The women of South Ribble came out in force today to celebrate 100 years since women won the right to vote.
More than 100 men and women, many dressed as suffragettes or wearing the distinctive suffragist colours of purple and green, crowded into St Andrew’s Church, Leyland, for the “Grand Suffragist Soiree and Tea Party”.
Speaker Helen Howell told the inspirational stories of local women who went on hunger strike after being imprisoned for their activism, including Preston’s Edith Rigby.
Edith was incarcerated after several acts of arson, including famously burning down the home of Lord Leverhulme on the West Pennine Moors.
The incredible plight of the suffragettes was also brought to life through dance by the AbouTime Dance Company, in a rousing performance.
Mayoress of South Ribble, Carole Titherington, who hosted the event, said: “We’ve had a wonderful time today. Lots of people have dressed in period dress. We had dancing, we had singing, and we had a wonderful speech from Helen Howell in which we learnt about local women who were involved in the suffragist movement.
“It’s important to keep the ethos of what these women were about alive, because although they made sacrifices and achieved a lot we, still have a long way to go. I hope it’s not going to be 100 years before we’re all equal – really equal.”
After the event, the congregation made their way back to South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre for tea, cake and more singing.
Members of Hutton and Howick Women’s Institute, founded by Preston’s most famous suffragette Edith Rigby, came along, carrying placards and wearing sashes bearing the slogan “Votes for Women”.
Member Judith Beeston, said: “We’re here to celebrate and to bring to everyone’s attention the life of Edith Rigby, who was a truly wonderful woman who did so much for the women of Preston.
“Events like these are so important. Young women today must vote because you will only improve working conditions for women if you pass legislation. And who do you need to pass the legislation? You need women! Don’t leave it all to the men!”