Aggie Weston is voters pick in public plaque poll

Aggie Weston was the firm favourite in a recent online poll which asked the people of Plymouth to vote from a list of well-known women with connections to the city.

More than 1,800 people took part in the poll, which was run in partnership with Plymouth Live, with the 19th century philanthropist and founder of the Royal Sailors Rests winning 30% of the votes.

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader said: “What a fantastic result to announce on International Women’s Day. Our poll had a real mix of brilliant women on it who’ve all achieved great things – things that have either benefitted Plymouth or helped put us on the map. I’m thrilled so many people got involved and took the time to vote, and that we’ve ended up with such a worthy winner.”

Born in London in 1840 Aggie Weston spent more than two decades living and working among the sailors of the Royal Navy.

She co-founded two Royal Sailors’ Rests in Plymouth and one in Portsmouth with fellow philanthropist Sophia Wintz (1847-1929) and campaigned tirelessly to improve the lot of her beloved ‘bluejackets’.

Her other accomplishments included a monthly magazine called ‘Ashore and Afloat’, a book called ‘Life Among the Bluejackets’ which was published in 1909 and the establishment of a number of temperance societies on naval ships.

In 1918 her work for the Royal Navy was recognised when she was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).

When she died later that year in Devonport she became the first woman to be granted full naval honours at her funeral.

Plymouth-born Kelly Ganfield came second in the poll with 21% of the votes. The former soldier was a silver medallist at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney – the first visually impaired athlete to claim a medal. She also competed in the 2017 games in Toronto and was honoured earlier this year in the Recognising Achievement category at the Endeavour Fund Awards.

Much-loved artist Beryl Cook OBE came third in the poll with 15% of the votes. Born in Surrey in 1926, she moved to Plymouth in 1968 and had her first exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre in 1975. Her instantly recognisable work is represented in private and public collections across the world and many of her paintings feature scenes and locations from Plymouth.

“We launched this poll because we wanted to give people a say in who we celebrate and continue the work we’ve been doing to highlight the city’s links with the women’s movement,” continues Councillor Evans. “There are nearly 170 different plaques in Plymouth but up until November last year only two of them were dedicated to women. We unveiled three more in December and Aggie Weston’s plaque will be next. We’ll also be installing plaques for Kelly Ganfield and Beryl Cook this year.”

Details of the locations and unveiling dates for the plaques will be announced as soon as they’re confirmed.