130 years of SWWJ celebrated in style

SWWJ members, including Alex, and special guests gathered at the House of Lords on Weds [1 May] to mark another chapter in our Society’s long-running history.

Hosted by our president, The Baroness Dame Floella Benjamin OM DBE DL, we enjoyed a delicious lunch and drinks in the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, which has a stunning view overlooking the River Thames.

We were delighted to be joined by guests including patron the Earl of Stockton and the Countess of Stockton, Patron Simon Brett OBE, and renowned author and SWWJ honorary member Ken Follet.

Everyone was welcomed by SWWJ Chair, Barbara Field-Holmes who then invited. Baroness Benjamin to begin the day’s proceedings.

Baroness Benjamin talked about the important work we all do as writers, not just celebrating our Society’s history, but what we are doing now and for future generations. She spoke about how writing and reading can not only help to improve children’s lives, but empower them.

She spoke about her passion for working on behalf of children and her experience of coming to England as a child from Trinidad and how she wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. Something she has achieved as a children’s TV presenter, actress, broadcaster and parliamentarian and through her charitable works, over the years.

A toast was made to their Majesties, King Charles III and Queen Camilla – with a mention that Her Majesty was a big supporter of authors, reading and writers – something she champions in her Reading Room Initiative.

Best wishes were also sent from some of our honorary members and friends of SWWJ who couldn’t be with us on the day, including Gyles Brandreth, Jilly Cooper and Writing Magazine’s Tina Jackson.

Once lunch was enjoyed and members chatted at their tables swapping writing tales and endeavours, the prizegiving began.

The winner of the SWWJ 130th Anniversary competition, was Ann Mary Stanton, one of our overseas members. She was presented with the trophy by Baroness Benjamin. The theme of the competition was biography – Ann Mary’s subject was German architect and photographer Lotte Stam-Beese.

Chair Barbara Field-Holmes then made a surprise presentation to Valerie Dunmore, (Events/vice Chair and a vice president), a special Woman of the Year Award for her long-standing and continued contributions to the SWWJ. Presentations of bouquets of flowers were then made to Baroness Benjamin and competition judge Suzannah Dunn.

It was a wonderful day of celebrations and here’s to the next 130 years of the SWWJ.

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