RESIDENTS across Wiltshire celebrated International Women’s Day with events and activities.

In Bradford on Avon, the town’s Women’s 100 Group staged a celebration on Friday evening (March 8) with awards for creative writing.

It included a disco and a short film made by independent film-maker Frances Rinaldi, of Freshstart Films, marking the progress of Bradford on Avon women over 100 years.

Attended by all ages, from young children to a 100-year-old, it was the end of a full year of activities organised by the BoA Women’s 100 Group to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage in the UK as well as raise awareness of issues of equality and inclusion in society.

The group has raised more than £1,000 for their charities, Splitz and the Malala Fund.

Group chairman Cllr Alex Kay said: “It was great to see so many people to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“We were lucky to have the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Nicky Alberry and MP Michelle Donelan assisting in award-giving. It was a happy, multi-generational inclusive and creative event, and well-attended.

“I was particularly pleased with the Very Impressive Persons awards, which were both moving and inspirational.

“The film of Bradford women over the 100 years was well received and we are very grateful to Francesca Rinaldi for making it. The creative writing competition was very successful.

“The BoA Women’s 100 team worked together in an attempt to have something for everyone. We are so lucky to live in a town like Bradford on Avon with such creative and diverse talents.”

Writing competition organiser Katie Vigar added: “We received a wonderful array of entries and the quality of writing was quite outstanding.”

A booklet of entries has been produced and is on sale in the town’s bookshop, Ex Libris, in the Shambles.

In Melksham and Trowbridge, events and activities for children and adults were organised by Farzana Saker and Lindsay Driscoll, of the West Wiltshire Multi-Faith Forum.

At the Guide HQ in Melksham they included children’s activities run by Active Trowbridge, belly dancing, the sharing of stories by favourite women and a talk by the town’s mayor, Cllr Adrienne Westbrook.

The WWMFF’s English teacher Diana Deal said: “We had about 50 people attending and it was a really good day. Everybody enjoyed it.

“We have been working with women whose first language is not English and we got them to write stories about their favourite women and then stuck them on the wall. We also had some belly dancing and the Refa restaurant provided lunch.”

At the Bethesda Church in Gloucester Road, Trowbridge, activities included belly dancing, nail pampering, henna tattoos and hair plaiting.

Lindsay Driscoll said: “It was a very successful event. We had about 100 women and 30 children attend.”

Police worker Victoria Smith chose International Women’s Day to announce her plan to run 26.2 miles in April to raise money for a charity close to her heart and to inspire her two young daughters.

Mrs Smith, from Devizes, who works for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner at Police HQ, will raise money for Parkinson’s UK.

She said: “I’m doing it for my lovely dad who has had Parkinson’s for the past 16 years but also to inspire both my young daughters Verity, six, and Lois, four, that you can do anything in life if you’re determined enough. What better message for International Women’s Day?”

“I’ve now cracked the long, steep Caen Hill locks in Devizes - I managed to run up it the other day. I couldn’t have done that a few weeks ago.”

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