Hundreds of women joined local celebrations, held to mark one hundred years since women won the right to vote in Great Britain.
The women, dressed as suffragists and suffragettes in white, purple and green, wearing flowered hats, with sashes draped over their shoulders, assembled in Warrior Square Gardens, St Leonards on Sea last Saturday morning (June 23).
Organiser of the event, Ann Kramer of Women’s Voice says women of all ages, with children and male supporters, came together to mark this significant landmark in women’s long fight for their rights, adding: “Having sung a rousing version of ‘Rise Up Women’, the women’s procession moved off. A huge banner, created for the occasion by local women and designed by artist Lorna Vahey headed the procession. Other banners, placards and posters were carried or on display.
“The procession proceeded along the promenade towards Hastings, passing living statues of Barbara Bodichon, Elsie Bowerman, Muriel Matters and Sophie Deepal Singh; all of whom played a key part in the local and national suffrage campaign.
“Hastings’ famous trolleybus, decorated for the occasion, carrying suffragette passengers, brought up the rear.”
The colourful, dramatic procession, stopped to sing near the pier and in the town centre. The women, enthusiastically applauded by passers-by, then entered St Mary in the Castle for refreshments and an afternoon of events.
Hastings Women’s Voice massed women’s choir consisting of 100 voices for 100 years, conducted by Debbie Warren, sang songs of suffrage, including ‘March of the Women’, the suffragette anthem composed by Ethel Smyth in 1911.
Suzy Harvey sang a solo while playing a ukulele. Actors Eleanor Stourton and Sabina Arthur performed ‘Phenomenal Women’, a devised piece celebrating inspirational women of the last 100 years, including Emmeline Pankhurst, and Malala Yousafzai.
A video was shown of the Hastings Buddy Refugee scheme during the afternoon,
The day concluded with local art students using spoken word and images to portray images of women.
Ann said: ‘It was a simply wonderful day and a fitting way to honour past suffragists and suffragettes.
“We were thrilled to see just how many women took part and how much effort they put into creating beautiful costumes, rehearsing songs, and making placards.
“The event clearly struck a chord; it was more successful than we could ever have imagined.
“Many women said how moved they were by taking part in the event; we are delighted by its success.”
For more information visit: www.womens-voice.org.uk
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