A day of inspiration at Havering’s International Women’s Day

�A bipolar teenager who overcame physical abuse by her father reduced her audience to tears at this year’s International Women’s Day event in Hornchurch.

The 19-year-old was one of three inspirational speakers at the all-day show at Havering College, in Ardleigh Green Road, last Saturday.

Another was self-made businesswomen Tina D’eath who took to the podium to give entrepreneurial advice.

She opened Elm Park Florist, in Broadway, two years ago, when she was suddenly made redundant – aged 57 – after 40 years in the trade

“The day was about trying to tell woman they don’t have to rely on a man to look after them,” said Tina. “We have arms, legs, and brains of our own; we just need to put the effort in.”

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Life coach Denise Mortimer was also on hand to give listeners a pep talk on how to overcome adversity.

Denise said: “This is a wonderful event. The people of Havering should be proud. I fully intend to be back next year, so support this event.”

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‘Opportunity zone’

‘Play, believe, achieve’ was the theme of the event, referring to this year’s Olympics as well as to the general goal of realising female potential. It was the borough’s fourth celebration of International Women’s Day, which is just over a century old.

More than 500 people attended the Havering event, visiting stalls intended to reflect women’s interests, including pampering, arts and crafts, and fitness.

There were also less obvious attractions, including a B&Q stall and an ‘opportunity zone’ – where visitors could learn about opening a business and brush up on their CVs. The organising committee included Havering police’s Insp Lorraine Cowley, who said: “Some of the issues and concerns raised this year are that women are being disproportionately affected by the recession, so the stalls and speakers reflected this. The message is, you can do it!”

Havering College creative arts students and staff joined in the celebrations.

The college’s creative arts centre hosted a message board for students and staff to record tributes to women who have inspired them.

Some dressed in purple, green and yellow – the traditional colours of women’s emancipation – and the group also released balloons.

Lecturer Chris Erwin said: “International Women’s Day is important and here at Havering College we take it very seriously. We wanted to celebrate its 101st anniversary but at the same time it is sad that, more than 100 years later, we are still fighting for equality for women.”

The event was organised by Havering Council and its community partners.

Earlier in the week, Havering Asian Social Welfare Association, in Kilmartin Way, Elm Park, held its own celebrations, offering therapies, food and speeches.

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