A CELEBRATION of Farnworth suffragette Mary Barnes will be held later this year as the country marks 100 years since women were first given the vote.

The free event, at Farnworth Park, will focus on her life, retelling her story and unveiling a new commemorative plaque in her honour.

Barnes was the first woman councillor for Farnworth after being elected in 1922 and ran unopposed on three occasions.

She was also the first female member for the Board of Guardians which she served for 25 years after being elected chairman in 1921-22.

The women’s rights campaigner, who served Farnworth for 40 years, also served as a magistrate and on a number of committees, including Bolton Women Citizens Association.

She has been named in the top 45 of a list of 100 suffragette pioneers by suffrage-pioneers.net

Farnworth is the only town among seven ‘Centenary Cities’ to be awarded funding by the government.

Farnworth ward councillor Jean Gillies, who was involved in the town’s bid said: “It’s fantastic, it’s about time, especially with everything that’s going on at the moment . It’s been a long time coming, from the start of the bid last April.”

She added: “What Mary Barnes achieved and did, which must have been difficult in those days, it takes a lot of guts and it takes a lot of guts for a man to says ‘I’m 100 per cent behind my wife’, which is what her husband did.”

And Farnworth resident Carole Crawley, who also involved with the bid, added: “She was a woman in a man’s world but she worked alongside men to improve things for everybody.

“It’s nice that someone who did so much for Farnworth has been recognised. When you look back 100 years it must have seemed an impossible task to make things equal and that’s a lesson from history – that you don’t give up and keep trying to improve things.

“What’s also important as well is that the suffragettes weren’t just about women. Working class men also didn’t have the vote, and men marched with women.”

And although the bid was for a celebration of Mary Barnes, Mrs Crawley says the event is for everyone as suffragettes from across Bolton included Bertha Agnew, Florence Blincoe and Alice Collinge.

The one day event to be held on Saturday, 5 May will also be a community celebration with food, drink, music and entertainment and an exhibition in Farnworth Library.

The event will also see the launch of the annual The Mary Barnes Inspirational Woman of Farnworth Award to recognise the work of women in the community. Local bands, groups and performers are also wanted.

To nominate someone for the award or express an interest in performing email jean.gillies@bolton.gov.uk