Statue of Alice Hawkins to be unveiled in Leicester city centre

A statue of the shoe factory machinist who fought for women’s right to vote is to be unveiled in Leicester’s new market square.

The 7ft-tall statue of Alice Hawkins – who led the women’s suffrage movement in Leicester in the early 1900s – will be unveiled on Sunday 4 February at 2pm.

Created by sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn and funded by local businessman Jamie Lewis, the statue will stand on a 4ft plinth overlooking the new market square, close to where Alice would have addressed the crowds at the height of the suffragette movement.

The statue will be unveiled as part of an afternoon of events marking the start of a year-long celebration commemorating the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 – the act that gave all men, and some women, the right to vote.

As the stage programme gets under way in the new market square at 2pm today, a 200-strong procession – including dozens of cycling suffragettes, three local choirs and representatives of local women’s organisations – will set off from the city’s Secular Hall on Humberstone Gate East.

At the head of the procession will be ‘Alice Hawkins’ herself, who will lead the procession to the Clock Tower.

Flanked by women carrying banners, Alice will address the crowds from a soapbox, before leading a rousing rendition of ‘The Women’s Marseillaise’.

The procession will then continue to the new market square, where the statue will be unveiled shortly afterwards.

Deputy City Mayor and heritage champion Cllr Adam Clarke said: “Alice Hawkins’ contribution to reforming the electoral system in this country is finally going to be recognised in the city she called home.”

“This statue will honour her memory and the shared achievements of the suffrage movement. It will stand as a reminder to us all that society’s inequalities can be defeated and that gender should not be a barrier to anything.”

A nationwide programme of events marking the centenary of the first British women getting the vote will be taking place this year, with seven cities receiving a share of the Government’s £1.2 million Centenary Cities fund.

Bolton, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham will all host a range of exciting projects, with Leicester receiving a grant of £189,500 that will fund a series of educational and celebratory events inspired by the life and work of Alice Hawkins.

The statue of Alice will be the first of three statues of inspirational women to be unveiled in the UK this year to mark the centenary.

Millicent Fawcett – founder of the National Union of Suffrage Societies – will be commemorated with a statue in London’s Parliament Square, while a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst – leader of the suffragette movement – will be unveiled in Manchester in December.

Alice Hawkins will be the first named woman to be recognised with a statue in Leicester.

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