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Celebrating International Women's Day in King's Lynn and West Norfolk

International Women's Day is celebrated globally and is a focal point in the women's rights movement, we're also celebrating here in West Norfolk.

On Wednesday, March 8 many are choosing to celebrate the day, or holding events to mark it.

Inspirational speakers will be gathering in Downham's Town Hall on Friday, March 17 to raise money for the Pandora Project, a charity that helps vulnerable people in Norfolk.

The Lynn News spoke to women across West Norfolk (62830212)
The Lynn News spoke to women across West Norfolk (62830212)

The evening, named "Celebrating Midlife" starts at 7pm in the Assembly Room and will include 5 speakers who will all talk on a subject they are passionate about.

Fitness and wellbeing coach Frances Rayner, Kath Sansom, who started the Sling The Mesh Campagain, Lisa Jarratt from Downham Ladies Fitness, Kim Cross, Partner at Vine Law and Owner of the Mind Coach Nicky Roger will all be giving talks.

Refreshments will be provided by Love Downham and tickets are priced at £10 and a raffle will be held on the night.

We've spoken to just a handful of some inspirational women across the borough where they shared their advice and spoke about women they find inspirational:

Cllr Lesley Bambridge, Mayor of King's Lynn and West Norfolk:

West Norfolk mayor Lesley Bambridge
West Norfolk mayor Lesley Bambridge

Cllr Bambridge, whose recently found out she's the 13th female mayor in Lynn, said: "I tell women that they are as good as any man.

"I don't believe in 'you can be whatever you want to be' as you need skills and qualifications to achieve some roles in life.

"But I do think qualities like determination, confidence, resourcefulness, awareness and positivity all help to get more out of life."

She went on to say: "Growing up I admired women in politics, Margaret Thatcher, Shirley Williams and Barbara Castle the the first woman MP Nancy Astor.

"Women who were scientists like Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin.

"Florence Nightingale, for her bravery and determination, writers like Virginia Woolf, Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing, Ann Tyler.

"The Suffragettes for fighting for women's votes, the Princess of Wales for her poise and elegance but also women I come across who run local businesses, who set examples for their tenacity, who help other both in paid jobs but also as volunteers.

"I've just found out I am the 13th female mayor out of 820."

Jo Rust, independent councillor, trades secretary and Save The QEH campaign lead:

Cllr Jo Rust
Cllr Jo Rust

We asked Jo what her advice would be for girls and women who want to get into politics and/or campaigning.

She said: "I think that getting into politics or campaigning can, for women, still be daunting. So it’s important that whatever it is that you do, you feel strongly about it.

"As that belief will give you the determination to carry on; sometimes in the face of adversity or hostility.

"You do need perseverance and resilience to stay in for the long term. If you’re in any sort of public group and you make a mistake, it will be picked up on and referred to forever after, by some.

"But remain true to what you believe in, accept you’ll make mistakes, but learn from them and take breaks from social media, which can be pretty hurtful.

"Meet real people in the campaigning or political work that you do and maintain those human links.

"Try and retain a sense of humour! If you lose your passion for the subject, move on.

"I can respect women who stand out in those areas that remain male dominated, such as politics and the trade union movement.

"But those who have actually inspired me are those who paved the way for other woman.

"When I imagine the courage it took for Emma Patterson to walk into the TUC congress in 1875 as the first female delegate, it makes nerves I’ve felt pale into insignificance.

"But in society today, we’ve seen people like Diane Abbott face vilification, abuse and discrimination yet people ignore the fact she was a trail blazer as the first black female MP and is the longest serving black MP in the House of Commons.

"And locally we have women that take action that inspires me, such as Amy, who on Wednesday 1st March held a picket line outside her school.

"Amy has led the way in her school. And of course, the women in my family inspire me. My mum Jean, mother in law Chris and step mum Joan.

"They’ve all journeyed through a time which as seen incredible changes for women, and they’re still going. Now my wonderful daughters, Holly and Emilia, and my amazing granddaughter Jemima, can take up the baton.

"International Women’s Day is hugely important to me because it reminds me and others, of what women have achieved, how far we have travelled, but how much further we have to go before we have full equality.

"Women still don’t receive equal pay. We measure our pay in April and it’s reported later in the year.

"International Women’s Day provides the focus to be on women and look at these ongoing disparities. The fact that women still face dismissal from work for being pregnant is an absolute outrage, yet despite laws against it, it still happens.

"I will continue to fight for full equality, for all underrepresented groups."

Jodie Hopkins, King's Lynn Ladies Football Captain and Linnets in the Community Manager:

Jodie Hopkins, Linnets in the Community Manager and captain of the Lynn Ladies team
Jodie Hopkins, Linnets in the Community Manager and captain of the Lynn Ladies team

Jodie's advice for girls and women wanting to get into football is: "If you want to get involved, join a local club, have a go, don't be scared there's nothing there to stop you, there's no barriers you can always overcome everything that you try to achieve."

She also spoke about her role models in football, she said: "Obviously a main one is Leah Williamson the England Ladies Captain, but actually the whole of the England ladies team, I think the progress they've made over the last few years has been a huge inspiration and have been role models to the up and coming generation for what they've achieved, what they're achieving and what they go onto achieve and will aspire people to get involved in football."

"To us, International Women's Day means everyone across the world and across the country get involved and it's a great opportunity for women and girls to take part in the international football opportunities."

Mandy Baxter, Director of Boxes of Hope:

Mandy Baxter, director of charity, Boxes of Hope
Mandy Baxter, director of charity, Boxes of Hope

Mandy started the charity Boxes of Hope from her dining room table and has helped thousands of people effected by the war in Ukraine, either here in the UK, or in Ukraine.

She said: "I have always been inspired by Civil Rights Action especially when it comes to injustice and fighting for freedom.

"Many years ago a simple soul named Rosa Parks decided enough was enough and refused to move from a seat on a bus to allow a white person to sit down instead of her.

"This action, simple as it may sound, sparked of a movement reaction in Montgomery, Alabama that has gone down in Civil Rights history. She made change happen. She was brave and determined to do something about her inner voice that said 'enough was enough'.

"To contribute to change I feel we must 'do' and lead by example.

"It is easy for us all to have opinions, moan and groan and say what we would do if we were in that position but how many of us actually do something about what is making us feel negative and upset?

"We all need to open our eyes and really see what simple acts of change we can all achieve.

"By looking at life with a simpler and more kinder view maybe each of us can make a huge change, like Rosa Parks did and the world will be a better place."

Helen Gilbert, Project Manager for King's Lynn Foodbank:

Helen Gilbert (left) the project manager of King's Lynn foodbank
Helen Gilbert (left) the project manager of King's Lynn foodbank

Helen says that her role at the foodbank requires honesty and integrity as well as being able to listen and communicate well.

She said: "So many women inspire me! Ruth Bader Ginsburg's lifetime of service to upholding US law and supporting gender equality was just incredible, and I like her statement 'Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.'

"Malala Yousafzai's quiet, yet powerful work raising the importance of education for women and girls worldwide is very inspirational. We often take education for granted in this country, but its importance cannot be underestimated both in the UK and around the world.

Her advice for younger women is: "Be patient, don't rush - but while you're being patient, listen and learn all you can so you can put it into action when your opportunities come, and they will come."

"It's difficult to quantify how I make a difference specifically to women in the community, but a large proportion of the people that the Foodbank provides parcels to are women and families. We make sure that we signpost people to relevant information and organisations which may be able to help them with their specific struggles.

"Part of my role now is to speak to those in decision-making roles about the reasons that people are struggling - this can often be raising awareness of the real problems caused by limited childcare facilities and public transportation which means that women in particular struggle to find work which will fit around school or nursery hours."

Norfolk Police:

Superintendent Sonia Humphreys said: “International Women’s Day gives us the chance to celebrate the achievements of women which I witness regularly at Norfolk Constabulary. Every day is different and as a police officer, I have enjoyed a wide variety of roles in various different departments.

"The police provides multiple opportunities for career progression as well as leadership responsibilities which allow women to reach their full potential. I would urge anyone looking for a rewarding and diverse career to consider policing. Your actions will directly help to protect our communities and some of the most vulnerable people from harm.”

Famous women in present and past History in West Norfolk:

Weather presenter Lucy Verasamy
Weather presenter Lucy Verasamy
  • Florence Green (1901–2012), last known female veteran of World War I
  • Mrs Bernard Beere (1851–1915), actress
  • Victoria Bush (born 1978), actress and comedian
  • Zara Dawson (born 1983), actress and television presenter
  • Miranda Raison (born 1977), actress
  • Lucy Verasamy (born 1980), weather forecaster, currently employed by ITV National Weather
  • Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy (1908–1993), founder of King’s Lynn Festival of Arts
  • Emily Bell (born 1965), journalist and academic
  • Frances Burney (1752–1840), novelist and diarist
  • Sarah Burney (1772–1844), novelist
  • Suzanne Francis (born 1959), scifi and fantasy author
  • Clara Dow (1883–1969), operatic soprano
  • Margery Kempe (c. 1373 – after 1438), mystic and pilgrim, author of possibly the earliest autobiography in English
  • Kathryn Johnson (field hockey Britain) (born 1967), Olympic field hockey player
  • Barbara Parker (athlete), Olympic track and field athlete
  • Lucy Pearson (cricketer), test cricketer
  • Helen Slatter (born 1970), Olympic swimmer

Councillors speak about their inspirational women:

Cllr Stuart Dark, leader of West Norfolk Council:

Cllr Stuart Dark, Leader of West Norfolk Council
Cllr Stuart Dark, Leader of West Norfolk Council

"Two Queens spanning two thousand years have inspired me.

"Boudica, Queen of the Iceni led Britons in the major uprising verus Roman rule and is considered a lightning rod for the image of British nationality and patriotism.

"There is a clear iceni link to Shenttisham and West Norfolk through the torcs showing women have been leading and smashing it round here for 2000 plus years.

"The second one being the late Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, the country's longest serving monarch with more than 70 years of service, duty and dignity and clear links to West Norfolk"

James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk:

James Wild at Westminster Hall
James Wild at Westminster Hall

"With the horrors of war in Europe having returned, I will be thinking of the heroic actions taken by Norfolk’s Edith Cavell in the First World War.

"She cared for the injured and helped soldiers escape and was executed by German soldiers as a result."

Special report by Molly Nicholas, Jenny Beake and Lucy Carter

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