Soroptimist ladies from across the island of Ireland, along with guests from Scotland and England, recently united in Athlone to celebrate the role of Athlone native, Darina Dolan, the National President of the friendship and service organisation.
The theme of the weekend event was ‘The Power of One’ with presentations from clubs around the country and from Northern Ireland. Presentations included ‘Women, Then and Now’ which focused on the power of women in the locality.
A BeePlus project aimed at primary school children was referenced over the event’s duration. The project focuses on the honey bee and how we need to protect them. It is a full kit for teachers use in classrooms.
The National Project is ‘Safe Home Safe Community’ and it focuses on domestic abuse. Soroptimists advocated for new legislation throughout the past two years, while the presentation on climate change requested those present to live “like our parents and grandparents”.
Margaret Broome from Music Generation showed a joyful and amazing video of the SingFest concert run by her music teachers.
Sheila Nunan, the first female General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers Organisation in 150 years was the guest speaker for the morning meeting. Sheila talked about the need to keep trying and keep applying for roles, stressing the confidence and self-belief which women need to succeed, noting their ability to network and support each other.
The Soroptimists celebrated with a gala dinner at The Shamrock Lodge Hotel at which guests included Senator Gabrielle McFadden.
Keynote speaker at the gala dinner was Athlone native, Dr. Renata Dwan, Director of Disarmaments at the United Nations, who was present with her parents Liam and Anne Dwan. Dr. Renata Dwan spoke about her work in managing and understanding conflict around the world, her experience including working in Haiti and Afghanistan.
On the Sunday morning the ladies from The Acapella Singers, under the direction of Mrs. Hilary Roche, led the singing for an ecumenical service to celebrate the work of Soroptimists.
Reverend Trevor Sullivan and Deacon Tony Larkin offered spiritual guidance for the service. The weekend finished on a very positive note and the visitors to Athlone went home with fond memories and renewed inspiration to continue the Soroptimist work, empowering and enabling women and girls.