10 inspirational women from Weston and the villages you should definitely know about
PUBLISHED: 09:40 08 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:50 08 March 2017
International Women’s Day is taking place today (Wednesday) with a call to arms to create a more inclusive, gender-equal world. With that in mind, we have turned our attention to some important and prominent women with links to Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding villages.
Golden Globe winner Deborah Kerr must be one of Weston’s most famous exports. She was nominated for an Academy Award six times – more times than any actress without ever winning. Kerr, whose films include The King And I, later received an Academy Honorary Award to recognise her career.
Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence grew up in a world where equality was not assumed. After spending her early years in Weston, she moved to London to help women from poor backgrounds find work. She later became treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union – the Suffragettes – and she increased its funds and publicity several times over during the campaign to give women the vote.
Weston’s Beatrice Page did what no other British woman had done before her – she drove a tram. As men went away to fight in World War One, women took many of their jobs. Beatrice faced a lot of opposition when she took on a job traditionally only held by men, and became the country’s first female tram driver.
When war broke out in 1914, Edith Graves-Knyfton turned her attention to supporting the community in Weston. She joined the British Red Cross and set up a temporary hospital at Ashcombe House to care for wounded soldiers. Her husband died just 13 days before the fighting ended – but Edith continued to organise the Red Cross’ work in North Somerset and trained volunteer nurses during World War Two.
Ivy Millicent James
Not only did Ivy Millicent James, from Weston, fight for women’s right to vote alongside the other Suffragettes, she was also an artist. She made a-living painting postcards, most of them showing children having fun about England and Holland.
Journalist Jill Dando started her reporting career at the Weston Mercury and as a volunteer at Sunshine Hospital Radio at Weston General Hospital. She committed herself to reporting the news, and later went on to become the presenter of the BBC’s Crimewatch.
Philanthropist and religious writer Hannah More moved to Cheddar in 1785, and a cottage there is now named after her. She was instrumental in setting up 12 schools in the Mendip area, and fought for the abolition of the slave trade.
20-year-old Ruby Harrold, who lives in Langford, has already retired from gymnastics, but enjoyed a highly successful sporting career as part of the Great British women’s team. She won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and competed at the Rio Olympics.
Ten-times world darts champion Trina Gulliver, from Cheddar, really lives up to her nickname as the golden girl. She has the highest three-dart average in the Women’s World Championship, which she won from 2001-2009 and then again in 2010, 2011 and 2016.
Child actress Mandy Miller, who was born in Weston, is best-remembered for her recording of Nellie The Elephant. She had a small role in The Man In The White Suit alongside Alec Guinness and Raising A Riot with Kenneth More before taking on even greater roles and becoming a child star. Despite her early success, she chose to quit acting when she was 18.
* This year’s International Women’s Day is asking people to be #BoldForChange. Visit www.internationalwomensday.com for more information.