Women's rights heroine gets a headstone at last
A memorial service and dedication of a headstone has been held for a suffragette jailed five times during her campaign to win the vote for women.
Alice Hawkins died in 1946 and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave at Leicester's Welford Road cemetery.
On Saturday, her family and friends, including two of her granddaughters, attended a memorial service at the cemetery.
Her great-grandson, Peter Barratt, said the whole family was "immensely proud" of her actions.
SUNDAY OPEN BUFFET EAT AS MUCH AS U CAN £6.99PP & A LA CARTE...View details
Come & Try our Delicious Menu with an Amazing 15% off all Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Terms: Lebanese & Mediterenian Menu With An Amazing 15% Off Your Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Contact: 0116 2169184
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Mr Barratt said: "Anyone who is buried in a common grave cannot have a headstone erected in their memory, except the last person to be buried there, as Alice was.
"As Alice was the last one buried there, my grandfather Alfred Hawkins, bought the cemetery plot and hence was able to erect a headstone, but never did. We do not know why.
"So, for the past 65 years, Alice Hawkins, a prominent figure in the social and political history of Leicester, has had nothing to remember her by at Welford Road except a patch of grass.
"This year, the descendants of Alice decided to put that right by commissioning a headstone in her memory.
"The event went brilliantly. There was a turnout of about 45 descendants and guests, including two of Alice's granddaughters, Madge Kemp and Joan Nelson, from Mansfield.
"They led the procession to Alice's grave before stepping forward to place Alice's own suffragette sash on her headstone as a mark or remembrance for her fight for women's rights.
"The Red Leicester choir sang Nana Was a Suffragette, which was appropriate to the two ladies."
Mrs Hawkins, a mother of six who worked as a shoe machinist, was born in 1863.
She joined the Women's Social and Political Union and spoke at factory gates, market squares and village greens in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire about rights for women.
She was jailed five times and spent time in Leicester and Holloway jails.
Mr Barratt said: "The service really went well and everyone said how moving it had been. It was a celebration of her life."
The Rev Mandy Ford, area dean of Leicester, who conducted the service, said: "It is a time to celebrate her life – she was an inspiration to others and she fought for justice for all.
"It is a particularly timely reminder when women all over the world are fighting for equality and to play a part in the democratic process. It was a great privilege to be asked to be there."
The guest of honour was the deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Mustafa Kamal.
A campaign has been launched to build a statue in memory of Alice at Leicester Market where she delivered impassioned speeches on votes for women.