Pat Shore MBE, President of Soroptimist International of Harrogate & District, opened the event
Pat Shore MBE, President of Soroptimist International of Harrogate & District, opened the event

Soroptimist International of Harrogate and District celebrate International Women’s Day

11 March 2024

Soroptimist International of Harrogate and District celebrated International Women’s Day  on Friday 8 March 2024, at the Wesley Chapel in Harrogate.

The event, titled “Forging an inclusive world for women and girls” heard from a number of speakers and gave out two community awards.

Pat Shore MBE, President of Soroptimist International of Harrogate & District, opened the event

Paula Newson Smith is the Incoming High Sheriff in Nomination, North Yorkshire 2024-5

She was the guest speaker, and spoke about the challenges affecting women, being an authentic leader, and there being a sticky floor, rather than a glass ceiling, with the sacrifices often needed by women needed to career progress.

Paula Newson Smith
Paula Newson Smith

Ruth Healey is the  President of Soroptimist International of Great Britain & Ireland. Ruth spoke about inequality.

Sandra Frier introduced the Young Woman & Woman in the Community Award, paying credit to those that give their time for free.

The Stray Notes concluded the evening.

The Stray Notes
The Stray Notes


Young Woman in the Community Award

  • Grace Isobel Hughes AWARD WINNER
  • Emily Haughton HIGHLY COMMENDED

Woman in the Community Award

  • Lindsay Oliver AWARD WINNER
    • Helen Mackenzie
    • Pat Donkin
    • Elizabeth Sewell on behalf of Susie Hart
    • Annie Kilroy
    • Jeannette Wilson

Profiles of those nominated


Grace Isobel Hughes – Grace spends a lot of her time volunteering and helping others, when she’s not at Harrogate College studying Music. In 2022 she gave a huge amount of her free time arranging and preparing for an evening of classical music for the Harrogate & District Soroptimists’ event to raise money for Dementia Forward.

Grace is an ambassador for Orchestras for All, helping members learn music, organise concerts and tutoring other musicians.

For 3 and a half years, Grace has been regularly helping Saint Michael’s Hospice as a volunteer in the Ripon shop.  She has taken part in fundraisers and was a model in our 2021 Fashion Show, which raised thousands of pounds for Just ‘B’/Saint Michaels Hospice.

Grace is self motivated and committed to giving her time and sharing her skills to help others and give back to her local community.

Highly Commended

Emily Haughton – Emily has been a volunteer at Harrogate & District Foundation Trust since January 2023. She is on the Hospital’s Enhanced Support Pathway, which supports volunteers who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Twice a week, Emily supports the Harrogate Hospital & Community Charity team with a range of tasks from itemising stock, delivering donations to wards, shredding and helping out at events, always greeting everyone with an infectious smile. Emily is the first to offer her time to help out at HHCC fundraising events and also featured in a promotional video.

Despite the challenges Emily faces, her enthusiasm and determination has proved to herself and everyone what she is capable of.


Lindsay Oliver – In 2018 Lindsay embarked on an extraordinary journey, after fleeing an abusive relationship with her small babe in arms. She set up New Beginnings Peer Support in 2019, recognising that for women in the Ripon area, who have suffered domestic abuse, there was very little in the way of support, despite ongoing trauma, financial hardship, housing issues, mental health difficulties and isolation.

New Beginnings is an after crisis domestic abuse service, supporting women and their children by providing the foundation for them to grow and rebuild their lives. The number of women who have benefitted from this support has grown substantially.

With peer support, survivors can find solace, guidance, and hope in the shared stories and journeys of others. Many now volunteer themselves.

Lindsay has shown exceptional leadership, vision, dedication and a passion for serving others. Her work stands as a testament to the potential of individuals to create profound, positive change for themselves, their families and networks.  Living lives in safety, with security and hopefulness.

Highly Commended are:

Helen Mackenzie – Helen set up the food charity ‘Back to Basics’ in Ripon in 2019, to help families who struggle to make ends meet.  The idea is that families get back to basics in the kitchen, preparing everything from scratch, with the help of a recipe card and some support and education. Helen currently delivers food packages to 14 families, with every ingredient needed for a healthy, hearty meal.  Families are more confident to serve up a decent meal and their children learn life skills too.

This invaluable provision to families is only possible through financial donations, Helen’s fundraising activities and donations of foodstuffs from local businesses.

Helen is making a huge difference to those families she supports

Pat Donkin – Pat has been a volunteer for her Salvation Army Community Church in Wetherby, for over 20 years. Every week she will sit at the town market selling the Salvation Army War Cry. She personally raises around £3,000 each year, which is fed back into the local community to help families who are struggling. This has helped to make a considerable difference to many people in the Wetherby area.

Pat was also part of the Salvation Army Livewires Team helping to run a weekly kids club.

Susie Hart – Since 2003, Susie’s leadership and working with others, has made a big difference to the lives of many, including deaf people and those with physical disabilities, through offering training, employment and support. She founded the Neema Crafts Centre, Café and workshops in Tanzania and Artizan in Peru and Ecuador. In 2010 Susie was awarded an MBE for ‘Services to Disabled People in Tanzania’.  She is currently in Peru helping to develop the workshops.

Susie set up Artizan International in Harrogate in 2012, providing therapeutic craft workshops in Harrogate, Ripon and Leeds, for adults and children with disabilities.

In 2020 Artizan were gifted a Harrogate town centre property with craft workshop space and a fair trade shop, selling crafts made by differently able artisans overseas. More recently an Artizan Café and Creative Space opened to provide training and work experience for adults with learning disabilities.

Annie Kilroy – Annie has been volunteering for Harrogate Hospital Radio for over 10 years. As a Record Requester, Annie goes round the wards asking for requests. With kindness and a great sense of humour, she has conversations with many patients, their families and hospital staff, and is a great support to the Chaplaincy Team. Annie makes a huge contribution to patients’ wellbeing, mental health and faith.

Jeannette Wilson – Jeannette has shown unerring loyalty and commitment as a volunteer fundraiser for over 50 years for the Friends of Harrogate Hospital.  Working with the team in countless activities and being personally responsible for many.

During her voluntary service, over £2.3m pounds has been donated to buy equipment for the local NHS.

Jeannette has also sustained the vital role of Secretary for the Charity for many years.

There were two other nominees from Harrogate District Hospital, who were highly commended by our judges for the fantastic volunteering work they do.  As they have expressed a wish for no publicity, Dr Andrews, Medical Director, HDH will be presenting their certificates to them.


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