Women from across Befordshire celebrate 85 years of Soroptimist International

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The 85th anniversary of Soroptimist International (SI) of Bedford was celebrated in style in Bedfordshire.

Lunch, cake and a colour party of Bedfordshire Girl Guides and VIP guests from across the region added to the women’s group celebration.

SI works to improve the lives of women and children across the globe.

Three candles were lit to highlight the work carried out by Soroptimists - one to support anti-slavery day, a second for the work of the United Nations, where Soroptimists are actively involved in promoting the rights of women and children, and finally to all Soroptimists around the globe, who work to help young women fulfil their potential.

President of the SI Great Britain and Ireland Margaret Emsley was the guest of honour.

The lunch at Biddenham Pavilion was her last event in the UK of her term of office. Her next visit was overseas is to Cameroon, which demonstrates the global reach of the work undertaken by Soroptimists.

Pauline Stewart JP, President of SI Bedford presented Margaret with a Love Bedford calendar of photographs of the riverside and a paperweight depicting John Bunyan as a souvenir of the occasion.

“We are committed to creating a talent pool of future generations of Soroptimism, locally here in Bedford, nationally and internationally,” said Pauline,

“Soroptimist International is a worldwide organisation of women who use the skills and knowledge gained in their working lives to advance the status of women and girls. We have 80,000 members in 3,000 clubs, working in 132 countries and territories all over the over world.”

Locally SI Bedford has close links with Bedford College, it gives an annual £1,000 bursary in memory of the late Peggy Holgate to art or design students. It has worked with Bedfordshire Girl Guides to support girls struggling to stay in school in Sierra Leone and in danger of FGM.

Members attend international events including those at the United Nations in New York.

Pauline added: “Ours is an organisation which has included amongst its past members some of the most inspiring women from the county, who had influence at national and international levels.

“We want to pass that baton on to the next generation who are currently starting out on their lives and careers.”