Bolton Soroptimists celebrate 75 years of helping women
A GROUP of Bolton women are celebrating the 75th anniversary of an organisation which has made a difference to the lives of women locally and internationally.
Soroptimist International of Bolton was founded in 1938 when the storm clouds of war were gathering over Europe.
These were like-minded women who wanted to create a better world for females everywhere, and in 2013 their intentions and actions are proving just as determined and effective.
The name comes from the Latin “soror” meaning sister or woman and “optima” meaning best, so “The Best For Women” or possibly “The Best of Sisters” is both the name and ethos of what is now the world’s largest women’s service organisation.
The Bolton members are among thousands of Soroptimists of all ages and backgrounds in scores of countries. The movement started in America in 1921 and came to London two years later, with the Manchester club starting in 1926. A quick glance through the local group’s photographs of events and fundraising over the years reveals an impressive mix of support for international projects in some of the world’s poorest countries and practical campaigns of help much closer to home.
Soroptimists are all about education, empowerment and enabling opportunities for women and this ‘making a difference’ has been the enduring theme for members.
They meet each first and third Tuesday in the month at 7.30pm at the Friends’ Meeting House in Silverwell Street in Bolton town centre, with a speaker the focal point of the first meeting. It was one of these speakers who sparked this special year’s fundraising work for current president Cynthia Schofield when a representative of the Street Angels — who look after late-night town centre revellers — spoke.
So the Bolton members are now hoping to raise money to fund the cafe the Angels run, which costs £50 a night to keep open.
As a result, they are running regular coffee mornings, which in four months has raised £350 for Street Angels. At the same time, the group is also fundraising to support the education of five children in Kathmandu, emphasising once more the group’s international responsibilities.
Over the years in other countries, the local members have supported clnics for women in Peru, sunk wells in Senegal to provide water for villages, partnered with the Red Cross to provide prostheses for landmine victims in Afghanistan, Angola and Georgia, and helped war survivors in places like Bosnia and Rwanda.
Closer to home, they have raised money for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, supported Bolton Urban Outreach and Barnardos Young Carers, Bolton Mountain Rescue, the Fortalice refuge, Paws for Kids and the North West Air Ambulance among many, and have ongoing support for a variety of community organisations.
They have also been involved in Bolton’s volunteer awareness, charity walks, organising a stand at the Food and Drink Festival and the Last Drop Summer Fair, litter-picking on Moss Bank Way and planting trees and re-stocking the rose garden in Moss Bank Park.
One of their members even took part in a parachute jump to boost funds for the Air Ambulance. For the women involved, however, as well as wanting to give something back, Soroptimists also provides a social meeting place with other women. For secretary Jean Mort, it offers “friendship and a sense of fulfillment”.
For committee member Sue Whitter it’s an opportunity to find out more about Bolton “and to become involved in helping other people here” and for Mrs Schofield, the president, it’s a chance to work in something different from her local church “and everyone is so friendly.”
Bolton Soroptimists are organising a charter dinner for October and continue their busy event programme throughout the year, but in the meantime they are always happy to hear from local women interested in joining them.
To find out more email Jean Mort on firstname.lastname@example.org
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