We met River Isaac, our Child Ambassador, during the period of COVID lockdown when she asked us to help
her teacher to organise an on-line sculpture class about Mary Clarke for Balfour School in Brighton.
This we did and subsequently asked River to become our first Child Ambassador for the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. Since then she has helped us with fundraising events and lobbied councillors on our behalf.
River has been very inspired by Mary’s courage. In particular, she tells us, she was struck by Isabella McKeown’s words after Mary’s death, when she told fellow suffragettes not to mourn Mary in silence, but to “..take the torch from her and light the darkness”. These striking words have fired many people’s imaginations, including that of our sculptor.
Denise Dutton’s design for the statue shows Mary in the last days of her life, standing tall, but having laid down a lamp for others to pick up.
Now, with the support of Balfour School’s head teacher and other senior staff members, River has set up a girls’ group at her school, which she has called Mary’s Lamp. All its members are nine years old and are in Year 4.
The girls have started to meet regularly, and recently, led by River, they recently delivered a very successful power point presentation about Mary Clarke to two full assemblies at the school. They took along photos, leaflets and badges and, most importantly, our resin maquette of Mary and a realistic model of the lamp itself, both of which were made by Denise Dutton.
Addressing hundreds of fellow students must have been
daunting, but the girls took it in their stride. Teachers have told us the presentations were extremely successful.
We are lost in admiration and so grateful to the girls and their teachers. We hope that other primary schools will follow their example, finding a way to tell Mary’s story, while at the same time encouraging and empowering girls – and teaching all children about the importance of women’s rights and democracy.
We are thrilled to have been invited to have a stall at Balfour School’s Summer Fair on 16th July.