Women have the right ingredients for putting the fun into raising money for Gwent hospice

GWENT fundraisers are still going strong more than forty years after first raising money to support a local hospice as it found its feet by publishing a cook book.

Sallie Slade and Paddy Landers are founder members of what was initially called the Cwmbran Support Group of St David’s Foundation.

Now the pair, along with some 25 other women, continue to raise funds for Newport-based St David’s Hospice Care and are also part of Soroptimist International Cwmbran & District (SI).

Joint presidents this year Paddy and Sallie joined the Soroptimists some twenty years ago after initially attending Soroptimist meetings for St David’s Hospice Care cheque presentation events.

Soroptimist International Cwmbran and District was chartered in March 1980 . Dr Edith Price was one of the founder members  and is still an active member to this day. She was club president during the 40th anniversary year.

Sallie Slade said: “When my late mother passed away in 1977 there was nothing like St David’s Hospice Care. The hospice started two years later, in 1979 and I have been involved in helping the raise funds, along with many other members of the Cwmbran support group, ever since.

“S. I. Cwmbran & District have organised a whole host of events over that time which have been a lot of fun and have involved many, many people. We have raised some £25,000 for the hospice in those years.

“We have raised probably double that for many other charities which we have supported Including  Medaille Trust , Mary’s Meals,  Guide dogs for the Blind,  St Anne’s Hospice, Sight Cymru , Alzheimer’s,  to name just a few.

“For at least  25  years the main fundraising event each year for St David’s Hospice Care has been a Strawberry and Fizz lunch held at the Glenyravon Hotel, in Usk . Owners, Mr and Mrs Clark, were very supportive because the money being raised was for St David’s Hospice Care which they supported. In the early  days people used to take garden chairs with them and sit outside .

“One year, when the weather was very inclement, people sat on the stairs  and they opened up the bedrooms for people to sit in. We even had twenty people in the bridal suite. I believe it added to the enjoyment certainly  people still remember it  many years later! A marquee was then used for weddings and our events were held there before the extension to the hotel was built.

“These events are always very popular and raised a great deal of money. We also participated regularly in the sponsored walk over the first Severn bridge.

” One of the early and very successful fundraisers was for the hospice was the production of a recipe book. Called, Our Favourite Food Fare, the 48 page book was packed with all sorts of recipes with two to three on each page. It sold like … well, hot cakes. I still have a copy which I bought before I became a Soroptimist.

“St David’s Hospice Care is an ongoing charity that S. I. Cwmbran and District members have supported for forty years.

“We are the local club of Soroptimist International. We’re part of Wales South Region which altogether has 13 clubs. We are the only one in the whole of Gwent.”

The group, which currently has a membership of 27 women, meets on the second Monday of the month at Greenmeadow Golf Club, Cwmbran, at 7pm. The majority of the meetings take the form of a short business meeting followed by an interesting speaker ending with light refreshments and a chance to socialise.

Sallie said: “Fun is the first three letters of fundraising so we try to only do those sort of events which involve fun! One of the most popular things that we stage are musical events. In fact we booked Only Men Aloud before they became really famous and won the Last Choir Standing.

“We also have fashion shows, lunches, afternoon teas, arrange trips, have sales of pre-loved items and jewelry, that sort of thing.

“As Soroptimists we  undertake projects and raise awareness of current social issues that affect women and girls. We have run public meetings and attended events on diverse issues such  as modern day slavery/trafficking; gender-based violence; teenage girls and alcohol; fish and chip babies in liaison with Life for African Mothers and have been involved in lobbying on a number of relevant subjects.

“The group has also been involved in initiatives and projects such as the provision of Comfort Teddies for  emergency services, hospitals, schools with some 1,600 given out to date.”

“The group supports STEM. The group have  given copies of the book Women in Science 50 Fearless pioneers who changed the world  by Rachel  Ignotofsky to 75 Primary  schools in Gwent.

They support dementia charities by raising money and volunteering with more than £7000 raised to date and have been instrumental in setting up  and continuing to run ArtRegen in Pontypool. Like lots of Soroptimist clubs S.I. Cwmbran has  always supported local Women’s Aid groups.

“Members have supported a girl through Plan International since 1986.  The girl the group are supporting at the moment is in  Indonesia. Who we support changes when the girl attains 18 or Plan International  leave an area.

“Since the new  Grange University  hospital opened  we have established a relationship to support them, and have provided them with Comfort Teddies and baby clothes.”

Founded in 1921, Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement with a network of around 66,000 club members in 120 countries. Advocating for human rights and gender equality, at the heart of Soroptimist International’s advocacy is its work across seven UN Centres, where UN representatives ensure that the voices of women and girls are heard.

The membership works on grassroots projects that help women and girls achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in communities worldwide.

Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) has 6000 Members in 270 Clubs in 18 countries including Great Britain, Ireland and countries in Asia, the Caribbean and Malta, who work at a local, national and international level to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls,

Why join? Sallie says women should join the group as they can join other women who want to make a difference while having fun and making friends. Contact us via www.sigbi.org/cwmbran   or visit the group’s Facebook page and then come and meet us  and sample some of our events and meetings.

A couple of planned fundraisers are an evening of musical entertainment with Harmonize on Friday, October  13 at Ponthir Village Hall and a Sunday lunch in March 2024 at Greenmeadow Golf Club Cwmbran.

Kris Broome, of St David’s Hospice Care, said: “The work that the Cwmbran Group and the Soroptimists do in partnership to aid the hospice is simply magnificent. Only recently they handed over a cheque for a further £1,500.

“The money raised by the group, the events they have staged and the awareness that this has created over the very many years that they have been operating, is priceless.

“We are enormously grateful for all that they have done and that they continue to do to support the hospice in the work that we do throughout the community of Gwent and south east Wales, including south Powys.”