Women from every corner of the world unite on March 8th to celebrate International Women’s Day.

As well as bringing to light much needed issues, inspirational women from nearly every hometown and city are admired to for their achievements. Staffordshire has produced its fair share of brilliant women, from entrepreneurs to politicians who refused to back down to make a difference. Gemma Walsh & Aimee Corten bring you the best of the women The Potteries should be proud of.

Vera Brittain – Feminist & Pacifist Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain was an English writer, feminist and pacifist and is one of Staffordshire’s most memorable women. Born in Newcastle-under-Lyme on the 29th December 1893, Brittain served as a nurse during WWI and documented her experiences in the well-known book Testament of Youth.

She also toured America preaching feminism and pacifism, inspiring women across the World. In her own words, “Meek wifehood is no part of my profession; I am your friend, but never your possession.”

Fanny Deakin – Politician & Campaigner

Fanny Deakin, born and raised in Silverdale, became the first women to be elected onto the Wolstanton council in 1923. From there she campaigned tirelessly for free milk for pregnant women and children under 5. She took her fight all the way to the prime minister, Ramsey McDonald – and won!! She even spent nine months in prison for providing her friend with a false alibi.

She will always be remembered for her advocacy of mother and child welfare issues which resulted in having the Fanny Deakin Maternity Hospital named after her, helping thousands of local children into the world. Although her politics divided opinion, she never gave up. Even on her death bed she apparently declared: “I don’t want any of them damn snivelling parsons praying over me.”

Anna Watkins – Gold Medal Winning Rower Anna Watkins

Leek native Anna Watkins won gold in the women’s double sculls in 2012, breaking the Olympic record and earning Leek its very own gold post-box. That was just the latest medal in her collection, including gold at the 2011 world championships.

And now, just a year after having her second son Richard, she is back on the water and becoming a voice for women in sport. “We need to support the women pioneering the way. I want to show women we’re not decrepit after having children.”

Helen Baxendale – Actress

Helen Baxendale, a Lichfield born actress, has certainly made a name for herself. She exploded into the public’s eye through the role of Dr Claire Maitland in the hospital series Cardiac Arrest, awarding her a BAFTA nomination in 1995. Baxendale’s popularity only increased as she took up a starring role in the television series Cold Feet.

However, she is no stranger to gender inequality and is not afraid to speak her mind. “They think you’re serious and intelligent if you’re a brunette with a pale complexion and a bit of hooked nose. If you’re blonde and pretty, they don’t give you that sort of part. It’s short-sighted and stupid, but that’s how it goes.”

Sarah Willingham – Entrepreneur & Dragon

Sarah Willingham, originally from Newcastle, made her name as a successful food entrepreneur Sarah Willingham and is now a much loved dragon on Dragons Den. Although she’s made it big, she never forgets her roots and says her Stoke upbringing gave her her” positive work ethic”.

Taking to Twitter this morning she said: “Today we celebrate the most inspiring women in our lives and the world”. She is also a supporter of working mums, having 4 children of her own. “There is always, always, always a way.”


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