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This year, we are celebrating 35 years of Louth International Women’s Association. 

The Aim of the IWA: to bring together women from various countries to share all that make them unique: culture, literature, folklore, language, cuisine, etc. It has no political affiliations. 

IWA had its first meeting in March 1987 with 23 attending. 

Founding members: Haydee Pheby, Marisa Ayton, Inge Oldman, Jeannie Gurnam, Doris Caffrey, Glynis Dunthorn. 

Haydee Pheby was the main force behind the IWA. She was very engaged, approaching people who sounded foreign in the street, inviting the women to come along to our meetings. Coming from a British/Italian family settled in Argentina, she later lived in India with her husband who was a naval officer and finally came to England. This gave her a very international mindset, an interest in people of all origins, in languages and cultures.  

Meetings were mostly held in member’s houses until before Covid, which meant we could bring food from our own country of birth for all to sample. 

Initially the Louth IWA was part of “Open Door”, a linking service for International Women’s groups around the world that is still performing its role from The Hague. Presently, the closest group to us on their website is the Humberside Women’s Club. 

In the first year we had 40 members from 16 nationalities: American, Argentinian, Spanish, Austrian, Malaysian, English, German… 

The local press showed quite an interest in our group and we had articles regularly in the Louth Leader, with photos. Until fairly recently, Susan Banks wrote reports for the papers to use at their discretion. However, now we have our own web page and post Covid, things have changed a little.  

 We took the IWA to local primary schools to introduce to the children to traditions and foods from India, Germany, Austria, France, Spain and other countries.  

 Many of our members had young children for whom we organised special family events: crafting items for sale at a market stall, annual BBQs and Xmas parties, picnics at Hubbard Hills, barn dances, quizzes, etc. 

We raised money on a regular basis for charitable organisations mostly abroad (the Cochabamba project in Bolivia, a clinic in Lagos, Tanzania rural revival, the Natandy fund,  and many others) , and also for causes here in Lincolnshire (women’s refuge, SENSE, Louth hospital, Help the homeless, Save the children…). We did this by selling home-made items (cakes, artefacts) on market stalls, having soup lunches, picnics and such. 

WE organised outings to theatres, gardens, visits to famous sites and towns.  

The IWA has been a thriving group of international women for all those years.  Now we have 34 members, two literature groups, one Issues Now group, and regular fortnightly lunch meetings. We are looking forward sharing more events where members can participate, share their experiences. It is great that we carry on attracting new members. 


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