A brilliant reason for celebrating
On 21 June 1921, a group of women met at the Hotel Oakland in San Francisco (USA). They formed a Members Committee in order to launch the world’s very first Soroptimist International Club.
Did they realise back then how enormous the network of Soroptimist clubs would become? Probably not that day, but by 1926, Mrs Fox-Pitt, founder member of the first Soroptimist International Club in the UK was able to say: “I do not think I am being over optimistic when I predict that in a few years’ time there will be a Soroptimist Club in every town and city of importance in Europe and America.
Now, of course, there are many Soroptimist International Clubs on every continent.
So throughout 2021 we, Soroptimist International Great Britain & Ireland – Sigbi, our Federation – together with Soroptimists around the world, will be celebrating 100 years of Soroptimist action.
How are we celebrating our Bright Past and Brilliant future?
Celebrating Women from our Bright Past
We will be celebrating Soroptimists past and present. The 100 4 100 Campaign has identified over 100 successful women who deserve special mention. So, nationally, we will celebrate 12 Soroptimists a month for the twelve months of 2021.
We’re also celebrating some of the Soroptimists in our Club who left their mark on their community and beyond.
Dr Mary Baker MBE, BA, Hon DSc
Dr Mary Baker MBE was a member and later honorary member of SI Woking and District for many years until demands of her professional work prevented full engagement. She was President in 1985-6 and also held the post of club treasurer. Dr Baker remains a supporter and friend to members. Amongst her many achievements Mary has held the roles of Chair of the Working Group on Parkinson’s Disease, formed by the World Health Organization and President of the European Brain Council. Mary has received awards including the prestigious British Neuroscience Association Award.
Audrey Taylor is a Chartered Physiotherapist. After training and working at Kings College Hospital, she began working locally. Rowley Bristol Orthopaedic Hospital, St Peter’s Hospital and Botleys Park Hospital – and private patients – all benefited from her expertise and experience over many years.
Audrey is a long-standing member of Soroptimist International. She has held posts at local, regional and national level. She was President on two occasions (1988-9 and 2001-2) and is currently our Membership Officer. In 1995-6, she was President of SI Southern Region and oversaw the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Soroptimist International. At national level, she served on the board of the SIGBI Benevolent Fund.
During her long years of membership of SI Woking, Audrey has contributed to many community support activities. Together with a sister club member, the late Joan Everett, she was instrumental in founding the Woking branch of The Osteoporosis Society. Our Club subsequently raised funds to help St Peter’s Hospital to get its first Bone Density (DEXA) Scanner. And Your Sanctuary (Surrey Women’s Aid) knows her well because for ten years, and until recently, she was one of their Trustees.
We are lucky indeed to have Audrey as a member. She unfailingly inspires all of us with her knowledge and enthusiasm.
A Memorial Statue linking our Bright Past and Brillian Future
Our National Federation, Sigbi, has commissioned a statue to commemorate 100 years of Soroptimism. It will be installed in the National Memorial Arboretum during 2021.
Planting Trees for our Brilliant Future
We are planning to mark the Soroptimist centenary by planting a tree in Woking. We already have one – a joint effort by SI Woking and Woking Lions – in Jubilee Square. Trees that are nurtured and loved last a long time – just like our Soroptimist International organisation.
Special Celebratory Events
Soroptimists will get together at the House of Lords for a celebratory reception on 12 May 2021. There will also be special events in the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments.