International Women’s Day 2019 – A Volunteers Perspective

Report and photos by Marcia Walker

International Women’s Day 2019 hosted by Bristol Women’s Voice in partnership with Bank of Ireland UK, Bristol City Council and Bristol Women’s Commission on Saturday 2nd March 11am – 5:30pm at Bristol City Hall, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR was a wonderful success, with over 30 events held for around 1500 people in attendance. My role, as one of the volunteer reporter/photographer’s for the day, was to cover the majority of the events being held in The Great Hall, which quite literally started with an explosion of upbeat, fun tunes from Lara Marie Insull and her all female band ‘Burning Brass’.  They lived up to their name as they did last year and got the full house moving. Smiles and laughter was had by all who enjoyed the talented musicians as they played their trumpets, trombones, saxes and more!

Lara getting Burning Brass ready!

Burning Brass are formed from a group of local women from several other bands who come together to play and they can play anything it seemed from James Brown to the Eurythmics.

Great tunes ‘Burning Brass’!

‘Burning Brass’ went for a walk into the crowd while playing an array of happy tunes.  Fun was had by all.

At around 11:45am Bristol Women’s Voice Chair Penny Gane gave her informative and warm welcoming speech.  Penny is also the chair of Bristol Women’s Commission which includes ‘Women’s Safety’, ‘Women’s Representation in Public Life’, ‘Women and Transport’, ‘Women In Business’, ‘Women’s Health’ and ‘Women and the Economy’.

Next on stage in The Great Hall were the extremely talented and award winning amateur dramatic group Bristol Amateur Operatic Society, BAOS.

Erupting into their opening song, ‘The Sorcerer’ by Gilbert and Sullivan which was performed beautifully.  My favourite song was ‘Let It Go’ from the Disney animated movie Frozen which was also a delight to the children present.Moving on after lunch was an engaging one woman show about two iconic women performed by screenwriter, producer and other!, Jenny Davis in her play ‘Leave Without Rattling’, featuring the lives of Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole and ‘Bristolian Windrush icon Princess Campbell’.  Jenny Davis writes for the BBC drama Doctors.

‘Tan Teddy’, ‘the only Jamaican Folk Culture Group’ shone and rocked the house shortly after with their wonderful songs that tell stories such as ‘Poor Lizzy Jane Should Have Got Married Long Ago’ and the ‘Washing Song’, I can still hear those beautiful ladies still singing!

Tan Teddy have been performing together for six years, promoting interest in Jamaican heritage.

Female Equality & Identity: Dance Theatre Performance by young students, 13yrs and 14yrs of age from Merchants Academy, Withywood, gave their own ideas through dance of what they felt equality and identity meant much to the delight of their teacher.

3:00pm was the African Voice Forum’s Inspirational Women.

‘A theatrical conversation!’.  African Voices Forum (AVF) is a Bristol based network of African and African-Caribbean community organisations working to empower their communities and share with those that support them,  I managed to grab this photo before I had to go to Isha Yoga in The Library which was also on at 3pm. Wonderful that so many diverse and interesting events were being held! As I walked through the hall way to my next destination I passed some interesting stalls and saw so many happy faces, including ‘Sarah Guppy; otherwise known as the actor Kim Hicks her one woman play is ‘Sarah Guppy, The Bridge, The Bed, The Truth’, more can be found on Bristol Women’s Voice website,

Fun in the hall way and also meeting Sarah Guppy!

Arrive at Isha Yoga – ‘Empowerment tools from the ancient science of yoga for wellbeing.  Very interesting and the room was full!

After some yoga exercises, I eat some lunch and then went onto the Lord Mayor’s Reception for the ‘Menopause, Medicine, Society, Work & Self’ Panel ‘exploring the impact of the menopause on women’s lives’.  I noticed that the British Sign Language ladies – BSL interpreters were also there, they had been busy in the Great Hall earlier, Bristol Women’s Voice were aiming to include everyone. Beccy Golding informed us of the dedicated Facebook group called QWIM: Quixotic Women in Menopause with over 600 members that allows women a safe space to share their stories and swap advice.  Lauren Chiren, Founder of ‘Women of a Certain Stage’ invited us to a ‘Menopause Social’ on the Sunday, also informing us that there are 34 symptoms of the menopause and after hearing more from the medical expert Caroline Overton who discussed Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT – its positive and negatives, all came away more informed. Stories were also shared and this helped everyone present to feel not so alone in their experiences.

The Lord’s Mayor’s Reception was full and there was good participation.  Now back to The Great Hall managed to grab a photo at the end of The Women & Power panel who were on at 4pm.

Women & Power Panel in The Great Hall 4pm.

‘Pitch Fight’ sing the day to a close!

‘Pitch Fight’ talented all women acapella group from the University of Bristol also sang to us volunteers, a wonderful end to a wonderful day.  Well done Ellie, Sandra, Debra, Tara and Penny and all who helped make it an unforgettable IWD19.

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