Snow fell on Crescent Gardens as dozens of women gathered to march through town and mark the centenary of the first women gaining the right to vote.
Cold hands proudly clutched at a sea of votes for women placards - each one bearing an important and powerful message. The weather paled into deep insignificance as every Harrogate school and community group taking part took time to reflect on the unimaginable suffering and sacrifices of women who fought and campaigned for the vote.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with communities across the UK in honouring the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, students from Harrogate Ladies’ College and Harrogate Grammar School joined organisations including the Harrogate and District Soroptimists to march from Crescent Gardens to the new council offices in Knapping Mount.
Residents cheered and car horns beeped their support as the march made its way through the streets of Harrogate. Organised by the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Anne Jones, everybody taking part each had very special and different reasons for proudly wearing their votes for women sashes on Tuesday morning - 100 years to the day since the Act was passed, giving women over 30 and “of property” the right to vote.
Representing Harrogate Spa Ladies, June Anstey said: “We are marching in honour of the suffragettes. The way they suffered so much but didn’t give up, it’s so admirable, and I admire people who never give up. The march draws attention to votes for women, and brings it to the fore.”
Although the event was not about party politics, there was cross-party support of the march to celebrate the progress that has been made - though there was also recognition that the fight is still ongoing.
Viviane Morris and Helen Shay from the Women’s Equality Party said: “We are carrying on where they left off.” The President of the Harrogate and District Soroptimists, Nicola Harding, said: “We are still fighting, I still can’t believe that we didn’t have the vote. The march today is a reminder that getting the vote only happened relatively recently.”
Soroptimist members Sandra Frier and Sandra Jowett said the organisation is passionate about continuing the fight for equality
Sandra Frier said: “It is important to make sure that women continue to get a better place in society - better jobs, more senior positions, and equality across the board.”
Pat Shore added: “I am a great believer in equality for all - not just women, everybody. We should be given the same opportunities, and it is important to recognise what women did 100 years ago.”
Representing RAF Menwith Hill, Josie Cullina, Sue Bell and Hellen Curtis agreed it is important to remember that this was only the start of women getting the vote, and that Harrogate should always remember the huge sacrifices made to get to the 1918 Act alone.
Harrogate Grammar School student Ellen Young carried a placard with a copy of her favourite quote from Emmeline Pankhurst printed on it - the same quote she has had pinned up on her fridge since she was four years old.
Ellen said: “I just think it’s incredibly important to remember what went before us. Being born today, we have so many privileges that we just completely take for granted, but our great grandmas would have struggled and all their work will have gone unknown, and their possessions given to their husbands.”
The Mayor said she hopes the memory of the march will always stay with those who took part.