Afternoon tea with SI Essen

We were delighted to host 8 members of SI Essen in Germany for afternoon tea on 4 October. Their President Sabine Reimann contacted us through our website to say that they were planning to come to Winchester for a weekend and could we meet up.

The initial contact came about when one of our members, who works for international collections on a self employed basis, Beatriz Sampson, gave a lecture to the Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft (German British Society) in Essen about the V&A and Sabine Reimann had attended and spoken to Beatriz. The lecture evening had been arranged by the Soroptimists and the Society.

Beatriz had been a member of SI Munster in Westphalia before coming to England and she has been consultant curator to the Jewellery Gallery some years ago in the V&A. We enjoyed a visit to the Pearls exhibition there which Beatriz had curated.

The SI Essen visit was a little short notice as many members were busy or away but four of us were able to be there. Jennifer Laute offered to host the tea in her home and this was very much appreciated. Along with Jennifer, Julie Blackwell, Gina Bird and Jo Gilbertson contributed food to make a very impressive tea.

The members were staying at the Hotel du Vin and had spent a fascinating morning touring Winchester and the Cathedral which they found very interesting and enjoyed the historical town. However they were keen to explore the shops and boutiques for the rest of their stay as well as a scheduled visit to the City Mill, the South Downs, Winchester College and the hospital of St Cross. With an itinerary like that the only opportunity to see them was after their Winchester tour!

They support similar projects to ourselves with Domestic Violence and trafficking being a strong lead and also a group of disadvantaged elderly ladies in their city. Amazingly Essen supports three SI clubs. They have 19 members in total (compared with our 14) and their youngest member in her twenties was with them. Many of them are working too and their club is coming up for 45 years. They also have similar recruitment problems.

We look forward to an interesting liaison with SI Essen and will be in touch with them. They ended their visit with a generous donation of £100 to the club and an invitation to visit them in Essen, in true Soroptimist fashion.