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Hilary Rowberry incoming President at our 2019 AGM with Sue Edgar - President Elect and Alison Tarada - Vice-President.
The focus for our year 2019-20 is the Wellbeing of People and our Planet.
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School writing competition

The South East England region of Soroptimist International recently ran the Jacque Emery writing competition. Jacque was a Past Regional President who sadly died in 2014 and who had also been a Senior Examiner at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art).

Local school girls Lily and Elodie aged 10 from St. Mary the Virgin School Hartfield school were the winners in East Grinstead and Lily went on to be a regional finalist.

The competition was open to Year 6 girls and boys and aims to encourage and inspire young people to take an interest in writing and communication. They were asked to answer the question
Are men and women equal. We were pleased to welcome Elodie to our meeting to read her winning writing. President Hilary presented her with a certificate, a W H Smith's voucher and a bouquet of flowers in recognition of her success.
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This year the Club has engaged in a number of activities to celebrate International Women's Day. An exhibition was mounted at the local library highlighting the work of the Club. The displays recorded the Club's recent Battle for the Ballot Box event, a subsequent awards evening for three Inspirational Women and also included a map showing our Friendship Links around the world. Lingfield College held a series of presentations for students in the week leading up to International Women's Day and the Club was invited to take part, the talk being billed in the College's programme as follows:
Wednesday 12:40 Sue Edgar from Soroptimist International of East Grinstead. Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement with a network of over 75,000 club members in 122 countries. Advocating for human rights and gender equality, at the heart of Soroptimist International's advocacy is its work across six UN Centres, where our UN representatives ensure that the voices of women and girls are heard. Good for those interested in gender issues and politics.
Both these initiatives provided excellent publicity for Soroptimism and East Grinstead Club raising awareness amongst people of all ages.
On Friday 8 March a dinner for members and guests was held at a local Golf Club in the presence of the Mayor with the main speaker being a female Chelsea Pensioner. This lady gave us a fascinating insight into life at the Royal Hospital Chelsea from the viewpoint of one of the few lady residents. All in all these were a fascinating and rewarding few weeks.

Inspirational Women Awards
On December 5th we held our Inspirational Women awards evening with a celebratory Club meeting at East Court. After introductions Sarah Fanner read out Hilary Clinton's speech at the United Nations 4th World Conference on women's rights. The speech celebrated the contributions women make in every aspect of human life: in the home, in the workplace, in the community, as citizens, leaders, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and learners.
The award recipients were Karen Dobres (Lewes Football Club), Jess Love (BBC Surrey and Sussex), and Mandy Dyer (East Grinstead and District Mental Health Association). They are all wonderful examples of women who have gone over and above in their support for community groups. All of them have made a selfless contribution and a significant difference. They have been an inspiration and are positive role models to others.
In recognition of the United Nations 16 days of activism against gender based violence and the Orange the World campaign club members all wore an item of orange for the evening. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
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Battle for the Ballot Box
To celebrate the centenary of some women getting the vote we recently held an event at the Meridian Hall in East Grinstead. The evening consisted of a talk by Frances Stenlake about the East Grinstead Suffrage Society and the Great Pilgrimage of 1913. Karen Dobres focused on equality of pay and opportunity in women's football at Lewes FC which is the first club in the world to pay its male and female teams the same wage. Sara Fanner performed two monologues - a comedy of reversed sex roles written in 1911, and an extract from Emmeline Pankhurst's Freedom or Death speech. There was also an art exhibition by the local all-female art group, Example, and a singing group performed two powerful suffrage anthems, The Pankhurst Anthem and March of the Women.
The event was supported by the Women's Vote Centenary Grant Scheme following our successful application for a grant.

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Supporting Local Charities
At our recent AGM we were pleased to be able to present cheques to the Peanut Ward at the Queen Victoria Hospital and to the Pericles project. The donation to the Peanut Ward is to support their CREW project. CREW stands for a Challenging Recreational Experience Weekend. It was set up 11 years ago to offer children attending Peanut Ward with burns and plastic surgery injuries a chance to spend a weekend with others who have gone through similar experiences. It offers a positive rehabilitation weekend with an emphasis on having fun!
Based in West Hoathly and Sharpthorne, Pericles is a pioneering and original training and work project for young people and adults with special learning needs and / or mental health problems. The project offers practical and artistic activities within small groups, complemented by specialist therapeutic activities.
The donations we made were as a result of our fundraising activities during the year including our Curry Evening, Summer Garden Party and Race Night.