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Honour to be part of celebration

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery  is seen laying flowers on Emily Davison's grave as part of a service at St Mary's Church, Morpeth, for a previous International Women's Day.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery is seen laying flowers on Emily Davison's grave as part of a service at St Mary's Church, Morpeth, for a previous International Women's Day.

I was privileged to attend an event at Morpeth on Saturday linked to International Women’s Day and the centenary of women being allowed to vote for the first time in this country when a focal point of both events was our own Emily Davison.

We all know the story of Emily and the bravery, courage and determination she showed to follow her commitment to winning votes for women in Edwardian Britain.

I was humbled to be given the chance to address Saturday’s Suffragette Tearoom and Market, when I was able to make what I believe were some important points, the first being that we should never forget the part Emily played in furthering the cause of women’s equality.

As a country we have come so far over the past century, but there is still so much more to do to support and commit to making sure women of all ages enjoy equal opportunities with men, as well as being free from abuse of any form.

That linked me into the second important point I wanted to make at an event that was also set up to raise some money for Oxfam. That decision had been made before the charity hit the headlines because of the appalling behaviour of some of its workers towards the very vulnerable people they were supposed to be supporting.

Credit to the organisers of Saturday’s event in making the decision to continue with their support for Oxfam, rather than withdrawing because of the behaviour of a small minority of its workers.

Of course, what they did is unforgivable, but that should not tarnish the reputation of an organisation which has done so much wonderful work in all corners of the world.

Oxfam, along with the other charities named in this abuse scandal, has to put its house in order and make sure these incidents never ever happen again.

But I hope people look beyond what a few abhorrent individuals have done and continue to support an organisation which so very many vulnerable people have reason to be grateful to.