President’s Message January 2021

Dear Ladies

I hope you found rewarding ways of celebrating Christmas.

This year has been a challenge on many levels and just as we thought we were ready to do battle with vaccinations, we learnt that there is a new Coronavirus variant that is more invasive. Its rapid spread has pushed many of us into Tier 4 socialising rules, placing harsh restrictions on being with family and friends over the holiday. However those who organised a Zoom Christmas family party may have shared their celebration opening presents and pulling crackers with cringeworthy jokes, to provide a little bizarre entertainment as an antidote to reality. 

We were treated to some excellent Christmas music when on December 15th we had the pleasure of listening to the Ukrainian Cultural Association (UCA-UK) founded by internationally renowned composer and pianist, Alla Sirenko in 2020. Highlights from the programme included a mix of traditional carols in English and Ukrainian from the harmonious Ukrainian Vocal Quartet Vivo who sang Czardasz a composition by Italian composer Vittorio Monti. It’s a well-known uplifting folkloric piece based on traditional Hungarian folk dance. Alla, on piano, accompanied violinist Orpheus Leander with a moving rendition of Ave Maria followed by Alla’s own composition, Elegant Waltz. Alla played her poignant solo piece, Winter dreams which she dedicated to the Ukrainian children, who lost their fathers in a war in Eastern Ukraine. The concert was in aid of British Ukrainian Aid – for orphaned children. I thank all of you who donated to this worthy cause at a time when there are many calls on our purse. There will be a recording available and those of you who would still like to make a contribution to aid the orphans will find details on our website.

A very interesting event is being organised by the Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club (KCWC) to meet Lebanese journalist Dr. Zahera Harb who distinguished herself as a war correspondent and is now professor at City University, London. Dr. Harb will discuss the challenges facing Lebanon subsequent to the recent explosion and the role international journalism can play in accurate information about Middle East strife. Make a note of 14thJanuary 10:30 – 12:00 noon on Zoom. Booking instructions are on our website. I will be reserving a place and look forward to seeing you.

I have an appointment for an x-ray (an old fracture) and my thoughts turned to the invaluable research carried out by Marie Curie which still has huge significance today and from which I am going to benefit. Curie was one of the most famous scientists of her time.  She was born in Warsaw November 1867. She went to Paris to study physics and mathematics at the Sorbonne where she met Pierre Curie, professor of the School of Physics. They were married in 1895. They worked together on radioactivity and within eight years they announced the discovery of polonium. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903. Three years later tragedy struck.   

Pierre was knocked down by a horse drawn carriage and suffered severe injuries from which he died. Marie continued the work taking over her husband’s teaching post becoming the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. She received a second Nobel Prize, for Chemistry, in 1911. The research was significant in the development of x-rays. During WW1 Curie helped to equip ambulances with x-ray equipment which she also drove to the front lines. She was appointed head of the radiological service by the International Red Cross. She died on 4 July 1934 from leukaemia, caused by exposure to high-energy radiation from her research. Due to the level of radioactivity, her body was buried in a lead lined coffin. The Curies’ eldest daughter Irene was herself a scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Her second daughter Eve Denise was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with Unicef. They are the only family to receive four Noble Prizes.

For those of you who are able to attend the KCWC event on 14th January I will be reserving a place and look forward to seeing you. 

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. 

Warm regards,

Siobhan 

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President president@fiwal.org.uk

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