Derby Soroptimist International 80th anniversary Charter Dinner

Elizabeth Hurfurt, Derby SI President with the Mayor of Derby, Cllr John Whitby and his wife Juliette

Elizabeth Hurfurt, Derby SI President with the Mayor of Derby, Cllr John Whitby and his wife Juliette - Credit: Ashley Franklin

Soroptimist International (SI) of Derby has celebrated 80 years with a Charter Dinner at Hallmark Hotel Derby Midland.

Soroptimists – translated as ‘the best of sisters’ – include business and professional women who come together ‘to educate, empower and enable women and girls at home and throughout the world to fulfil their potential.’ SI has United Nations recognition for its campaigning to stop violence against women, ban land mines, raise awareness of trafficking and modern slavery, improve maternal healthcare and provide clean, safe drinking water. The Derby group is one of 3,000 clubs around the world and over the years has been acclaimed for its work at Derby Women’s Centre where members have run a sewing group, led walks and delivered sessions on confidence and employability skills. They have also been involved with the women’s refuge Derbyshire WISH, supported refugees, enjoyed a partnership with the University of Derby Department of Youth and Community Studies – developing work on body image and self-esteem – and have successfully completed a project at a children’s centre in Ethiopia where funds were raised for three young women who received vocational training and gained employment.

Derby SI’s Immediate Past President Marion Merkens has been a member for 37 years. ‘I joined because I wanted to give something back to the community,’ Marion explains. ‘I have learnt so much about the experiences of women and girls in this country and around the world, and our vision and mission means the work we do helps them transform their lives. A great bonus is the friendships I have made with fellow members.’

Derby SI’s current President Elizabeth Hurfurt says that being a member is very rewarding: ‘There is great satisfaction in knowing that in a variety of ways we can support women in need in less favourable circumstances than we are. We also have the ear of some important and influential organisations. For example, we are invited to send a delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Speaking personally, Soroptimism has given me support and friendship in difficult times.’

If anyone is interested in joining Derby SI, they meet at 7pm on the first Thursday of each month at The Sleep Inn, behind The King’s Highway in Derby.