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:
helping out at the hospital
visiting hospitalised people
gathering articles of clothing for orphans etc.
In 1947 and 1949 LC Sweden and Denmark, respectively were founded. By 1950 there were 5 LC Clubs in Scandinavia and work started for an Inter Scandinavian Association which was founded in the same year. It is worth noting that during this time contacts between GB&I, Sweden & Denmark flourished. Since Denmark & Sweden were forming their own National Associations the Inter Scandinavian Association closed.
29 May 1959 is 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. This is where the constitution was drawn up based on equality of all member associations within an international structure.
From this developed the Aims and Objectives:
To promote international friendship, understanding and goodwill by encouraging members to extend their knowledge of each other and other people.
To promote, co-ordinate 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 Round Table wherever possible.
The membership was open to wives of Round Table who fell within the age group 18 to 40.
As the years rolled by other countries joined LCI with the last country to join being Canada last June 2007. In 1994 at the Annual General Meeting a significant rule change was passed, following which Ladies Circle International became totally independent from Round Table, in that Ladies Circle is now open to all women between the age of 18 to 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.
Today LCI is an international service organisation represented by approximately 13,000 members, in 36 countries across continents Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.