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 Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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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 Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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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  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 Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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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

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

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 Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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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 Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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President’s Message May 2020

Dear Ladies,

We are living in very challenging times, many of us under lockdown and keeping personal distancing to ensure we do not either pick up Covid-19 or pass it on. These imposed limitations are having a very positive effect so that everyone should already feel that we are making a contribution to saving lives and reducing the strain on the National Health Service (NHS).

Founded on 5th July 1948 the NHS stemmed from the Minority Report of the Royal Commission of the Poor Law 1909. Heading up that report was an intrepid individual, Beatrice Webb, an English sociologist, economist, labour historian and social reformer. Webb was also a founding member of the Fabian Society. Her amazing work calls to mind two other great ladies who did so much for the socially neglected, Lady Astor (the first female to take her seat in Parliament) and Lady Clementine Churchill both Americans who married into the English Aristocracy.

Apart from grim effects Covid-19 is having, there is another side to its progression with a noticeable impact on lowering carbon emissions. We are approaching a reduction of 5%, in CO2 which would represent the biggest drop in demand for industry on record and CO2 from fossil fuels could fall 2.5bn tonnes in 2020.

Our FIWAL WhatsApp Forum for the Exec committee has taken off with a flurry of exchanges, including pictures, general advice, recipes, birdsong, and information on opera, theatre and film on various streaming services. It helps to keep us connected and supportive and most valuable at this time, to share humour.

We now have our formal Exec meetings on Zoom so that it’s business as usual. In fact, we have decided to continue to hold our events in this way. The good news is that our first @HOME with FIWAL will be held on May 5th. You will see the poster in Dateline and on our events page. It is a very different day from the one we were planning as our Biennial Conference 2020 was scheduled to take place. However, I am delighted to announce that one of our speakers, Katie Caldesi has agreed to step forward and talk about eating well at home. Katie and her husband Giancarlo own and run the Caldesi restaurants and have co-authored at least 12 books. Katie is the principal of their cookery school, La Cucina Caldesi. We are in for a treat!

I hope that as many of you as possible will join us and Katie on Zoom. The talk will be free to members and friends and in the spirit of supporting those women trapped in domestic violence (which has risen alarmingly) I would ask you to make a donation to our chosen charity Solace Women’s Aid:

Instructions for joining Zoom and on making your donation have been sent to FIWAL club representatives on Dateline.

Congratulations to the clubs that have been enterprising and already launched online events. The world around us is changing and we need to be prepared to adapt to a virtual community and share our events so that we can connect with as many people as possible and keep the spirit of FIWAL progressive and inclusive.

Whilst we have to fight adversity and face demanding circumstances, keep in the mind the following quote: ‘What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies within you’, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I wish you all a safe and healthy journey through this demanding time.

Warm Regards,

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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President’s Message April 2020

Dear Ladies

In this chalenging time of the Covid -19 Pandemic I have had to clear my diary of social engagements for the foreseeable future.

However, before the government’s crowd control was initiated, I attended a very interesting event to celebrate the Women in Africa initative (WIA), the first international platform dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential African women. The Founder of WIA Mrs. Aude de Thuin gave an excellent speech on the positive impact WIA are having on building businesses and fostering the leadership of women. The event was held at the Moroccan Ambassadorial Residence by kind permission of H.E. The Ambassador Mr. Abdesselam Aboudrar and Mme Aboudrar. I was accompanied by FIWAL colleagues Zehan Albakri, 1st Vice President and Hulya Kocu, Diplomatic Liaison. We met many friends and colleagues of FIWAL some of whom have hosted events for us; Mme. Maha Benlarbi, Spouse of the Tunisian Ambassador and Mme. Augustina Owusu-Ankomah, Spouse of the Ghanaian Ambassador.

It is unfortunate, but essential, that due to government guidelines we have cancelled the FIWAL Biennial Conference 2020. We had a wonderful line up of experts to speak on diverse areas of health. Hopefully, the many months of work by our events team and others will not go to waste and when this pandemic is over we will consider a suitable date to reschedule. I am pleased to report that FIWAL will receive a refund  for all the monies paid to the venue.

The FIWAL Executive will be holding scheduled monthly meetings online. Therefore, if you have any queries that you would like to raise please do not hesitate to contact me. The next meeting is to be held on Tuesday, April 14th which is just after the Easter weekend. So please send your query by Tuesday 7th April.

We also have an informal WhatsApp account so that the Executive and Advisory Committee can keep in touch. This is something you may find beneficial for your own organizations.

Finally, on behalf of FIWAL, I wish you courage in the months ahead and invite you to enjoy the April Survival Links below.

Warm regards

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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April Survival Links

Women’s Art Blog 
10 of the world’s best virtual museum and art gallery tours

13 Books You Should Read in April

What Your Go-To Quarantine Read Says About You
The longlists for the Best Translated Book Awards
Some of the best online poetry, as read by actual poets
ReadInstead litfest schedule: April 3 – 9

Aussie Pops Orchestra Phones In In – What a Wonderful World
Bolshoi Theatre Youtube channel
Fabulous music that will move you to tears
Foreign films with English subtitles link

National Theatre

The English Garden

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do
World Health Organization on Corona

Homes & Property

Sabrina Ghayour
Jamie Oliver
Nigella Lawson

HealthFlix: An online community built by leading experts in health and wellbeing to help us all get through the stress and isolation of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis

Meditation: Free classes during April with Gabriella Espinosa on Mondays & Thursdays
8:15 – 8:45am. Access Zoom Meeting “Sit With Me”  Join URL

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President’s Message March 2020

Dear Ladies,

On the tail of February, March “arrives like a lion and leaves like a lamb.” I have known better Februaries, however the weather report for February 2020 was a high of 47degrees Farenheight and a low of 31degrees Farenheight. This would have been more evident if it wasn’t for the very strong winds, Storms Denis, flooding and even snow a few days ago.

We now have the threat of the Coronavirus. Last month I gave you the GOV.UK Coronavirus email address to use for daily updates. I have since discovered a very good BBC site:  I have taken to wearing gloves to avoid touching handles and hand rails and I carry hand gel as well as tissues. Sneezing from and touching an infected person are the main ways the virus spreads.

On a brighter note we had a wonderful evening of culture, food and music at the magnificent Turkish Ambassadorial Residence, by the kind invitation of His Excellency Ambassador Yalcin and Mrs Gul Yalcin. Pricilla Mary Isin gave a very interesting illustrated talk on her book “Bountiful Empire, A History of Ottoman Cuisine.” And we were entertained by two young ladies, both musical scholars who tackled some difficult works with great success by Eric Satie, and Maurice Ravel. The buffet food was very colourful and most delicious, also beautifully displayed in large silver serving dishes. The  hospitality we received will be long remembered by all those who attended, as witnessed by a long list of emails I received by so many of you who participated. This event was sold out early and had an eager waiting list, from which a few people managaed to acquire places.

Dateline, as ever, is full of interesting events and I hope to get to as many as possible over the next few months.

With warm wishes,

SiobhanSiobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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President’s Message February 2020

Dear Ladies

In beginning a New Year we usually take time to look ahead and make plans for the future, in the form of New Year’s resolutions. Common themes are work (paid or voluntary), family, learning something new and taking care of our health.

Our Biannual Conference: Monday 20th April 2020 – Women’s Health – A Positive Future, will encourage us to do just that, manage our body and mind in a more informed and constructive way. Save the date, you will be updated on the details as soon as they become available.

When considering your New Year’s resolutions, taking a medium to long view e.g. looking two to five years ahead, takes the urgency away and helps to keep your chosen goals in persective, its not a competition but a means of improving our lifestyle.

Do include something you can do to address climate change. It’s one of the biggest problems we face and every little we do helps, and sets an example to others. Think about what you buy, how you travel and how you dispose of items. There are lots of sites to visit and a number of informative BBC and other programmes to watch. To keep up I prefer websites I can dip into over a coffee therefore, at the moment, my favourite is the NASA one for “Kids” and due to the catastrophc fires in Australia which gives brief updates on action being taken to address this horendous problem and the wider issues of climate change. We are all affected by climate change and we should all be involved in whatever way we can to slow down the destruction and repair, to preserve our only home, planet Earth.

If you are eager to have updates on the coronavirus, now declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the latest information and advice, GOV.UK Coronavirus, updated 2pm daily.

I attended the Australia Day luncheon on 24th January by kind invitation of Belinda Miles, President of The Australia Women’s Club London. This year’s theme was “Singing and Dancing Showcase.” It was a wonderful occasion with a three part harmony group “The Girl’s from Oz”. The atmosphere was ‘electric’ Australian women know how to celebrate!

I was lovely to see so many Club officers and representatives at our Board Meeting on January 20th. Gael Panhelleux of FOCUS gave an excellent presentation on Maintaining and Increasing Membership. Gael gave us practical tips that are easy to incorporate into our strategy.

On 22nd January Zehan and I attended the very enjoyable FOCUS Annual Party.

I’m looking forward to Wednesday 26th February 2020 to an evenng of culture, food and music to be held at the Residence of the Turkish Ambassador. Tickets have almost sold out so please see details in Dateline and make your booking asap. This promises to be a very lovely evening.

Dateline, as ever, is full of interesting events and I hope to get to as many as possible over the next few months and look forward to seeing you.

Warm wishes
Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips President FIWAL

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December 2019 President’s Message

December 2019

Dear Ladies,

With Christmas less than four weeks away, it is one of the busiest times of the year for observing and celebrating the Festive season according to our own faiths and traditions. Keeping in touch with family and friends, some of whom we rarely see due to their worldwide locations, is so important. Social media has many advantages and so often comes to the rescue when we need to share important news.
May I take this opportunity to send every good wish to you all with the hope that 2020 will be a more settled and peaceful year for everyone.

When considering what presents to buy, do take a look at various charities, many of which have wonderful goods on offer giving us the opportunity to contribute to those in need.

Our FIWAL Festive Autumn Lunch was held on 12th November at the award winning Lykia Restaurant in Golders Green. The feedback from attendees was hugely positive. Everyone who emailed, texted or phoned mentioned the delicious food, and many guests included comments on the attractive food presentation and the attentive staff. I extend a big thank you to everyone involved in the organisation of this enjoyable event.

Along with FIWAL Honorary Treasurer, Sylvia Wallach, on 25th November I was invited to attend International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: Commonwealth No More Campaign. This is being championed by the Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland QC Secretary General of the Commonwealth who gave an informative and moving speech. During the event Baroness Scotland signed the Commonwealth’s partnership with the NO MORE Foundation, designed to implement initiatives that work on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual abuse as part of wider efforts to achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals.

‘NO MORE’ is having a huge impact on raising awareness of domestic violence with programmes such as ‘Peace in the Home’. There was plenty of advice given on what each of us can do to make a positive difference in someone’s life. Advice on how to pass on information to someone you know directly or through a third party was particularly valuable; victims can get appropriate help by contacting  The campaign has been backed by HRH Prince Charles and HRH Duchess of Cornwall and went public after the signing of the partnership with the 53 countries in the Commonwealth.

On the last sunny day in November, I had the privilege of seeing one of the best panoramic views of London. As a guest of Marianne Harper, President of NZWA, I enjoyed a splendid lunch held in the superb penthouse in New Zealand House. The speaker was Catherine Callaghan QC, BA, LLB (Victoria) LLM (Cambridge). Before taking silk in 2018 Catherine was already gathering recognition from her peers for, among other areas, her expertise in public and regulatory law, civil liberty and human rights. Her story, from childhood through school and university to Blackwood Chambers as one of the top women QC’s, is very impressive.

There are some lovely seasonal events to attend in December, as advertised in Dateline (our e-newsletter is distributed to FIWAL representatives of all our member associations). I look forward to seeing those of you who are involved in organising your event and those who will be attending.

Mark your diaries for Dinner at the Turkish Ambassadors Residence on Wednesday 26 February 2020, and FIWAL’s Biennial Conference on 20 April 2020 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel. Full details will be sent as soon as available.

Wishing you all the Compliments of the Season.

With my best wishes

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President, FIWAL

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