Wellington may not seem to be a place likely to have a dynamic international community but the establishment of The International Ladies of Wellington proves that it definitely exists. Women of a considerable range of nationalities have found mutual support and friendship in belonging to the group and sharing experiences and information.
The group was the brainchild of Martina Brodie from Slovakia and Alexandra Lavizzari from Switzerland. Martina may be remembered as the owner of The Chocolate Box in South Street, which is now Funky Nails. She has been a journalist in Monaco and is a businesswoman; Alexandra is an photographer, artist, poet and novelist with more than 20 books already published in German. Her paintings are exhibited in The Emporium Somerset and at The Old Brick Workshop at Poole.
Martina explained how the group came into being: “I met Alexandra for coffee and on the way we met a lady from Venezuela and another from India so we decided to create a platform for such people who live in or near Wellington. We set up the group 4 months ago and hold monthly meetings which are optional and have no regulations. We meet, get along, network and offer one another friendship. A member has recently invited us all to lunch.
“The group now includes other women from Peru, India, Japan, Australia, Poland, Italy, Germany and the USA – all of whom live and work in or near the town. There are so many people from across the world here but there was no real network – so we are sure it will grow.”
Asked to say what impressed her about Wellington, Eve Yates from Florida but who has lived and worked around the world, said, “It was the feeling of community. I felt I could go into any shop and speak to people. Everyone was so polite and helpful.” Now the international community in the town is itself working to help all those from other countries to settle and feel at home.