The history of Ladies' Circle International
Ladies’ Circle (LC) sets its roots in England where the first Circle was founded in Bournemouth by wives of Round Table members. By 1936 the first English Clubs formed the English National Ladies’ Circle Association (GB&I). At that time, during the war ‘Circling’ was limited to social obligations like helping out at the hospital, running canteens, visiting hospitalised people and gathering articles of clothing for orphans etc.
In 1947, LC Sweden was founded and was followed by LC Denmark two years later. Contact was made between members of these first three countries, and on 29 May 1959 an important date in the History of LCI since it is on this day, at the RTI AGM in Leiden, Holland the three countries established Ladies’ Circle International (LCI). The founder members of LCI were Molly Worley (President), LC GB&I, Jen Ulfvik (Vice President), LC Sweden, Margery Coombe (Secretary), LC GB&I, and Søs Tarp (Treasurer), LC Denmark.
The constitution was drawn up, based on equality of all member associations within an international structure. From this developed the Aims and Objects:
- To promote international friendship, understanding and goodwill by encouraging members to extend their knowledge of each other and other people.
- To promote, coordinate and develop the extension of Ladies’ Circle throughout the world.
- To be non-political and non-sectarian.
- To promote, co-ordinate & develop working relationships with the International Round Table family wherever possible.
Ladies’ Circle expanded into new countries and continents. In 1959 LC Finland was founded, followed by LC Norway in 1961, LC Belgium and LC Hong Kong in 1967, LC France and LC India in 1970, LC Kenya in 1971 and LC Germany in 1972. In 2013 Ladies’ Circle exists in four continents, with over 13,000 members spread across 34 countries.
At the 1994 AGM, a significant rule change was passed; following which Ladies’ Circle International became totally independent from Round Table. Ladies’ Circle is now open to all women between the ages of 18 and 45.
In 2006 LCI & RTI signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two clubs to encourage a closer relationship whilst assisting each other. Referred to as the ‘Side by Side’ (SBS) agreement for which two pins have been produced. Proceeds from sale of pins go towards International Charity projects for Ladies’ Circle and Round Table respectively.
At the AGM in 2010 it was agreed to recognize and respect this Memorandum of Understanding and the ongoing cooperation between the two organisations by adding item 4 in the Aims and Objectives – see above.
Today LCI is an international service organisation represented by approximately 13 000 members, in over 40 countries across continents Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.