Friday, March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD).
Northumberland County Council and Emily Inspires! – formerly the Emily Wilding Davison working group – have marked this day with a service held in St Mary’s Church, Morpeth, for the last 20 years.
This both celebrated the day and highlighted the memory of Emily Wilding Davison, the suffragette buried in St Mary’s Churchyard.
Emily Inspires! took over the sole organising of the Morpeth event last year when Northumberland County Council decided to make the celebration of IWD more of a countywide event, basing this for 2018 in Prudhoe.
The year 2018 was the centenary of the first women in the UK getting the vote.
Locally, this saw the culmination of many years of campaigning with the unveiling, on September 11, of a statue in Carlisle Park in Morpeth.
Funded by Northumberland County Council, this widely acclaimed statue represents Emily and the suffragette movement.
There was yet another event marking the (partial) suffrage centenary and the extensive role of women in World War I.
Organised by Northumberland County Council, and actively supported by Emily Inspires!, this was held in St Mary’s Church on December 14, the actual date the first women voted.
The year 2018 therefore saw three celebrations of the suffragette movement in Morpeth.
Emily Inspires!, which is the organisation now responsible for organising events around Emily and the suffragette movement in Morpeth, is represented by us. We feel it is too soon to hold yet another event in Morpeth so there will not be a service in St Mary’s this year.
We are giving thoughts to an alternative activity later in the year, either in June around the anniversary of her death, or in October, around the anniversary of her birth, and focusing this on the statue.
We recognise that some people will be disappointed in our decision.
However, these events take an enormous amount of planning and there are significant costs involved so we think it is the right thing to do.
Emily Inspires! has no regular financial backing and relies totally on donations made from time to time.
Whilst Morpeth Town Council is very supportive and contributes towards costs, we cannot rely on its generosity all of the time so making sensible decisions about the future is very important.
We know that there are often a number of other events organised around International Women’s Day, both in Morpeth and elsewhere in Northumberland and Newcastle, so the opportunity for people who want to attend an event on that day should be relatively easy.
But we do apologise to those who were expecting to be at the church on that day.
Emily Inspires! is a key partner in the Abbott Dance Theatre (https://www.facebook.com/pg/abbottdancetheatre) Deeds Not Words Dance Theatre and Community Programme, which is currently on tour in the north east and beyond.
To mark International Women’s Day there will be a performance at Newbiggin Maritime Centre involving Horton Grange Primary School, community dancers, singers and professional dancers.
Tickets are available from the centre on 01670 811951.
We will, of course, publicise future plans as soon as they are confirmed.
Chairman, Emily Inspires!