Soroptimist International of Calgary


Soroptimist is an international organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world.

Almost 95,000 Soroptimists in about 120 countries and territories contribute time and financial support to community-based and international projects that benefit women and girls.


Soroptimist International of Calgary (SIOC)

The following article was originally printed in Soroptimist International of Calgary’s SIOC News and reprinted in Ostomy Canada Winter 2008 edition.


Ann Hambridge is honoured to be presented with the Soroptimist Francis E. Wagner AwardWestern Canada Region Governor Elect Angela Bunting presented the Frances Wagner Award to Ann Hambridge from SI Calgary.
Her speech follows:

The Frances Wagner Award is presented annually to a Soroptimist, in good standing, in recognition of leadership and service in her professional, personal and Soroptimist life. Our award recipient has had careers in entrepreneurship, administration, management, public relations, marketing and sales, and volunteerism.

1964-1984 – In her twenty years with Shell UK she was the first woman to be appointed in a UK oil company to a middle management position. As Public Affairs Manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland she:

  • administered competition for children to steward and improve their environments under the Shell Better Britain Campaign;
  • initiated a youth self-employment scheme known as Shell Livewire, which now operates in many countries worldwide;
  • received the Confederation of British Industry Scotland Ideas at Work Award for Industrial Excellence in Youth Enterprise.

1984-1994 – She was a consultant to Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and lecturer to Scottish University and College courses in Public Relations and was the first woman member of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Petroleum (Scotland).

During this time she was

  • volunteer public relations consultant and director of Crossroads (Scotland) Care Attendant Schemes;
  • member of the Scottish Baptist Communications Committee and deacon in local Baptist church;
  • partner with her late husband in MasterBrew (UK) Coffee Franchise in central Scotland;
  • partner with husband in USANA Health Sciences distributorship focusing on improved health and quality of life.

Immigrating to Canada in late 1994, following her marriage, she was refused permanent residency because of her cancer history. Under advice from legal counsel they sought out letters of support. Over 200 positive letters were received from friends, associates, clergy, community leaders and Soroptimists. In his submission to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, her solicitor wrote “I have never seen such an outpouring of support as l have for this couple. The humanitarian factors in this case are strong” … residency was granted … NINE YEARS LATER!

In 1999 she was honoured with a tile on the Wall of Women of Distinction in Calgary for her service in caring and compassion for a single mum.

2004-2005 – President of Calgary Ostomy Society and 2007 Chairperson of the Planning Committee for United Ostomy Association of Canada National Conference in Calgary.

Our award recipient has over 50 years of service in her community.

  • Girl Guide Captain in her teens and twenties, enabling young girls to learn coping skills and independence
  • Member of SI Glasgow Central, holding the office of Club President 1983-1984
  • Member of SI Motherwell and Wishaw holding the office of Club President 1990-1991
  • Member of SI Calgary since 1995
  • Member of SI Long Range Planning Committee in the early 1980’s

She has been active in programme action projects in all SI Clubs; served as a mentor to younger and new Soroptimists encouraging them to participate in Divisional Union/Region, National and International Conferences.

She has attended quadrennial conferences in Birmingham, England, Turkey, Finland and Sydney, Australia.

She has been and continues to be a very caring individual. Along with the Shell Better Britain Campaign and the Shell Livewire Youth Self Employment Scheme, she:

  • cared for infirm father-in-law until his death;
  • weekly visited geriatric hospital patients;
  • shared her tiny bungalow with an elderly neighbour while awaiting roofing repairs to her own home;
  • became a step mother in 1985 to two teenage boys when their own mother had died from cancer;
  • helped rehabilitate ex prisoner;
  • trained Pastoral and Palliative Care Lutheran Hospital Ministries visitor;
  • trained as a Stephen minister, offering Christian caring to families going through difficult circumstances;
  • supported a single mum emotionally and spiritually, through debt, employment, housing, legal and health issues and providing temporary housing;
  • supported a middle age divorcee with chronic mental health issues and physical disabilities for over five years through spiritual, emotional and practical support;
  • trained Ostomy Society visitor for three Calgary hospitals – helping women and their families cope with a new Ostomy;
  • active in the Inn from the Cold initiative in Calgary which provides meals and accommodation to homeless families, including single mothers and children, in church premises.

Her involvement in many projects within all of the SI Clubs of which has been a member never overshadowed her desire to do more.

  • In 1970 through SI Glasgow she spearheaded a civic action to enable female doctors to job share.
  • In 1991 she supported the start ups of local victim support group and mastectomy support group.

In her community she continues to advocate on behalf of many groups.

  • Advocated for the provision of running water and shelf or counter in disabled washrooms. Now several new facilities are integrating these designs in response to the Alberta government’s change in building codes.
  • Advocated the raising of Alberta’s minimum wage from $5.90 an hour to $7.00 an hour through the local Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada and SI Calgary. The following year Alberta raised the minimum wage to $7.00.
  • Advocated provision of European style public toilets downtown for people with impaired waterworks, bowel or prostate problems, baby changing facilities and tourists. The first facility was installed in Calgary in 2008.
  • Advocates for women and children who want to immigrate to Canada to join their Canadian husbands.
  • Advocates for Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners to have their UK state pensions paid at the same rate as if they continued to live in the UK.

She is an inspiration and role model to all women.
She “walks the talk”.

One of her ongoing priorities is hospitality:

  • In Glasgow ensured that ladies from Soroptimist House were invited to Club social events and to her home for Christmas dinner.
  • In Motherwell invited the ladies from the local Abbeyfield Church of Scotland home to lunch.
  • Welcomes and befriends immigrants and strangers, helping them to learn to speak English and understand Canadian customs and culture. Guests have come from many countries.

Faith and Compassion:

  • accepting and working through challenges;
  • pioneering to enhance opportunities particularly for women;
  • reaching out to help others from her own experiences, particularly those gained through diversity and illness;
  • determination, loyalty and persistence;
  • love, support and encouragement to those in need;
  • positive attitude and sense of humor.

Her Christian Faith is the backbone to her mission to reach out in love and caring.

Volunteer Counselor:

From her experiences of surviving marriage to and divorce from a chronic depressant alcoholic, bereavement through the death of her second husband, and the challenge of immigration, she takes very seriously her role as volunteer counselor, companion, encourager.

Personal Challenges:

Ann has survived colorectal cancer three times and many surgeries and treatments, has had a colostomy (1991), now has both an ileostomy and urostomy and requires nightly hydration infusions by permanent central line.

Her resolution is to encourage and support others experiencing similar fears (cancer) and rehabilitation through her volunteer work with Calgary Ostomy Society, support Groups, and preparedness to lend a listening ear to anyone in crisis.

Courage and Perseverance:

Ann is a woman of indomitable courage and perseverance. She chaired the Canadian Ostomy Conference while wearing an IV antibiotic bag to treat a serious infection and fighting the inevitable fatigue that occurs while under treatment. This is only one instance of how she keeps going despite serious health issues that would have defeated lesser human beings.

Ann’s selfless generosity with her time and money in helping others is remarkable. Her awareness of the needs of others has been an innate part of her throughout her career and during retirement.

In all of her dealings with people, whether in business or volunteer situations, Ann treats others with respect and encourages laughter and improved self-image through a lively sense of humor and fun-loving charisma.