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President Susie goes to SIGBI conference, her November newsletter




I feel very humbled and privileged to represent S I Yorkshire as President. Thank you to all who attended Conference, even though the logistics of a London Conference were difficult. I really appreciate all your kind words and support and I will endeavour to live up to your expectations.

I would like to thank my Planning Team who have been so supportive and I know will help me going forward. I also appreciate the offers of help from previous Regional Presidents which I will definitely take up!

The last few days in London have been so memorable. The presentations have been outstanding. Initial feelings of disappointment at the last-minute change of the keynote speaker were dispelled by an inspiring informal chat given by Monty Halls. Stepping into the breach, he gave a humorous, knowledgeable and inspiring talk. Due to his interest in the natural world, he left his career in the Marines to train as a Marine Biologist. He spent time with his family in the Galapagos Islands whilst filming a TV Series and the incredible relationship he has with his young daughters was plain to see. He has also trained as a fisherman and lived amongst the locals. He noted that it was the women in this community who were the cohesive and driving force. He pleaded that we need to respect culture and traditions.

He has developed a conservation project – Generation Sea Change. Their latest project is to promote a Blue Box scheme to engage young people in coastal areas. As Director of Programme, Lindsay Green has suggested that SIGBI could become involved in this project. Monty genuinely believes that the women he has worked with make the best leaders on expeditions as they naturally listen and work through a problem. He was positive that as there is now a rise in young women involved in conservation, they are proactive and things are starting to happen. We need to engage with young people and actually encourage them to experience nature first hand which leads them to develop a passion for nature.He explained that it was his mother, a Yorkshire lass, who had shaped him. Indeed, Monty was born in the same city as myself – Wakefield! Check out the Video reel he uploaded about SIGBI. Lindsay has posted it on Facebook.

The other session that I will mention is the morning of Programme Action. We were privileged to listen to three remarkable speakers.

Louisa Rolfe OBE is Assistant Commissioner Frontline Policing in the Met; Hasina Safi is a Civil Society and Women’s Rights Activist; Divya Arya is BBC Women’s Affairs Reporter BBC World News.

Louisa was refreshingly honest about the failures of The Met and Criminal Justice system and how she is leading the effort to tackle the issues of domestic abuse. As the National Lead for the police on this, I am optimistic that action may happen. There is now a focus on the offending behaviour and not the credibility of the victim.

Hasina highlighted that due to her involvement with the Women’s Ministry in Afghanistan, when the Taliban took over in 2021 her life was in danger until she was able to relocate to the UK. She explained that over the previous 20 years, much work had been done to educate the women of Afghanistan that the behaviour they were exposed to was often abusive and thus unacceptable. As a fellow Soroptimist she urged us to help the women in Afghanistan by being coordinated and use our UN status to maintain their profile.

Divya Spoke about “from fear to fightback” and how violence against women in India is starting to become unacceptable. The harrowing account of the rape, torture and murder of Jyoti Singh in 2012 and a social media video of depravity in Manipur in 2023 have shaken the conscience of the masses in India. Laws have been passed to allow better prosecution of criminals which eventually saw Jyoti’s perpetrators being brought to justice. One of the most interesting facts was that Divya now reports things differently for the media. Rather than the sensational reporting of the high-profile crimes, the young people of India would rather hear more about the cases where a family supports a young person thorough the justice system so that conviction is secured.

 As ever the variety and depth of Programme work across the Federation is inspiring. I would like to send Congratulations to SI Bingley who were among the final 10 PA projects shortlisted for a Best Practice Award for which they were Highly Commended. 

I have to say that Conference was stimulating, motivating and enjoyable. Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate at the Yorkshire Party which was an uplifting end to the weekend (special thanks to Sue Butler, Chris Clark and Jane Glendinning for their organisational skills!)

I am looking forward to the RCM, the theme of which is Ourselves. The accompanying President’s Lunch I hope will be an opportunity for members to chat informally to each other and the incoming team. I would like to welcome all the New Officers and thank them for the time and effort they give to their roles.

This year’s RCM is actually on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender based violence. Please wear orange (either subtly or not!) in support of this.

This year the Officers have decided to retain the same format for the reports for the RCMs. You will receive a separate report from the President and Treasurer but all other reports will be condensed into one document. At the recent zoom meeting I had with President Ruth Healey and the other new Presidents, it was interesting to hear that several Regions have adopted this format with others intending to follow suit.

I am aware that financially times are hard and so I haven’t overburdened my Calendar but I hope that my Food and Wine Tasting experience on Yorkshire Day   1st August 2024 will be well supported as it will be a Charity Fundraiser. I have already received invitations form many Clubs to visit them but I would love to visit every club this year so please invite me to your club if you have yet to do so.

Please contact me if I can help or support you in the year ahead


Below is the wonderful paraphrase of a poem by Clementine Paddleford that Monty Halls recites to his two young daughters. 

For all young girls, this should be a mantra!

“Never be the princess when you can be the queen,

Swing the sceptre, wear the crown – dominate the scene,

Don’t wear crystal slippers that shatter on your feet,

Be happy in your own skin then you will be complete,

Be a barefoot amazon, be young, be wild, be free,

Never grow a wishbone daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

In conclusion, my year began as Conference drew to a close. As the finale entertainment singer Tashara Forrest belted out Tina Turner’s Simply the Best, I felt very emotional to be dancing in a room with simply the best of sisters -Soroptimists.

In Friendship