‘Never give up on your dreams” was a big part of the message at Blackpool’s first International Women’s Day Festival.
More than 100 high profile women from the fields of sport, science, arts and business across the Fylde coast took part in the event at Blackpool Sixth Form College, which saw more than 200 pupils from local schools attend. They were able to try activities such as African drumming, laser shooting, film-making, cosmic chemistry and confidence-building workshops, as part of global International Women’s Day.
Kelly Massey Team GB 4 x 400m Olympic champion, Fylde’s Pentathlon GB medallist Dr Nic Robinson, Blackpool-born comedian Ruth Cockburn and Dame Julia Cleverdon, part of the Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership and co-founder of social movement #iwill, all supported the festival. Other female role models included Kate Shane of Merlin entertainments, Tracy Manning of Fylde Council and Wyre councillor Andrea Kaye.
Pupil Zafeera Abdoola, 12, gave a heart-felt opening speech, telling the audience feminism isn’t about women trying to be superior to men, but ensuring “all humans are equal”.
Olympic medallist Kelly Massey reiterated “anything is possible” before getting guests moving with a physical warm-up to music.
Blackpool-born comic Ruth Cockburn, told youngsters how the town “made her” and pushed her towards opening new doors: “It’s really important for young women, who are told they can’t do certain things, to have positive role models to show them ‘yes, you can’.”
Deborah Terras, director of The Washington Group, which organised the event, said: “It was great to see young girls enjoying themselves, having such positive experiences and leaving with an action plan to make a difference to their lives – whether that be a career to embark on, or trying new things and ultimately believing they can do anything if they set their mind to it.”