By Gillian Kew

Last weekend, I experienced something magical. No, I didn’t suddenly find the cure for Covid or the secret to World Peace (shame), but I did find that even during what are euphemistically dubbed “difficult times”, it was still possible to have a great time with friends. This was WiPS’ first virtual party, to launch IMPRINT 20 and to celebrate 30 years of this marvellous organization. Rinkoo Ramchandani’s technical wizardry and the hard work of the WiPS team gave us a party to remember as a rip-roaring success that connected WiPS members from across the globe with us all in Hong Kong: 29 spirited women, 8 from 6 different overseas countries!

Jazzy music and a rolling slide show of some early WiPS photos and the present and past Imprint covers opened the party, and we settled down to inspiring remarks from Suzanne Andrews, a champagne toast and then to excerpts from the stunning works of Dimple Shah and Maureen Tai, performed impeccably by Susan Lavender. Mary-Jane Newton and Bhavani Krishnamurthy followed, delighting us with their poems.

It was then time to let loose and have some fun. We launched into The Quiz – a WiPS tradition, reworked for Zoom – having an absolute ball as our competitive ladies’ hands shot up, we danced in our seats, and argued playfully over who got there first, finishing with an uproarious tongue-twister.

A short break while screening slides of the artwork in this year’s Imprint was followed with Carol Dyer discussing our new-look Imprint, thanking everyone involved in its production and reminding us to get our orders in! She then gave us the deadline for Imprint 21 (April 30 in case you want to start scribbling) and asked the fiction writers and artists to step forward and share their talent (again, time to sharpen those nibs)!

Susan Lavender returned to the stage to thrill us once more with an energetic performance of Jennifer Eagleton’s sparkling piece on life with corona – never has a virus sounded so attractive! Demonstrating her acting prowess, Susan quickly changed tack to move us with part of Sarah Merrill Mowat’s evocative story, also about Covid. Shikha Lamba and Elizabeth Vongsaravanh completed this section with their poignantly lovely verse. We had laughed, cried (well, I had) and we were about to cry some more as the party was coming to an end – but not before our Quiz winners were announced. After a nail-biting tie-breaker, Jennifer Eagleton triumphed, with Sarah Brennan hard on her heels, and runner up prizes for Robyn Flemming, Ritu Hemnani and Sue Dockstader.

We finished with a poll on future activities and on the highest of notes, as Sarah Brennan gave a moving vote of thanks, and we toasted the success of IMPRINT 20 and this amazing group of talented women.

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Our next steps: thank you for your feedback on what events you’d like to see more of in 2022. We’ve heard you! And we’re excited to announce that we will be re-launching the writing workshop. In addition, we will arrange a book club again! We’ve also started planning a couple of other events including an author talk as well as smaller discussion groups.

We do need a little more time to iron out some of these details, so stay tuned for more information in the next few weeks! And while face to face is always a wonderful way to connect with each other, we were very excited to have our overseas members participate in the Imprint launch by Zoom and hope to see more of you in the coming virtual events as well. And to our Hong Kong friends, we know you’re not able to go out much right now, so we will do our best to offer some fun distractions to you.