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International Women’s Day in Sheffield

March 8, 2015

My good friend Helen W asked me to join her on a Sheffield Boost Walk on a Sunday morning. Anyone who knows me, will tell you this is a bold ask, but also that if I was going to drag myself out of the house on a Sunday morning for anything, then probably a walk about Suffragettes in Sheffield would do it.

IMG_3277Local Historian and generally interesting woman Ann Beedham led the talk beginning at the Old Queens Head on Pond Hill and wandering the streets of the city centre describing the exciting part the city’s women have always played in campaigning for social justice improvements.

So what, I hear you say… So now we’ve moved to a new city (again), I think it’s time to add another list to this site.  Watch this space for a list celebrating the contribution women have made to Sheffield. First I’m off to twitter to crowd source the list.



New Year’s Honours 2013

January 8, 2013

Apologies for the delay in writing this post, I guess this gets harder the longer it is since I lived in Brum. Nevertheless, I’m still keen to keep up with the posts that celebrate the passion and commitment constantly shown by ordinary people. Yes, it’s flawed, but preparing these posts always helps me understand a little bit more about who makes our city tick. So I’ve found 7 women this year, that’s looking slightly more than usual. I had the pleasure of meeting Christine a few years ago – an inspirational leader, who I wish I’d worked with. Meanwhile, recognition for the work of the Chief Exec of St Paul’s in Balsall Heath, they often looked after my daughter so I could work through the school holidays – St Paul’s CDT is one of those organisations that is right under the skin of its community – and has been for decades. It has the added attraction of being home to a neat inner city farm.

Congratulations and thank you to all of you.

Dame Christine BRADDOCK, CBE

Principal and Chief Executive, Birmingham Metropolitan College. For services to Further Education.

Miss Cherry Alexander MBE

Head of International Competition, UK Athletics. For service to Sport.

Dr Anita Halliday MBE

Chief Executive, St Paul’s Community Development Trust. For services to the community in Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

Mrs Kim Popratnjak MBE

Principal, North Birmingham Academy. For services to Education.

Mrs Yvonne Zena Stone MBE

Senior Officer, Criminal Investigation, Birmingham, HM Revenue and Customs. For services to Prevention of Smuggling and Asset Recovery.

Ms Rose Gabrielle Cooke-Coton BEM

For services to the community in Masefield, Birmingham.

Ms Kim Victoria Douglas BEM

Chair, George Coller Memorial Fund. For services to People with Asthma.

Click here for the full list – still on a pdf  (grrr).

Celebrating Women of Some Importance

September 10, 2012

The site received a visitor today referred from here:, a site Celebrating Women of Some Importance. A fantastic site, full of marvellous women over the years.  It’s brief is geographically far broader than this one, focussing worldwide.  The blogger has an enticing “about” section:

Welcome to my ethereal little Adelaidean villa, dearest visitor and possibly enlightened being. You may call me Milady Twaklin or Madame Adelaidezone, should you so desire. Would you like some tea? As you may be aware, my work as the editor-in-chief of “Adelaide Adagia” – Australia’s finest and most enlightened news service – means that I am frequently referred to as the Muse of the World. I am also the chief executive officer of the International Training Centre for the Harmonious Interplay of Beauty, Understanding and Magnificence, global campaign manager for the Mozarty Party, and president-elect of the Australian Political Reform Club. Please do inform me about how you are attempting to make the world a better place than it would be without you.

I love it.  Thanks for the link to this site. May much traffic flow between us.

Gladys Morgan (Chippy resident) becomes Lisa Daniels (Hollywood Star)

July 8, 2012

To my huge delight, my daughter decided to go in to her Y7 school history day dressed as one of our Brimmin.  Gladys Morgan grew up in a Fish n Chip shop and died a Hollywood film star.  The Birmingham Mail wrote an obituary with some great photos.

The text below is the fact sheet my daughter prepared as part of her homework for the day.  Thanks Pippa, you are now officially a blogger…

Gladys Morgan Pageant Profile:

Name/s: Gladys Morgan/ Lisa Daniels/ Lizbeth Keen.

Experience: Fish and chip assistant. The official Miss Birmingham. Dancer in Cinderella, Walt Disney Production ‘101 Dalmatians Hollywood movie star.’

Biography: The star to be, who was crowned Miss Birmingham in 1944, lived the American dream becoming a TV and movie star!

Lisa Daniels was born Gladys Morgan in the backroom of the fish and chip shop, which her mother May had rented in 1929 after winning cash in a newspaper competition. Gladys’ niece, Jean Bytheway, who was born in the same bed nine years later, told the Birmingham Mail her aunt had lived an ‘extraordinary and colourful life’ which was down to her desire and ambition.

She was always involved in singing and dancing. She was so talented and beautiful.Then at 13 Gladys was crowned Miss Birmingham, the family kept  the photographs and the silver cup she won. Her Grandmother sent her to London to take part in the musicals and shows. This is where she got noticed my an employer and got her big break!

When she was 14 she was a dancer in Cinderella at the Alexandra Theatre and when Noele Gordon, who was in Crossroads, fell ill, her aunt Lisa stepped in as Cinderella. When the Pageant research team spoke to  Mrs Bytheway she said,: “She was so beautiful, photographs do not do her justice, she had perfect skin and teeth, and she was such a good person, she was practically perfect.” We think this captures the essence of why she is in the final perfectly!Gladys became best known as Lisa Daniels, was friends with some of the biggest names of the big screen. She was married to the late film executive Roger Hill Lewis – producer of the Shaft series in the 1970s.

Later on she played a girl who was murdered by Jack the Ripper in The Man In the Attic. She also had a small part in The Virgin Queen, in which Joan Collins had the lead, and she was the voice of Perdita in the first ever version of Walt Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

The glamorous couple, who later separated, had three children together, all now working in the Hollywood music business.Lisa’s (Gladys’) extraordinary life ended in early 2010 when she passed away peacefully in an LA retirement village at the age of 79.

Enjoy her pageant performance!

2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours

June 17, 2012

In keeping with what I can now call tradition, I am happy to share with you the women of Birmingham who have been honoured by HM in this her Jubilee year.

Dame Professor Julia King CBE

Vice-Chancellor, Aston University. For services to Higher Education and Technology.

Mrs Gillian Ball OBE

Finance Director, University of Birmingham. For services to Higher Education.

Dr Lorna Cork MBE

Creator and Leader, Yes We Will Leadership and Achievement Programme, Birmingham. For services to Education.

Ms Ulite Malcolm MBE

Chaplaincy Volunteer, HM Prison Birmingham. For services to Prisoners and their Families.

This is the year Cameron has re-introduced the British Empire Medal (BEM) awarded locally by the odd County Lord Lieutenant, to recognise volunteering.  Well, not one for a Birmingham woman.  I’ve trawled through all 121 pages of honours and this is all I can spot – 4 women. awarded.


Samantha Brick, who cares?

April 5, 2012

Who really cares about Samantha Brick’s vain article in the Daily Mail earlier this week? Not me.  In fact I was doing really well at avoiding the whole sorry affair of Samantha and her over-inflated sense of self importance.  Until somebody sent me a tweet that claimed her a brummie.

A quick bit of research backed this up: not just Birmingham, but she was born and raised in the neighbouring suburb to mine – Kings Heath.  So what choice did I have but to add her to the brimmin listing. In what way is she brilliant I hear you cry.  Well, I never claimed to support or like the actions of all of the women on this list.  The point is that is recognises the contribution made by the women of our city.  Any woman who can write an article and get so much international attention is getting something right.  I see plenty of nonsense on the internet every day, but rarely does it catch on like this.

My challenge to Samantha now is to find something constructive to say.  Something that might improve the economic and social status  of women? Something that might illustrate more depth of thought than she has managed so far? Something that will turn her from laughing stock to leader?  I’m not holding my breath, but meanwhile she’s into our #brimmin list at number 107 (for now).  If she engages in more outlandish trolling I may make her the first woman to be removed…

Head Mistresses at the King Edward VI Foundation

February 23, 2012

It was a rare thing in 1883 to find women teaching in schools never mind working in such a senior role as leading one. So it is appropriate for us to give all those women who did that the hat tip on this site.  More precisely, this is a list of the 25 women who have already headed up one of the schools in the King Edward VI Foundation in Birmingham.  So far all have worked at the girls only schools.  I understand Handsworth, Camp Hill and Five Ways are all due new Heads this autumn, so maybe we will see a female head for boys in a foundation school for the first time in the schools’ history.

So, this post really is no more than though than an acknowledgment.  To begin with I haven’t given any of the women a cursory hyperlink to another part of the internet.  I will do my best to come to that, as my initial research has shown that these women were powerful, determined and able to achieve success in a very much harder world than today.

So, starting with King Edward VI High School for Girls, the only independent girls school in the foundation:

Miss Edith Elizabeth Maria Creak    1883 – 1910
Miss Edith Helen Major                    1911 – 1925
Miss Lilian K Barrie 1925 – 1941
Dr Mary Sybil Smith 1941 – 1953
Miss Sylvia Lloyd Williams 1953 – 1964
Miss Jean RF Wilkes 1964 – 1977
Miss Ena Evans 1977 – 1996
Sarah Evans (Principal) 1996 – current

Next up Handsworth, the first of two all girls selective voluntary-aided schools in the group.  Interestingly, their accounts for y/e March 2010 show turnover of more than £4m, mostly public funding, yet no formal requirement for them to produce audited accounts. If anyone can explain why, I’d be pleased to understand that better.  But I digress:

Margaret Nimmo                             1883 – 1915
Miss Brew 1915 – 1942
Miss Bamforth 1942 – 1963
Miss Fox 1963 – 1966
Miss Reid 1966 – 1971
Miss Sergeant 1971 – 1989
Miss Inch 1989 – 2012

Finally my alma mater, KE VI Camp Hill School for Girls:

Miss Harriet Grundy                        1883 – 1903
Miss Helen Sullivan 1903 – 1913
Miss Mary Keen 1913 – 1943
Miss Muriel Mandeville 1943 – 1962
Miss Joan Miller 1963 – 1978
Miss Ann Percival 1979 – 1992
Mrs Joan Fisher 1992 – 2003
Mrs Dru James 2003 – 2012

So there we are.  Three all-girl selective schools, producing hundreds of highly educated, impressive women in Birmingham every year and the 23 women who have led them for nearly 130 years.

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