President’s Message March 2021


Dear Ladies,

Spring is here and there are signs of tiny bright green leaves appearing on my geraniums and the lavender is making every effort to be noticed. 

The extended daylight has a positive effect on our mood and this is just as well as we need to remain patient and cautious as we approach our renewed freedom to socialise. Socialising is such an important factor in our lives: it’s a defining feature of being human and many people, of all ages, are badly affected when it is severely restricted. We are fortunate to be members of a group which offers us a sense of belonging when we join together to attend interesting and entertaining events and exchange pictures, messages and ideas with our supportive chat lines. 

International Women’s Day is fast approaching, a landmark in our calendar and an important celebration of the acquiring of various women’s rights.

From powerful women such as Helen of Troy and Boudica, fast forward to the Suffragettes, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in October 1803. The Suffragettes fought hard for these rights.  It was the dawn of the slow rise of women to today’s top appointments with major influencing roles. There are 21 countries with women as heads of state (out of approximately 194) and 5% of FTSE 100 have a woman as CEO. It’s a start.  

But women are still grossly under represented at all levels of decision making world wide. I dip into a website ‘UN Women’ from time to time to follow progress: https://www.unwomen.org  The organisation has a list of aims year by year from 2020 – 2024. For example: 2021 (extract) – Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Under review is women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development. 

It’s just about a year since lockdown became a part of life and all of us had to alter our plans and learn to communicate much more on line and in particular via  Zoom. Zoom has served us well, facilitating a myriad of events from FIWAL and our member clubs. Two very recent events show how far we have come in providing a wide range of topics attracting increasing numbers of followers.

FIWAL recently hosted Women in Power, the Art of Power Dressing, in aid of the charity Dress for Success. Presented by Meridith Towne, an historic dressmaker and serious collector of original costume. Her lively talk was a tour de force of the history and the art of power dressing.  Meridith took us thorough a fascinating history of women who expressed their power through ‘costume’ including Queen Elizabeth 1st (who reigned for 45yrs), with her elaborate costumes of delicate lace and pearls and precious jewels and furs. We also saw a portrait of the empress of China, who reigned for 50yrs, elaborately clad in magnificent silk and pearls and very intricate headdresses. Both of these royal ladies, through their intelligence and sound strategies brought a great deal of prosperity to their respective nations.   

Fionnuala Shannon, Executive Director of Dress for Success Greater London, one of the 150 branches world wide, gave us an overview of the aims and successes of the charity. Through support and advice women can be prepared and dressed for interviews that will positively change their lives. The registered charity empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. This has a liberating effect for women to become economically viable, to support their children and be role models for others. Suitable clothes can be donated, so please visit the website for more details of this very worthy cause which has long term beneficial effects for women world wide. www.dressforsuccess.org 

The Ukrainian Cultural Association (UCA-UK) lives up to its name with a schedule of events on music, poetry and Ukrainian cuisine. Alla Sirenko, an accomplished pianist and composer, presented a wonderful concert on Saturday evening, with an eclectic programme of highlights from the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme featured talented young musicians, some who started performing at the age of 6yrs such as the Oboe player Stepan Syvokhip, 15 years old, also the brilliant 15yr old virtuoso pianist Khrystuna Mihailichenko, both are now commanding large audiences. Money was raised for the Ukrainian orphaned children. 

Like you, I look forward to leaving the winter behind and moving closer to seeing the people I miss most; close family and long term friends. It is frustrating that we must make those moves so slowly but the science dictates it is essential in order to avoid another spike in cases of the virus and it’s variants.  I wish you all patience, courage and joyful reunions.

Warm Regards, 


 

Siobhan

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

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President’s Message February 2021

Dear Ladies,

As I write this in late January, it’s snowing in London and heavy coverage is expected. Whilst it all looks like a picture postcard of winter wonderland, it is not good news for the many who are out of work, home schooling, or have vulnerable people to care for. Let’s hope that some people will be able to take a light hearted opportunity to take a small step back to childhood and make a snowman. 

The Covid Virus (C-19), which we thought we were on route to defeat, has mutated.  Therefore, whatever timescale we were planning to once again socialise and to reverse working from home, socialising is now pushed further away. I see that Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister of NZ has closed it’s borders until 2022. She has already been very successful in controlling the spread of C-19. Having closed the borders in mid-March she has said they would not open again until New Zealanders were “vaccinated and protected”. A brave and purposeful plan. 

Increased transmission of the novel variant will be a challenge to keep up with. We already have ‘silent carriers’ who test negative and have no C-19 symptoms. You can understand why inconvenient lockdown matters, the alternative could be much worse. 

We have always been at war with diseases and more often than not we win, but some such as Malaria, Hepatitis, Ebola and HIV/AIDS and Influenza bring a heavy cost to human life. Those of us in the UK are fortunate as through the NHS we have the means to vaccinate for childhood illnesses from the age of 8 weeks with top up’s at various stages up to and through university to the age of 25. This ‘herd immunity’ is our main strength in survival against our microscopic hosts. We are fortunate to have dedicated scientists continuing the battle towards positive solutions. C-19 has provoked us and challenged us, but as with other viruses, C-19, as a pandemic, it will come to an end and if it crosses our borders again we will be prepared. 

It is with regret that due to C-19, the Australian Women’s Club had to cancel their acclaimed International Women’s Day event. However, they have much to celebrate. On 29th January the ancient Aboriginal site of Wurdi Youang was discovered in Little River, between Melbourne and Geelong. In essence it is a giant solar arrangement made of basalt stones, a 50m ring marking the annual solstices and equinoxes. It may be the world’s oldest astronomical observatory and could date from the Palaeolithic age making it older than Stonehenge. 

It was good to see so many clubs represented at our January board meeting. One of the outcomes of the meeting is that we have a new initiative. This is to ‘flag up’ a paragraph about each club, to draw readers to your website. Up to three clubs will be featured each month. Clubs who would like to take part will be selected on a first come first served basis. 

On Tuesday 23rd February 1:00-2:30 we can look forward to The Art of Power Dressing: by Meridith Towne, a Costume Historian and Dressmaker. Meridith creates costumes for museums, Opera, weddings and parties. The poster has already been sent out and I suggest you read her very interesting ‘About Me’ section to see how a young lady who started out by studying Archaeology at university became passionate about women’s history as told through fashion. I very much look forward to seeing you at what promises to be an interesting and very entertaining event  and if you are “Zoomed out” I recommend the perfect solution, see below.

I have some very good news about two of our executive committee members.

Ameeta, our very efficient Hon. Secretary has very quietly, behind the scenes, managed to create a superb collection of luxury candles ‘AVES’. The photo shoot has taken place and this beautiful product is to be featured in both The WORLD of Interiors and Good Housekeeping. The very attractive website displays 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free enticing aromas; I love the idea of “Zoomed Out” My order has been placed and Birthday presents solved. https://avescandles.co.uk . Very well done Ameeta!    

Book Publication: The Vegan Iraqi Cookbook by Dr. Lamees Ibrahim. From her early days as a scientist, Lamees was mentioned in ‘Who’s Who in the world’ for her contributions to the advancement of medical sciences. Then, she turned her talent to cuisine. Her latest book, The Vegan Iraqi Cookbook, is the first of its kind to be published in the world. The easy-to-follow recipes are adorned with sumptuous specially commissioned photography throughout. It is full of authentic recipes that have been handed down through the generations, developed and enriched over time, and infused with cultures of different eras. This beautifully produced book is also a narrative of a rich fusion of history, health, culture and storytelling. Publication release day: Tuesday 2nd February 2021. (theiraqicookbook.com). Many congratulations Lamees!

Finally, I have a message and a quote from Jocelyn. 

Last year is worth forgetting, this year is worth looking forward to!

Wishing you all a very happy February!

Warm Regards
 
Siobhan 

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

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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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President’s Message December 2020

Dear Ladies,

As we approach one of the highlights of the year, Christmas, we are all transcribing the new instructions on how we will be allowed to get together and celebrate with close family and friends. My family, scattered across the world, have become familiar with Zoom lunches, usually on a Sunday but not always at lunchtime due to time differences. We share the menu and recipes in advance and therefore we have, more or less, the same meal. Keeping in touch in this way has allowed a certain relaxation over planning our Christmas celebrations.  We are used to meeting online and in no other way.  And we have all agreed that the main issue this year, i.e. the most serious consideration, is to stay safe so as to protect each other.  

One of the highlights of our November events was MOZART 250 – “The journey of a lifetime”, a talk, with musical illustration, by Ian Page, renowned conductor and artistic director of The Mozartists. In 2015 The Mozartists launched MOZART 250, a ground-breaking 27-year project exploring the chronological trajectory of Mozart’s life, works and influences. Described by The Observer as “among the most audacious classical music scheduling ever”, this flagship project presents 250th anniversary performances of most of Mozart’s important works, placing them in context alongside other significant works by Mozart’s contemporaries”. 

In his talk Ian Page described the concept, inception, philosophies and discoveries inherent in this ambitious 27-year exploration of the life, music and influences of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Ian is a fund of information on the life and the music of Mozart. He is joy to listen to with his relaxed style and entertaining anecdotes. We learnt that Mozart was the 7th child born to his family, and only one other child survived, his beloved sister called ‘Nanneril’ 5yrs his senior. She was a gifted harpsichord player and had a beautiful voice. Mozart was 8yrs old when he and his sister were accompanied by their father.  They lived in Chelsea at 180 Ebury Street, then considered to be part of a village, which was countryside at that time. In an amusing anecdote Ian described how 8yr old would have music lessons from his father and as soon as done would run off to play on the rocking horse. Enjoy watching this illustrated talk with music: https://youtu.be/h9ZQWkszvfc

Each month due to the absence of live events I have written about interesting people who have had an important impact on our lives. Lockdown has allowed me the luxury of researching for the ‘intrepid’ among them and on this occasion I have kept the full name a secret until the end. In celebration of Thanksgiving I have chosen an American lady and I start with her grandparents.

Kit, as her grandmother was called by family members was born in New York 1878. Kit had a grim start. Her father, a businessman, committed suicide in 1892 and within two years her mother died of cancer. She was sent to live with relatives. She attended university and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history in 1899 and a master’s degree in chemistry and physics in 1900. She attended many lectures on women’s rights and was especially interested in the woman suffrage movement where she held a prominent position. She became a teacher in Baltimore where she met Dr. TNH. They married in 1904. They had six children. The second of whom, was to become famous. Lets call her Katey.

Katey was born in 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut to this suffragist and a doctor who both always encouraged her to speak her mind.  She was largely schooled at home but did attend Bryn Mawr College Pennsylvania, where she decided to study drama, appearing in many of their productions.

After graduating, she began getting small roles in plays on Broadway and elsewhere. She always attracted attention. She made five films between 1932 and 1934 and won her first Academy Award. Her fourth, Little Women (1933) was the most successful picture of its day. However she had a rocky time for being ‘haughty’ for wearing trousers and no make up and received bad press leading to her low audiences and many box office failures. Then she made “The Philadelphia Story” (1938), and was rewarded with a smash hit. She quickly bought the film rights, and negotiated her way back to Hollywood on her own terms, including her choice of director and co-stars where she excelled with twelve Oscar nominations. If you haven’t already guessed her name, the big give away is her longstanding love affair with Spencer Tracy. She was Katharine Hepburn, the greatest female star of Classic Hollywood Cinema. She became known throughout the world as a formidable onscreen presence with a fierce intelligence unique among actresses of her stature. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her the top American screen legend of all time. She died age 96.

It is my great pleasure to pass on the news that Welcome to London International Women’s Club (WCI)  has been recognised as NGO of the United Nations. This is a huge honour and in keeping with the wonderful work they do world wide. WCI is committed to share friendship, understanding, and education and to promote international humanitarian causes. Congratulations to President Kim Riedel and Ambassador at Large Dee Phillips Medawar and all of you at WCI working so hard to make the world a better place for women. FIWAL is proud to have WCI as a member and salute them for their great achievement.

Congratulations also goes to The American Women’s Club London whose President, Whitney Edwards  was interviewed on BBC World News on how they had celebrated Thanksgiving this year and how Lockdown has impacted their activities. Whitney gave a ‘spirited’  reply on how their social gathering at events have taken place on Zoom with Happy Hour, a Cocktail Competition, and a Pub Quiz coming soon. I soon realised that there’s an awful lot of drinking going on here and I’m thinking of applying for American Citizenship asap to secure membership! Their flagship fundraising event 2020 was held online and with typical American generosity they managed to raise £7,000 for their soup kitchen which is organised through the American International Church (AIC). Apart from offering a resource for the homeless, the elderly, the lonely and the poor, I was touched to hear from our Hon. Treasurer Sylvia Wallach, who hails from the USA, that AIC also provide further support, including daily hot meals for vulnerable children whose mother is in hospital. A poignant message at this time of year. Brilliant work and well done Whitney. Watch: https://fb.watch/21EEqvEwOe/ 

A Christmas treat is on the way from The Ukrainian Cultural Association (UCA-UK)  our newest member of FIWAL. President Alla Sirenko will present A Charity Gala Christmas Concert. The choice of Christmas music is exciting with a mix of popular carols and classical music, a violinist and a vocal Ukrainian quartet. Please see our Events page and make your booking as soon as possible as this event will be very popular.  

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the events on offer this month on the lead up to Christmas. 

It has been a very tough year for many and I do hope that by spring 2021 we will have a successful vaccine and more freedom to meet again to share ‘real’ time with our friends, and family. 

I thank all my colleagues for their intrepid work and commitment and support over the last year. 

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.

Warm regards,
Siobhan 

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

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President’s Message November 2020

Dear Ladies

October has been unforgiving recently with gale force winds and a sudden drop in temperature accompanied by an early introduction to the winter months ahead. As if this wasn’t enough to contend with, the death toll of the Corona virus has passed one million. It is a shock and a huge disappointment to be entering a more severe Lockdown than already experienced. However most of us don’t have an option. The disruption in our lives, in education, in work and day to day activities touches people in many different ways. Our children and grandchildren will remember this ‘episode’ in their lives as an extraordinary time when astronauts can get to the International Space Station (ISS) in 3.5hrs and to the moon and beyond, yet at the same time we are being held hostage to a life form we can only see through an electron microscope. 

Against the emerging tension of impending lockdown, women are very adept at dealing with disruption. In general we don’t need a rule book, we tend to use our instinct on a day to day basis. We pepper our language with ”I felt it was the right thing to do” “I knew in my heart I should avoid it” etc. For the larger issues we may want ‘evidence’ but we often use this as backup. This is a time to see what decisions we can make to enhance our lives as we adapt to the challenge ahead and look forward to enjoying life on Zoom. Start with the events on offer this month through the FIWAL network of member clubs. It’s a lovely way to keep in touch.

Congratulations to Caroline Muir a Fiwal Past President and a member of the Advisory Committee. Caroline was honoured with the ‘Freeman of the City of London’ in October. This is in recognition of her many good works here in London since retirement from the Diplomatic Service, and those overseas. She was a hardworking diplomatic spouse for 38 years accompanying and supporting her husband throughout their postings in the Middle East, and keeping the flag flying for this country. Caroline joins a list of distinguished women, one of whom is Florence Nightingale who received the honour at the beginning of the 20th century. Well done, Caroline.

Join us for a wonderful event of music on 24th November to Mozart 250 The Journey of a Lifetime with acclaimed Conductor Ian Page, who has encouraged many young, wonderful, singers to reach reach audiences here and abroad.

Another special date for your diary; FIWAL Christmas Carols Concert on December 16th. which will be hosted by musician and composer Alla Sirenko of the Ukrainian Cultural Association (UCA UK). The Association became a member of FIWAL at our recent AGM. I hope you will join me in extending a warm welcome to our UCA -UK.
 
This month is Diwali, the festival of lights. May all those members taking part in this joyous occasion with family and friends enjoy the celebrations, even thought it may have to be a ‘virtual’ celebration this year.

Warm regards,

Siobhan

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

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President’s Message October 2020

Dear Ladies,

Life is precious, yet today the death toll due to the Corona virus has passed one million.

Many of us have had to make  the necessary adjustments to conform to the rules and regulations on social distancing due to Covid-19 with its unpredictability. These are trying times with a great deal of tension and sadness in our society accompanied by the inability to plan ahead with confidence.

We are fortunate to have FIWAL with our wide variety of member clubs to keep in touch with on line, literally at our fingertips. This facility of sharing information and interests, supporting members in times of stress and enjoying chat groups is a bonus and a shield from isolation.

This new prime way of communication was brought home to me when I joined the panel of the Diplomatic Spouse Networks at the annual Embassy Induction eForum on 23rd September. The programme was expertly headed up by Elizabeth Stewart, Editorial and programme director of Embassy Magazine and Events. The opening address was given by the Doyenne of the Diplomatic Corps, Mme Dalal Al Duwaisan.

Many of the new Diplomatic spouses who had arrived in London to take up their new appointments  went straight from the airport into lock down. Those who had young children found it daunting and had some interesting stories to tell including situations when metaphorically ‘climbing walls’ was all part of surviving. They are, as you can imagine, an intrepid group, who face various challenges in their move from one culture to another, Covid -19 added a significant new dimension to adjusting to their new life.

As I am not attending a myriad of events due to the pandemic, I have had little to report and therefore I have written each month about exceptional women. This month I would like to pay tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg the US Supreme Court Judge who died on 19th of September age 87.  The daughter of Jewish immigrants, she struggled against sexism for decades. She graduated top of her class at Columbia Law School but received no job offers. She recognised her three barriers and said; “I was Jewish, a woman and a mother.” She joined the top US court in 1993 where she continued to advocate for equality. Despite her struggle, she retained her sense of humour and once said that there would be enough women on the nine-seat Supreme court “when there are nine” Having served for almost three decades, she became part of the liberal wing of the court. She was the only female justice on the Supreme Court from 1993 to 2009. She was an advocate for Gender equality and as a voice for women’s rights, civil liberty, and a forceful voice on the rule of law.

This week please do sign up for our @Home with FIWAL on Thursday 1st October 10.30am. Due to an emergency, Emma Clark has had to cancel and there is a change of programme to the Beirut Garden of Forgiveness. Our speaker is Alexandra Asseily; Governor and founder for The Centre for Lebanese Studies. The event is free with optional donation towards charities involved with Beirut Emergency Appeals. Emma has offered to give her talk in Spring 2021. I look forward to seeing those of you who can join us on  Zoom.

Warm regards,
Siobhan

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

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President’s Message September 2020

Dear Ladies

September 1st marks the start of autumn in the meteorological calendar and we are facing cooler days and chilly nights. We are still battling with Covid-19 with increased numbers of cases being reported. Some of that increase is directly due to more access to testing. Our lives are changing and we are growing accustomed to social distancing, adaptability being one of our greatest strengths. How can we make the best use of this ‘confinement’?

What decisions are you making that will be to your advantage during and after Corona-19?  Having something to look forward to helps us to keep feeling positive and optimistic, and apparently increases our immunity.

To maintain this positivity and remain optimistic, I have a list of good intentions, wrapped in humour, somewhat like New Year’s resolutions, where only some of them are ever followed through! However that hasn’t curbed my enthusiasm and therefore I have been watching one comedy film a week, some black and white, some I have seen before and some just released. Laughing out loud is a particularly good tonic.

I plan impossible holidays (IMPL) e.g. a trip to the International Space Station (ISS), a little more on that later. Swimming with dolphins, yes, I know people do that but I can only swim 100yds and I need armbands. Making a pavlova; once I found out this had nothing to do with ballet I added it to my IMPL. Putting the shot at the Olympics. Actually this may not be impossible as there’s plenty of time to train due to our Covid-19 situation where large events are being curbed or delayed. I’m walking 20mins a day and eating for England, so that’s a maybe but I may watch a film instead.

However I know of someone who has been to the ISS and I intend to ask for a piggy back (a cavalluccio, in Italian). If anyone knows about lockdown (or lock up) it’s Captain Samantha Cristoforetti who has spent 200 days, 400km away from our vulnerable planet out in space. A remarkable lady who captained the Italian Air force and qualified as a fighter pilot. She beat 8,400 applicants to become a European Space Agency astronaut. Her recent book ‘Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut’ is about her almost five years of training. Some of that training was gruelling, where the impact on the body under extreme conditions in preparation for the weightlessness of ‘space’ is extraordinary. From the little village of Male in the Italian Alps she took on the biggest challenge of her life and lived her dream sending a powerful message to the next generation of girls that the world or their outer worlds is their oyster.

There are a number of videos from the European Space Station (ESA) with Samantha in the starring role. My favourite is: Role Models/Astronaut Samantha Cristofooretti/You Can Be Anything. It’s a lovely video and only 1m 20secs with a lasting message.

I look forward to your online events on Dateline and to seeing as many of you as possible on @Home with FIWAL on Zoom.  FIWAL will be making a donation to the Beirut disaster through trusted charities. You will find details on this month’s Dateline. There are many young children in perilous situations. Please bear in mind that even the smallest amount donated can buy half a litre of milk; every little counts.

Wishing you all a good September as we adapt, with maybe a little concern, to our children and grandchildren going back to school and university and further progress on the successful search for a vaccine.

Warm Regards,

Siobhan

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

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President’s Message August 2020

Dear Ladies

The good weather is here and it is very tempting to explore beyond ‘lockdown’. However some people have taken this to extremes and now we face the inevitability of further spikes. This weekend and in the week ahead the weather forecast in the South East (one of the lowest Covid- 19 areas in the UK) predicts perfect summer weather, which doesn’t bode well in terms of crowds on the beaches and in the cafe’s and restaurants. How long did it take to convince people to stop smoking? Or to stop wearing fur? These were huge campaigns which took years to take effect. I think we need a similar approach and to somehow encourage people to feel they are doing something important and positive rather than being denied freedom of choice of their actions.

So many of us continue to have our meetings on Zoom and for those of you who are still reluctant to try it, it has become very easy to access and understand. It is also an excellent alternative to meetings in groups. Please do contact events@fiwal.org.uk  for advice and assistance to get started so that you can invite other clubs to your events, socialise online and continue to raise your profile. Our WhatsApp forum is full of life, with daily message, pictures, news, congratulations, and support where needed. Even I, a latecomer to online technology, have found you don’t have to be a teenager to adopt new ways of communicating.

Our July 7th event on Zoom – @Home with FIWAL was a great success. Our speaker Dr. Geri Parlby, MA History of Art and a doctorate in Theology, Art Historian and Freelance Lecturer, gave a very interesting illustrated talk,  “This won’t Hurt a Bit – Medicine in Art Throughout the Ages”. It was fascinating, amusing and at times gory as primitive treatment methods were shown on screen.

Thank you to all our clubs who are offering events on Zoom. It is encouraging to see the variety on offer. Your commitment and hard work is appreciated.

Some years ago I was in Australia staying with a dear friend, another avid reader, who gave me a pile of books to dip into. The one I chose to read first was a true adventure story of Capt. Henry Rawlinson, a soldier, sportsman and explorer. From 1827 he spent twenty-five years in India, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. A brilliant linguist, he became obsessed with Cuneiform, one of the world’s earliest systems of writing. An immense inscription on a sheer rock face at Behistun in Iran was the key to understanding the many Cuneiform scripts and languages. Rawlinson had the skills to achieve the dangerous ascent and copy the monument.

Within this ground-breaking history of discovering an ancient language, he mentioned a time in January 1842 when the British garrison of Kabul, besieged, badly led, and out of food and ammunition, began its retreat to India. In the depths of winter, through mountainous passes, the column was constantly harassed by the Afghans. Discipline collapsed and every day hundreds died from hunger and cold, or attacks by insurgents. Very few survived. It was, arguably, the biggest military disaster of the 19th century.

Major-General Sir Robert Henry Sale who had been based in Kabul had been ordered to force a route through to Jalalabad just before the general uprising. This failed. Among the refugees was Lady Florentia Sale, wife of the Major General. Florentia and a number of others were taken hostage by an Afghan chieftain. Constantly being moved to avoid abduction attempts by rival factions and kept prisoners as a bargaining counter for future safe conduct, life was miserable: lice, fleas, earthquakes, rain, snow, lack of hygiene, glutinous mutton stew and little bedding or shelter. Her captors were quite prepared to kill her and her companions if it suited them. She knew the penalties.

Akbar Khan (1816–45)  the son of Dost Muhammad, ruled for three years before his death in 1845. He disregarded the terms of a treaty, and in January 1842 as refugees, Lady Sale and her daughter, Alexandrina, were taken hostage, along with British officers and soldiers and other women and children. A total of 63 hostages were held, several of whom died in captivity. The prisoners finally were released after nine months of captivity, when they offered to pay a large bribe to their Afghan jailer. Lady Sale, who was wounded in the initial fighting and had a bullet in her wrist, managed to keep the diary that she had begun in Kabul in September 1841, making frequent entries right up to her release.

This diary of the events leading up to and whilst in captivity, became a sensation when it was published in Britain in 1843 and she was seen as a heroine. Henry Rawlinson wrote that Lady Sale, with a large number of children, was taken hostage by Akbar Khan to insure the exodus of General Sale and his battalion, whom he had furnished with pack animals and food. Nine months later, in a severe winter Lady sale was released (probably through a settled ransom) to face the perilous journey and eventually caught up with the battalion. Word reached her that the children had been released from captivity without provisions and were dying from hunger cold and disease. Lady Sale and other wives of soldiers took the hazardous journey to go back for the children but less than half had survived.

I had a friend in England whose name is Sale and as it is an uncommon name I called him and asked if he knew of this history. Yes, he said she was my Great Grandmother and apart from other information, he mentioned that she had nine children!

I hope everyone who is celebrating Eid al-Adha is having a wonderful time with their friends and family, but not too close!

Warm Regards,

Siobhan

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

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President’s Message July 2020

Dear Ladies

As social distancing continues, we are finding new ways to keep in touch and to keep our minds active whilst enjoying some very good interactive events. We are spending more and more time communicating online via these new mediums.

In April, Eric Yuan helped 300 million people to connect online. We were amongst those he helped to stay connected. Eric, is the 50 year old Chinese-American founder of Zoom. In Chinese, his name is most auspicious, it being the name of the Chinese denomination of money, the Yuan. The currency being RMB. Eric is based in Silicon Valley and his workforce is in china. He is currently estimated to be worth $10 billion. Let’s hope he uses his powerful position for good.

In contrast to Eric’s huge success with Zoom, I recently enquired into Kew Gardens reopening plans. I want to visit the North Gallery again to see the magnificent paintings by Marianne North (1830-1890).

Marianne was born in Hastings. Her Father was a member of Parliament and she met many famous people including Charles Darwin who encouraged her to visit Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. She was an intrepid traveller and would go off the beaten track to find something special, on many occasions placing herself in great danger.  Her paintings of flowers, birds, and insects are exquisite showing detail and colours we would capture on a professional camera today. Marianne’s Asian-inspired gallery is filled with wonderfully vivid botanical paintings exactly as she had arranged them, and not entirely without an interesting fight! Kew Gardens is now open (with restrictions) and hopefully, North Gallery will be opening again soon.

I was delighted that so many of you joined us for our FIWAL AGM on June 9th. I commend those clubs who have already offered online events and encourage others to join in. In any club or association it is the members who matter. A lot of discussion and organisation goes on in the background to provide attractive and interesting programmes.

As we have had the experience of setting up and successfully running online events through ‘@ Home with FIWAL’  we will be happy to support you in getting started and sharing your events, and can be contacted at events@fiwal.org.uk.

We enjoyed a number of Zoom events during June including:

The Iranian Women’s Association (IWA) featuring Pia Stanchina, life and business coach to female leaders.

Association of Spouses of African High Commissioners and Ambassadors in UK (ASAHCA) : Maintaining a Physical and Mental Well-being in Times of Crisis. The session was informative and supportive and I’m sure many gained the benefits.

The American Women’s Club of London (AWC): James Oseland on his book “World Food: Mexico City” demonstrating delicious and easy recipes. Food and cooking always attracts a good audience inspiring us to be more creative, adventurous and experimental.

I am happy to announce that Mary Jane Eckert will be heading up Membership.

As you know, it is the aim of FIWAL to promote and broaden friendships and understanding between our member clubs. A key benefit of being a member is the networking with other clubs to share experiences, exchange ideas, make new friends, and experience cultures other than their own at social and cultural events. So over the summer months don’t hesitate to send an email to another club member seeking advice, asking for help or just saying hello. The FIWAL Directory is a great resource for this as is DATELINE.

We will continue to strive to enhance existing membership and bring new women’s associations into the family. Our newest member, the European Women’s Association UK (EWA) was voted on board at the AGM. We extend a very warm welcome to Dr. Inna Maks and her team.

If you have any questions, some new ideas or need help with anything Membership related please email Mary Jane at membership@fiwal.org.uk

I wish you all a very good Summer, and hope that Covid-19 will become less intrusive in our lives as we anticipate more freedom to travel and share time with friends and family.

Warm Regards,
Siobhan

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

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President’s Message June 2020

Having followed the rules on social distancing appears to have had a desirable effect.

The government has announced we are to have some social flexibility and what a delight that will be in tandem with the sunny forecast. Hopefully this will lift our spirits and have some beneficial effects. However much we remain cautious and vigilant.

FIWAL Execs continue to have our meetings on Zoom which, for those of you who are reluctant to try it, has become very easy to access and understand and an excellent alternative to meetings in person. Our WhatsApp forum remains very active for sharing ideas, humour and various greetings and support for those who need it.

I have have had plenty to read and watched a plethora of streamed programmes. So because of Covid-19 I thought I might share with you what I have learned about an extraordinary woman who is very little known and deserves celebrating.

June Almeida (nee Hart) was born in Glasgow 1930. She was a bright girl who had ambitions to go to university. However, due to the the family’s lack of funds she dropped out of school at the age of 16yrs and found a job in Glasgow Royal Infirmary as a lab technician analysing microscopic tissue samples. She moved to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and met Enriques Rosalio Almeida, a Venezuelan artist. They married and emigrated to Canada and June worked in the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. She was now using electron microscopes (giving much more detail) where she developed a revolutionary technique for describing the structure of viruses. She identified several viruses, and published widely.

She returned to London to St. Thomas’s Hospital Postgraduate Medical School and was approached by Dr. David Tyrrell in 1964, who wanted her to look at a particular virus he could not identify. She recognised others she had seen like it from small animals (mainly chickens and mice). She described the virus as a halo like image which looked like a crown, and this was given the Latin translation, Corona. Years earlier when she first published her images of Corona they were rejected, considered to be out of focus! She retired in 1985 but was invited back to St.Thomas in an advisory role. She died in 2007 in East Sussex.

I look forward to seeing your online events on Dateline.

I especially look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our AGM June 9th on Zoom 10.15am for 10.30 start.

Wishing  you all a healthy June as we adapt to a more flexible lifestyle and hopefully we are able to see at least some of our friends and family.

Warm Regards,
Siobhan

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

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