President’s Message May 2021

Dear Ladies

The sunshine is streaming through my windows and the pastel coloured beach huts are being lowered onto the beach ready for the Summer. On Monday evening April 26th the super moon turned the sky pink, it’s the most impressive moon of  2021. If you missed it, the second of two super moons this year will appear on May 26th. 

The reason I mention this is to highlight the rapid acceleration of global warming we are witnessing. Just looking up at the sky at night reminds us we are mere guests on this planet. It’s up to each of us to play a part in repairing the damage we have caused. To engage in this in a meaningful way and to feel inspired about what we can achieve, there is helpful advice from Julia Hailes MBE, ‘The Environmental Pioneer’ who was our guest this month at our Zoom event Women for the Environment. Speaking on ‘My Green Life’, and in aid of Operation Future Hope, founded by Lesley Malpas, Julia spoke with wisdom and shared her dedication to finding workable solutions to slow down and eventually reverse our destruction. We were treated to practical, tried and tested ways to contribute to making a difference. This is one of the best programmes I have seen on both the destruction caused and how individually we can help slow the damage and save our environment. To read more about Julia, click here. For more information on Operation Future Hope, click here.  

The Ukrainian Cultural Association-UK presented ‘Spiritual Music in Memory of Chernobyl’s Victims of 26th April 1986’. President Alla Sirenko, FISM presented this very moving concert on Zoom. The programme featured traditional sacred Ukrainian music from the 15th century up to the present day. We heard the Ukrainian male ensemble, Kalophonia, along with the beautiful, harmonic choir and music from Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia. We were reminded of some heart rending facts about the Chernobyl disaster. Money raised went directly to help victims of the Chernobyl disaster with their ongoing medical treatments. Our ticket included an after concert drinks reception to talk and reflect on the performance and stories heard. This was a lovely gathering, full of shared memories and the fostering of friendships. The UCA Easter Celebration presented traditions in dance, and we were treated to song and craft from the Carpathian Mountains. Central to this entertainment was the very elegant traditional painting of Easter eggs, and dancing in the square which was elaborately decorated with giant Easter eggs. 

London Blue Plaques celebrate women (who were until recently vastly out numbered by 14% of the 950+ membership). English Heritage increased the number of Blue Plaques for women in 2020 and announced that in 2021 they are shortlisting more women than men. Here are some of the names from London 2020 and 2021: 

Christine Granville (1908-1952): Born Krystyna Skarbek, Granville was one of the most remarkable secret agents of the Second World War and was the first woman to work as a Special Operations Executive agent – two years before they officially recruited women. Kensington.

Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944): Renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, Khan was Britain’s first Muslim war heroine and the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France. Bloomsbury

Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan (1879-1967) is as much admired for her work during the First World War as one of the leading figures in the first women’s corps in the British military, as she is for her academic work as a botanist. Bloomsbury

Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975): One of the 20th century’s greatest artists, Hepworth was a ground-breaking sculptor. Her works are held in the collections of major institutions worldwide, including Tate and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. North London

National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (formed in 1897): The NUWSS was the largest of any women’s suffrage campaigning organisation. At its peak in 1913, it had nearly 500 affiliates and its total membership reached 50,000. The blue plaque will mark their headquarters in Westminster during the crucial eight years leading up to the Representation of the People Act 1918 – the legislation that gave some women the vote.Westminster.

You may not be surprised to hear that English Heritage’s Curatorial Director is a female, Anna Eavis. 

I wish you a safe and enjoyable Bank Holiday

Warm Regards, 

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips

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