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

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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

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