The great grandson of fiery suffragette Alice Hawkins who has succeeded in erecting a statue of her in her home town has sent a rallying call to Edinburgh to back the Elsie statue campaign.
Peter Barratt proudly watched as the 7ft bronze sculpture of one of the leading lights of the suffragette movement, who was jailed five times during her struggle to achieve equality, was unveiled in Leicester’s Market Square in February.
A co-campaigner in the bid to raise money for the statue, Peter has urged the people of Edinburgh to recognise the importance of raising physical icons of historic women in our public places.
He said: “The ratio of female to male statues is woefully low and yet there are women in our nation’s history that gave so much for the rights we have today. Women such as Elsie Inglis – they did so much themselves.
“I think the statue has become an icon for young people in society and through seeing the statue and enquiring further I think they begin to look deeper into what those women did and they can relate it to the rights they’re still campaigning for today.”
Peter started trying to raise funds and hit the jackpot when a local businessman contacted him offering to pay for the statue in full.
“Suddenly everything came into place. We had secured the funds and the council stepped in to organise the statue commission, design and said they would sort out the plinth and maintain the statue going forward.”
It was one of only three suffrage statues to be unveiled this year and the first.
The Edinburgh Evening News campaign to honour one of Edinburgh’s most prominent war heroes and address the imbalance of women commemorated in sculpture on the streets of the city was launched last year.
With the support of Mercat Tours and Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council we aim to secure funding for a statue of medical pioneer and advocate of women’s rights Dr Elsie Inglis.
Peter’s daughter Kate, who lives in the Edinburgh, said that if her great great grandmother’s legacy is publicly recognised, so should Elsie’s.
“Alice Hawkins was a working class factory worker and Elsie Inglis a middle-class doctor. They were two women at opposite ends of the UK who stood united for a common cause. They both faced the same struggles and injustices. Why shouldn’t there be a statue of Elsie? And so we owe it to Elsie and Alice to keep their stories alive and inspire others to speak out against discrimination.”
Peter, who is bringing to Edinburgh this year a Fringe show at the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, telling his account of the inspiring life of his great grandmother, said Alice met with an Edinburgh deputation of Newhaven fisherwomen in 1913 who were to meet cabinet minister Lloyd George.”
His show, from August 13-17 will give an insight into the character and mind-set of his great grandmother and the trials and challenges of life as a suffragette.
With oral history passed down over the generations, memorabilia and research material, he hopes to deliver a stirring and passionate account of Alice’s fight for ‘the vote’.