Fun, friends and fundraising
The Chiltern American Women’s Club is a vibrant group of ex-pats from the USA, combined with a number of locals from around Bucks who have collectively raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds for charity. Community Editor Mort Smith talks to two of th
PAM Houghton is president of the Chiltern American Women’s Club (CAWC and she is passionate about the opportunities it provide for women across the county.
The club was formed in 1950 by a group of American wives of men serving with the United Stat Air Force in and around Bucks.
Initially, there were two group – one in Beaconsfield and the other in Gerrards Cross – but they eventually came together to create CAWC in 1987.
Ms Houghton, who hails from Omaha, Nebraska, explained: “The original object of the exercise was to create a support network for military wives who came across to the UK with their husbands and who were therefore thrust into a new environment and a new culture.
“The club was established to try to ensure that living in the UK is a rewarding experience.”
Her colleague, Pam Showalter is a past president of CAWC who is now on her third visit to these shores and is obviously very much at home here.
She said: “The club has three key objectives which we jokingly call the ‘three Fs’ - Friendship, Fun and Philanthropy.
“We aim to offer a friendly welcome for people arriving in this country and we organise a whole host of fun things to do for club members – from travelling to visit places of historic interest in England, organising sporting activities like tennis and golf, lunch clubs, wine tasting, quilting, a book group, the list goes on and on. Really there’s something happening nearly every day of the week.”
But it is on the philanthropy front that CAWC has really made its mark, collecting more than £225,000 for a range of local charities since 1987 with the majority of the cash coming from its annual Christmas bazaar. The most recent one took place at the Bellhouse Hotel in Beaconsfield last month.
Ms Houghton said: “We’ve always supported the Epilepsy Society in Chalfont St Peter and each year we choose at least one other local charity as well and divide the proceeds of the Christmas bazaar equally between them.
“The members get together to make gift baskets containing top of the line goods that have been donated and we sell them at the bazaar for around £20-30 each to raise money. There are also a number of other vendors who come along and pay for the privilege of being able to sell to the people we attract.”
CAWC Members at a meeting held recently at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club; right, making gift baskets for the CAWC charity bazaar are Lori Urban, Lety Wicks and Yvonne Landmark and above, past Presidents Pam Showalter (2002-2003), Robin Smirnov (2012-2014), Heather Collins (2010-2012) and the current incumbent, Pamela Houghton