Reportedly, the name “Soroptimist” was coined by combining the Latin words soror “sister” and optima “best”, and can be taken to mean “best for women”.
The Harrogate and district branch of Soroptomists International has taken the definition to heart ever since the local group first received its charter in 1933 as part of a global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls.
The early years saw the Harrogate Soroptomists responding to the emergencies created by the Second World War, assisting refugees based at Fountains Abbey, knitting for merchant seamen and assisting the Hull Young Women’s Christian Association after its building was destroyed by bombs.
One local charity that it is currently particularly close to is The Harrogate Refuge.
Harrogate president Pat Shore said: “The refuge is a local charity we’ve supported for many years but, in the last three years, we have increased our input.
“Violence against women in this country is a fact, with women dying in the UK every day at the hand of a husband/partner or former partner.
“Our aim is to educate, empower and enable women and children and The Harrogate Refuge ticks all those boxes.
“It’s a wonderful organisation and an essential resource for women and children escaping conflict and abuse.”
Harrogate Soroptomists have raised more than £5,000 in the last 18 months which has enabled them to support the work of The Harrogate Refuge in the following ways:
Providing new starter packs for women and families when they leave the Refuge such as bedding, small kitchen utensils and small electrical equipment.
Re-Decorating the Arts and Craft room and providing new curtains, a table, benches and storage units.
Decorating three clients’ rooms.
Substantial repair of the children’s outdoor playground in a joint venture with Harrogate Spa Lodge Freemasons, North Yorkshire County Council and the Refuge.
Harrogate Soroptomists are also taking part in this year's Harrogate Autumn Flower Show shortly with their own show garden.
The ‘Meru Garden for Life’ will recreate a small patch of Kenya where SI is helping malnourished women learnt how how to develop their gardens around their houses so they can better feed their families and produce additional fruit and vegetables to provide an income.
Harrogate Soroptimists meet fortnightly at the White Hart Hotel, their fundraising activities include tapas evenings, Greek lunches, afternoon teas and refreshment days at local churches.
Harrogate Autumn Flower Show which runs at the Great Yorkshire Showground from September 16-18.
For more information, visit at www.sigbi.org/harrogate