Image demonstrating Celebrating inspirational women in Northumberland

Celebrating inspirational women in Northumberland

Stories of inspirational women from across Northumberland are being shared to mark International Women’s Day 2020 through creative writing and artwork by schoolchildren.

Northumberland County Council launched an initiative in January inviting schools to take part in creative writing and art competitions, focusing on gender equality.

There were several competitions on offer, inviting schools to create artwork, write short stories and poetry, and submit ideas for a performing arts bid for the chance to win cash prizes. There were several age categories and winning schools were invited to showcase their entries at a celebration event at St Mary’s Church in Morpeth today (6th March 2020).

For the first time ever, the council also hosted Northumberland’s Inspirational Young Women Awards, for young women under the age of 25 who make an outstanding contribution to residents and/or the county.

The 2020 theme for International Women’s Day campaign is #EachForEqual - promoting development towards a gender-equal world. The theme aims to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions and celebrate women’s achievements.

Cllr Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism at Northumberland County Council, said: “This has been an excellent opportunity for the young people of Northumberland to celebrate remarkable women within our community as part of creative and cultural competitions.”

Winning and shortlisted pupils and schools were invited to showcase their creations at the celebration event in Morpeth where inspirational talks were held by the founder of Emily Inspires Penni Blythe, along with model, dancer and activist Kate Stanforth.

Winners included pupils from Ponteland High School, St Mary’s RC First School in Hexham, Corbridge Middle School, The King Edward VI School and Chantry Middle School in Morpeth.

Cllr Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, said: “It’s really important for us to raise awareness of the issue of gender equality with young people in schools, and it is fantastic to see work of such a high calibre entered into these competitions, particularly as this is the first time we have run an initiative quite like this in Northumberland.”

Penni Blyth added: “Thinking of the competition entries celebrating women and girls of Northumberland, they are incredibly inspiring. They show what a rich place Northumberland is in the terms of girls and women who impact society. I was involved in judging the Art entries. It was truly difficult to select a winner and we finally chose on the basis of one telling a story of the past and present, through a variety of women. Some of the pieces were really thought-provoking, and all the entries were excellent.”

Kate Stanforth, from Stocksfield, was proud to announce winners of Northumberland’s Inspirational Young Women Awards; Chloe Hutchinson, Caren hope, Ava Doyle, Rosie Bell and overall winner Rayer Waddell, and said: "Northumberland is full of inspirational women and it was a privilege to hear their stories from those who have nominated them for this award. I am proud to live in a county which is both supporting and encouraging the next generation of young women who are dedicated to shaping the future of this county."

Speaking of the event, Penni Blythe said: “It’s particularly gratifying to be marking International Women’s Day in St Mary’s Church, the church of Emily Davison’s family and in whose graveyard she is buried. As ever we’ve got a wide range of ages and backgrounds thinking about gender equality. The world is in good hands when we look at how energetically our young people are contributing to the future. We should be rightly proud of them. Emily Wilding Davison certainly would be.”  
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