On 15th September 2018, Holy Trinity Parish Church held one of their Heritage Open Days and we were invited, along with other groups, to take a table in the Trinity Hall. There was also an opportunity to take part in some activities centred around "Extraordinary Women" who lived in Sutton in earlier times.
During the day, several of our members turned up to ensure the table was a success. Peter Knight produced a display of our publications for sale and a rota of Eileen Donahoe, Roy Billingham, Hazel Riggall, Don McCollom, Ann Geraghty and David Flook kept visitors entertained, possibly even encouraging new members for the group! There was also on this table a complete set of Roger Lea's History Spot articles (nearly 500 of them), which have appeared in the Observer newspaper over the past 10 years. This was available for people to look through and provided many lively discussions with visitors.
In the Church itself, the activity focused on four women: Emma Barton, the photographer; Agnes Bracken, author of The History of the Forest and Chase of Sutton Coldfield; Sarah Holbeche, whose interesting diary is in Sutton Coldfield Library; and Rhoda Anstey of Anstey College, known to sympathise with the Suffragette movement.
Children were encouraged to dress up, in clothes supplied, to have their photo taken in the Emma Barton corner, whilst a group called Secret City Arts promoted the Suffragette movement and, in so doing, persuaded a couple of reluctant members of our group to join with them in singing one of their anthems. It is a pity there was no rehearsal beforehand!
Our contribution to the exhibition was supplied by Janet Lillywhite (who has recently been researching the Suffragette movement, particularly in Sutton Coldfield) and Janet Jordan, who had researched Sarah Holbeche and Agnes Bracken. Both had a few surprises when visitors turned up with bits of new and interesting information, adding to our knowledge of Sutton's past history.
It was pleasing to see other members of the group looking around the newly refurbished building, which is a real credit to the Project Co-ordinators of Holy Trinity Parish Church. Our thanks must go to them for giving us the chance to promote our own group.
Photographs curtesy Eileen Donohoe