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Alice Hawkins to play part in Centenary Cities events

Published on Monday, December 18, 2017

A NATIONWIDE programme of events to mark the centenary of the first British women getting the vote will get under way next year – and Leicester is to have a key role in the celebrations.


The Government has awarded the city a grant of £189,500 that will fund a series of educational and celebratory events inspired by the life and work of Alice Hawkins – the shoe factory machinist who led the women’s suffrage movement in Leicester in the early 1900s.


Although the programme of events is still to be confirmed, the unveiling of a bronze statue of Alice Hawkins will be at the heart of the city’s celebrations.


Funded by local businessman Jamie Lewis, the 7ft-tall statue will stand on a 4ft plinth in Leicester’s new market square, close to where Alice would have addressed the crowds at the height of the suffragette movement.


Museums and schools will be involved throughout the year of celebrations, with educational activities and teaching aids linked to the women’s suffrage movement creating a lasting legacy in Leicester.


And an exhibition featuring some of Alice’s personal possessions – including her ‘Votes for Women’ sash, her hunger strike medal and her notes from Holloway jail – is also proposed.


The project to commemorate the woman who fought so hard to secure electoral reform in Britain has been driven by Alice’s great-grandson Peter Barratt and deputy city mayor and heritage champion Cllr Adam Clarke, who has welcomed the award from the Government’s ‘Centenary Cities: 100 Years of Votes for Women’ fund.


“The story of Leicester’s role in the struggle for women’s suffrage is rich, fascinating and inspiring – and the opportunity to tell this story throughout 2018 as part of Centenary Cities is very exciting indeed,” he said.


“This funding will allow us to help educate younger people about the significance of the suffrage movement, while celebrating the contribution made by a Leicester woman – Alice Hawkins – to reforming the electoral system in this country.”


Minister for Women and Equalities Anne Milton said: “A huge congratulations to Leicester, one of our ‘Centenary Cities’ that have been recognised for their proud connection to the suffrage movement.


“Less than 100 years ago, women could not vote and could not stand as candidates for Parliament. By remembering and celebrating those individuals who fought to get the right to vote we are continuing to push for all our political institutions to reflect women’s representation in society.


”Next year will be an important and exciting year across the country.”


The programme of events in Leicester is part of celebrations to mark next year’s centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and Parliament’s 'Vote 100' initiative.


The act began the reform of the electoral system in the UK and finally paved the way for equality for men and women at the ballot box.


Events are expected to take place throughout the country throughout the year, with the statue of Alice Hawkins due to be unveiled in Leicester as part of the national celebrations.