WOMEN in Swindon were moved to tears by speeches and songs at a centenary celebration to remember women winning the vote.

Savernake Street Social Hall was alive with suffragette history on Sunday, with speeches, craft-ism tables with postcards to colour in, WSPU-themed cupcakes, and renditions of protest songs and music performed by the Swindon Community Choir.

It was organised by the Eastcott Community Organisation and the Swindon Suffragette group to also celebrate the radical campaigning by Swindon Suffragette Edith New to win the vote in 1918.

Leah Bevan Haines, organiser of the day, told the Adver: “Edith was known for the three things, she was one of the first people to chain her self to railings, she was the first person to throw rocks through Downing Street windows, and the first to go on hunger strike in Scotland, so she was pretty up there.

“There are still so many women’s right to fight for. It’s too easy to think ‘oh the votes been won that’s all history’, there are things you can take from Edith’s history and her story to inspire you now.

“We’d like the young girls here to think that their voice and votes do matter and there are issues that are important to me now.

“Some of the kids have talked about sexism in sport, women’s football not getting the same coverage that men’s does, and we’re saying if that’s your issue if that’s your issue then fight for that.

“So use your voice and claim your power by going to marches and protests, writing letters, petitions. Campaign in what ever way suits you but make sure your voice is heard. Go out and make a difference.”

Kate Willoughby, an actor and writer who campaigns on women's issues with the #emilymatters hashtag travelled Swindon to read extracts from Emily Davison's writings in-character. She told the Adver: "It was a very educational, entertaining and empowering day. It was a pleasure to be part of it and great work for Leah and the Eastcot Community organisation. To be able to share Emily Davison's speech from my play For Freedom's Cause was a real privilege.

"It was something at times which was difficult to hear, it was about bringing the past and looking to the future, which was what the whole event was all about."

Swindon Community Choir also kept the message relevant for today and sang the song Quiet by MILCK, which became the anthem of the Women’s March on Washington in 2017.

Linda Leah, lead at the Swindon Community Choir for the day, said: “We just picked up the song and ran with it. It’s still very much an issue today. The fight hasn’t been won. It can all be taken away so easily, and take a lot of steps backwards, which is what we’re seeing happen.”

The Swindon Suffragette group is following up the event with a talk by local historian Frances Bevan on Edith New and her campaign for Votes for Women, sharing photographs, newspaper articles, and universal women’s suffrage with the passing of the Equal Franchise Act in 1928.