Nancy Astor

WBD supports Lady Astor Statue Appeal and celebrates centenary of first ever female MP

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), the largest law firm in Plymouth, has donated £2,000 to the Lady Astor Statue Appeal, a campaign to build a statue of Nancy Astor and celebrate 100 years since she was elected to Parliament.

Lady Astor changed the course of history by becoming the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons after she was elected MP for Plymouth Sutton in November 1919. Whilst her historic achievements paved the way for better representation of women both in Parliament and beyond, there is no effigy of her in Plymouth or indeed anywhere in the country.

The Lady Astor Statue campaign, which has been fundraising with the assistance of Crowdfunder, set out to raise funds to create a statue of Lady Astor to be sited on Plymouth Hoe. The appeal has now exceeded its original target of £100,000 required for the statue and is now raising additional funds for a legacy project to help women and girls from the city to follow in Lady Astor’s footsteps and pursue a career in politics.

The current total raised is over £121,500 and although WBD had already made a donation to support the statue appeal, the firm was delighted to be able to make a further donation yesterday (30 January) to ensure the success of the legacy project.

Craig Moore, Partner and Head of WBD’s Plymouth office, commented: “Nancy Astor was the first woman to ever walk into the House of Commons only a year after women were given the right to vote. She was instrumental in paving the way for gender diversity and parity in Parliament and inspiring generations of women to follow in her footsteps and play their full part in our democracy. WBD is immensely proud to be involved in the Lady Astor Statue Appeal and pay tribute to our first ever female MP to take her seat.”

Emma Preston, Solicitor at WBD, added: “We’re delighted to have been able to support the Lady Astor campaign. Plymouth should feel proud of the legacy Nancy Astor has left not only in our local community but across the whole of the UK in inspiring women to break down long-established barriers. Now a centenary after her election, it’s good to see the strides being made to redress the imbalance of gender equality but we can always do more and businesses must continue to make sure that there is true equality of opportunity for all suitable candidates particularly at board level and in other senior positions.”

WBD is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture for its people and to attract and retain the very best people. The firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Group, led by Board member Paula Dillon, agrees priorities annually to ensure WBD remains a supportive work place, in which it nurtures a spirit of equality, fairness and respect for all. The firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion was commended by the Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Charter when it achieved the gold status and it was also featured in The Lawyer’s Top 200 as a ‘Diversity Pioneer’. The firm regularly supports initiatives locally including the International Women’s Day event in Plymouth which it is sponsoring in 2019 for the third year running.

Ranking in the UK’s top 20 law firms, WBD provides legal expertise in eleven key sectors from across eight offices in the UK and 18 offices in the US. In Plymouth, the firm employs around 180 people.

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