety of salads and a drink in the Old Kiln building after which there was time to explore the Gallery, The De Morgan Collection, the Studio, the Watts Chapel and Limnerslease at leisure.  At 3pm everyone returned to the Old Kiln building and was given a cup of tea and biscuits.  The curator of the museum gave a talk with pictures about their new collection of early photographs and the progression of photography in the Victorian era. It became all the rage especially after it was possible to print multiple copies of “carte de visite” and there were many familiar names, but maybe not faces, to see including Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Ford Maddox Brown and many other celebrities of the time including one of Queen Victoria with a son, a grandson and a great-grandson all of whom would later be king in their turn as Edward VII, George V and Edward VIII.

Back on the coach and it was off to Guildford Cathedral.  The purpose of the visit was to see the Soroptimist stained glass window.  Unfortunately the Cathedral is undergoing a major repair and cleaning operation and there was scaffolding up inside so the window was obscured somewhat.  However, with a bit of bending and stretching it could be seen quite well.

Throughout the weekend the weather had been very variable but luckily the sun shone just at the right times.

image12image8image11That evening the Club hosted a Gala Dinner and we were joined by Ruth Healey, Regional President and four  “Soroptimisters” .  One member of each of the visiting clubs thanked Weybridge for the great visit and hoped that they would do as good a job when it was their turn.  They also all gave a donation to the Club to be used to help any cause that was chosen.

  Sunday morning saw the departure of most of our visitors and Margaret Sears kindly offered a brunch at her house for those who were not leaving first thing.

We were all very sorry to say goodbye to our new and old friends but with promises that it wouldn’t be long before were all back together again.

Below are some emails of thanks from our sisters.

Dear Soroptimist Club of Weybridge,

You arranged a wonderful friendship meeting, and it was so good to see old and new friends.

Everything was perfect and interesting! The hotel was very comfortable in nice surroundings. And to do sightseeing with local friends is much better than being a lonely tourist!!

The boat trip on the Thames River was an adventure, and so was Windsor with its impressive castle. We also got a good impression of your fertile, green country! Fish and chips is my favourite eating, and it was a lovely pub and good company.

The coach tour to the National Trust property with the lovely flower garden and museum and on to the Watts gallery and the chapel was all something you do not get as a regular tourist.

And luckily for Betten and me, we did not leave after the farewell party on Sunday night, so we got the wonderful invitation to brunch in Margaret’s huge and beautiful garden! That was a real treat! Thank you, Margaret!!

I am very grateful for my Soroptimist membership. That has given me friends both at home and abroad. Hopefully we shall all see each other in Silkeborg, Denmark next year.


Dear all,
Thank you so much for some great days together and such a successful meeting.
I enjoyed every minute!
And a special thank you to the five of you from me for all your driving around with me! Also it was a special welcome to be met at Heathrow on arrival, much appreciated!
The days were so well organized and made it possible to meet with everyone and have a good visit. Well thought. And everywhere you made sure to have everyone with you!
Thank you – and welcome in Silkeborg next year.
Love from Hanne

Yet another ‘thank you’ from one of our visitors.

Dear Danny

Thank you so much for wonderful days and a very successful Friendship Meeting.  Special thank you, for all our talk together. I am very pleased, that I have met you.

Give my regards to all the members in the club

 Hope to see you in Silkeborg next year.

 All the best


 More thanks


Dear Alexis,

Thank you very much for sending the nice Photos of the Chapel and many thanks for you and your “best sisters” for offering us those unforgettable impressions of your country and for the dear hospitality in these days. Hope to see you in Germany next time. We also try to do our best.

With kind regards



Dear Alexis,
Thank you very much for the splendid meeting! Everything went so well, even the weather didn’t disappoint us. Now you’ll need a rest and I hope that you can enjoy a nice summer.
Please give my regards to all your club-members, and thanks to all those who helped with the organisation of the successful event.
We had a good journey back in spite of a delay of one hour.
Love Maria

Welcome Dee Egan our latest member of SI Weybridge and District Inducted at June Supper Meeting


Dee Egan joined us at the June meeting – in time to meet our Friendship Link members at the Saturday Dinner. Dee learnt about Soroptimism at Alexis’ Christmas drinks party from members of both Weybridge and Woking clubs who spoke to her on that occasion. They clearly conveyed enthusiasm and friendship, so our thanks to them.  Dee has an accountant background – being good with numbers always being a skill we can benefit from. Dee worked as a Project Manager implementing Accounting and other IT systems so her organisational and management skills will also be of benefit to the club.


Tea and Temptation

Our super Soroptimist models

Our super Soroptimist models



Another very successful fundraising event has been held by SI Weybridge and SI Woking. Our bi-annual High Tea with High Fashion is always very popular and raised over £1500 in support of the MERU Women’s Gardens Project.

Image 1The tea was served to 100 guests and there were a number of stalls selling accessories to tempt them. Fashion items from a number of local stores were modelled by Soroptimist members who circulated amongst the guests so they could get a closer look at the wonderful outfits.

Our thanks to the outlets that supplied the fashion items for the show – Betty and Claude – Cobham, Mad Jak – Shere and Phase 8 – Weybridge.

 Image%202Image 5Image 9


Marathon MileMakers

Two members for SI Weybridge with other members of SI Southern England Region acted as  MileMakers for the second mile on the Southampton half marathon and 10K run on Sunday 24th April.  We decorated along the mile and acted a stewards to ensure the runners and spectators safety. Although it meant an early start on a very cold bright spring morning it was a fun way of raising the profile of Soroptimism. We coincidentally acted as friendly faces of greeting for many of the passengers from a cruise ship having a day ashore. One women from Brazil recognised the Soroptimist banner and asked to have her photograph taken with us. International friendship spreading the word.20160424_101430

Welcome Ann Maloney our latest member of SI Weybridge and District

Dorothy Clark and our new member Ann Maloney

Dorothy Clark and our new member Ann Maloney






What a lovely big pile of Easter Eggs were donated at our February coffee morning at Margaret Sears’ home.  As we did last year, members and their  friends were invited to bring along an Easter Egg, so that together with the entrance money and the profits from the bring-and-buy and other stalls, we would be able to make sure that every child with a mum at Send Womens Prison could be given an Easter Egg.  This was a happy and useful way to give the children a treat, as their lives are often quite deprived.


In spite of the heavy rain, lots of people came along, and enjoyed coffee and cake, and made purchases from the bring-and-buy and two different jewellery stalls.  At the end of the morning, the magnificent total was 38 eggs, 7 packets of miniature eggs, 3 Lindt bunnies, and  £197.50 in cash.  Thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to such a successful morning, and especially to Margaret for her generous hospitality.



Margaret Sears and Danny Sparkes


Friendship Weekend 2016  Thursday June 16 to Sunday 19 June

We have great pleasure in announcing our Friendship Weekend to be held here in Weybridge from Thursday June 16th to Sunday June 19th.  

Our programme is almost completed and we are now able to give you an outline of what is planned – although there may be one or two small changes to be made.


Arrive at the HOLIDAY INN HOTEL, SHEPPERTON-ON-THAMES during the afternoon.  The hotel is situated very close to the M25 motorway and is very convenient for Heathrow and Gatwick Airports.  We suggest that you make your own way to the hotel from your respective airports.  (If you are flying to Luton or Stansted airport you will need to get a train into London and then a local train from Waterloo to Walton-on-Thames.)

The Holiday Inn is a modern hotel with facilities including a swimming pool, spa and gym.  We have arranged for you to either have a single en suite room, or twin en suite room if you prefer to share with a friend.

In the evening there will be a Welcome Supper.


After breakfast we will be taking you on a river trip from the world famous site of Runnymede where Magna Carta was signed, to Royal Windsor where there will be an opportunity to visit Windsor Castle and see the town.  Packed lunch will be supplied.

In the evening we will have supper at a typical Riverside Inn


After breakfast a coach will take us to a beautiful National Trust property, Polesden Lacey, a Regency / Edwardian house.  We then travel on to Watts Gallery Artists Village, a well-known Arts and Crafts Centre, where we will have lunch, tour the galleries, hear a talk and have tea.

The coach will then take us to visit the striking modern Guildford Cathedral with a Soroptimist window.

There will be opportunities for shopping at all three of these venues.

In the evening there will be a Gala Dinner at the hotel


Dorothy Clark was awarded an MBE in this year’s Queen’s Honours list for services to education and the community. Her investiture took place at Windsor Castle on Wednesday 25th November where she received the award from HRH Princess Anne

Screenshot 2016-02-08 14.36.45



Introduce a latest member of SI Weybridge and District

SI Weybridge and District  welcomed our lastest member Janet Evans to the club during our October meeting.Dorothy Clark welcomes or new member Janet Evans

Dorothy Clark welcomes or new member Janet Evans

Charity Bridge Afternoon in aid of “Volunteering in Pretoria”.

SI Weybridge and SI Woking got together at the end of September 2015 to organise a Charity Bridge Afternoon to raise funds for the Volunteering in Pretoria (VIP) project.

On a sunny afternoon in Pyrford, bridge enthusiasts gathered at the Church of the Good Shepherd to ply their card-playing skills on behalf of the Soroptimist International Southern England Regional project to send a volunteer to South Africa to gain experience working with charitable projects and experience the hospitality and beauty of the country.  The successful candidate will benefit from the strong friendship links between SI Southern England and SI Tshwane and SI Durban in South Africa.

We sold books and raffle tickets and provided a delicious afternoon tea.  £540 was raised for the Volunteering in Pretoria VIP project.

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Home made cakes for the players

Home made cakes for the players


A Wonderful Friendship Visit to Norway


SI Weybridge has, for over 20 years, been a member of a five way friendship link with clubs Kristiansand (Norway),

The resort where we stayed

The resort where we stayed

Almelo (Netherlands), Silkeborg (Denmark) and Munsterland Sud (Germany). In late August 7 members of the club attended a Friendship meeting in Southern Norway organised by the Kristiansand club. This had a changed format as everyone stayed in a beautiful resort on a fjord. Previously we had stayed in member’s homes. This new format allowed us to mingle with all the other attendees and get to know them better and to make interesting trips into the surrounding area.

Art on the beach

Art on the beach

We visited a museum to hear stories of poor young farm children who walked for days to spend the summer herding for bigger farms, saw a wonderful salmon ladder tunnelled into the mountain, enjoyed the view from the top a lighthouse where there was an art installation on the beach. We took walks in the country and even got lost in a wonderful forest!

We had a wonderful time and experienced great friendship.

Successful Completion of our Tsunami Orphans Project


Dorothy Clark a member of SI Weybridge recently visited Sri Lanka to attend a graduation ceremony. One of the graduates – Dilini, was one of two sisters who were orphaned in the terrible Tsunami in 2004. They had been travelling on a train washed away by the tidal wave. Dorothy had been in Sri Lanka during the Tsunami and raised funds in the UK, which she took out to Sri Lanka in 2005.

One of the members of our Friendship link club SI Colombo introduced Dorothy to the orphans and SI Weybridge agreed to raise funds to be used for their education.

Dilini and Buddhini in 2005

Dilini and Buddhini in 2005

Dilini and Buddhini in 2005

Dilini and Buddhini in 2015

Each year for the next ten years we raised money, which was put into an account and administered locally by SI Colombo, for the sisters educational needs. With the money and encouragement of SI Weybridge the eldest girl Dilini has now completed university and the youngest Buddhini successfully has completed her GCSE’s. Dorothy was thrilled to be able to attend Dilini’s graduation. With this successful outcome and with Dilini now being in a position to support her sister, we now consider this project completed.

Attending the SI International Convention Istanbul

IMGP0002_2In July three members from the Weybridge club joined 1500 Soroptimists from around the world for the SI Convention in Istanbul.


These events are held every four years and are a great opportunity for meeting fellow Soroptimists from all the federations, to learn about the progress and issues for women and girls and to share experiences of the work we do.



There were a host of inspirational speakers with an emphasis on education for women and girls on one day and defeating violence against women on another. With the breakout sessions as well as the keynote speakers a large number of areas and topics were covered providing much food for thought and motivation to action.

Friendship around the pool

Friendship around the pool


There were also opportunities to relax and make friends. An evening cruise on the Bosphorus was enchanting and the friendship evening around the pool featured ice cream kebabs!

International Women’s Day – 2015


Weybridge club is once again joined with SI Woking to celebrate International Women’s Day on the Bedser Bridge in Woking. On Saturday 7th of March from 12 noon  we will be handing out white ribbons, to show support for women around the world.IMGP0006

Tea and Temptation

Enjoying Tea

Enjoying Tea


Another very successful fundraising event has been held by SI Weybridge and SI Woking. Our bi-annual High Tea with High Fashion is always very popular and raised over £1500 for the Soroptimist BiG Project (Birthing in the Gambia). This project works in an area where infant and maternal mortality rates are very high and is helping to make the birth of babies a happy rather than a tragic event.

The Soroptimist and Shifa Models

The Soroptimist and Shifa Models



The tea was served to 100 guests and there were a number of stalls selling accessories to tempt them. Fashion items from a number of local stores were modelled by Soroptimist members who circulated amongst the guests so they could get a closer look at the wonderful outfits.


There was also a number of beautiful typical asian costumes show by members of Shifa (the Asian Women’s Wellbeing Project.

A closer inspection

A closer inspection


Our thanks to the outlets that supplied the fashion items for the show – Ben Vesito – Weybridge, Betty and Claude – Cobham, Mad Jak – Shere and M&S – Camberley.


Dementia Friends

An open meeting was held to give people an understanding of dementia and the small things that they can do that can make a difference. The speaker Tony Oakden emphasised the need to see past the dementia and contact the person. All those who attended are now registered Dementia Friends.

South Africa Study Tour

In November two members of the club travelled with a party from SI Southern England Region for a two week Study Tour of South Africa. The group visited Soroptimist Clubs in Cape Town. Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Tshwane. The clubs showed us many of their wonderful projects ,so many we soon ran out of superlatives to describe them.

Project visited included:

  • A Womens Refuge supported by Cape of Good Hope Club who had built a serenity garden.
  • A rape crisis centre supported by Port Elizabeth club. This was a ‘one stop shop’ located in a hospital where police, medical staff, councillors and the prosecutor were all based and supported the victims of these crimes to ensure they gathered the evidence to be able to prosecute the perpetrators.
  • A nutrition centre supported by the Grahamstown club, where the most needy children in the area were fed to enable them to be able to concentrate better at school.
  • Hope Farm supported by Durban club where the most unwanted children are fostered and some adopted by an amazing couple.
  • A home for children who have suffered abuse or are Aids orphans run by a member of the Johannesburg club.
  • The Children and housemother No1House, SOS Children's Village Mamelodi

    The Children and housemother No1House, SOS Children’s Village Mamelodi

    A centre providing outreach workers for families of the chronically ill and aids orphans that also provided drop in centres where children were fed and entertained after school.

  • With Tshwane club we went to meet the children in No1 House SOS Children’s village Mamelodi, which has been supported by the region for over 4 years. This was a particularly happy occasion seeing how well the children were looked after in a very homely environment.


All The Soroptimists we met were wonderfully hospitable and put in a great deal of time and effort to show us their projects and entertain us.  It was an exceptionally busy two weeks but we came back with a greater understanding of all aspects of South Africa, with many new friends and a very high regard for all the good people we met.


Bridge Tea in aid of Send Family Link

The Bridge Players taking part

The Bridge Players taking part





Wonderful home made cakes

Wonderful home made cakes

Working with SI Woking club a fundraising Bridge Tea was held to raise money for the Send Prison Family Link, who provide invaluable support to the families of women in Send prison. The players enjoyed an afternoon playing bridge with friends and were provided with a wonderful and much appreciated tea with homemade cakes and sandwiches. There was also a raffle and £640 was raised in total.


Presenting the Cheque

Presenting the Cheque



Mary’s Meals – Back Packs

The completed backpacks

The completed backpacks


The club has enjoyed collecting , sorting and filling backpacks for Mary’s Meals. These backpacks go to schools where Mary’s Meals provide school meals, such as in Malawi in Africa.  The back packs include items for school such as pens and pencils, items of clothing, basic toiletries and a ball. Twenty full backpacks were sent to Mary’s Meals along with a number of additional items for them to use.

Bubbles and Berries

Members and friends enjoyed a wonderful summer afternoon in a members garden, drinking bubbly and eating delicious berries. Warm conversation in the warm sunshine made it a very relaxed event and raised money for our current local project – Elmbridge Homestart.

Domestic Violence Workshop

A Domestic Violence workshop was recently held in conjunction with SI Woking. This raised awareness of this important subject and provided updates on the governments definition of Domestic violence. This now includes anyone over the age of 16 being abused by someone who they are in a relationship with or who is close family member. It also covered the work being done within Surrey to encourage the various agencies and organisations involved to work together to ensure the support for survivors of this pervasive crime. A visual demonstration with string was provided to show how many interlinked concerns can trap the victim to stay in an abusive relationship.

Being trapped in an abusive relatinship

Being trapped in an abusive relatinship