Today, 8th March, marks International Women’s Day, a global day (that’s taken place since 1911) that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. All over the world, people are driving equality for women. Join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #IWD2024


Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. – International Women’s Day


We reached out to some of the inspiring women in Sevenoaks who are leading the way for change and doing incredible things. Here’s their stories, in their own words…


Lizzy Hall MBE, Founder of The Hygiene Bank charity


Female founder, international women's day


In August 2018, Lizzy watched the Ken Loach film ‘I Daniel Blake’. Moved by the scene where a single mother is caught shop lifting for basic toiletries, Lizzy sent a WhatsApp to friends saying she was collecting items to take to her local foodbank. Driven by a belief that everyone in society deserves to feel clean and dignified; that no-one should be left struggling to wash their hair, brush their teeth, or be unable to change their baby’s nappy as often as needed because of low wages, high housing costs, benefit cuts, illness, or bereavement, Lizzy set up The Hygiene Bank.

In October 2019 she was proud to receive The Woman Of The Year, Boots sponsored Wellness Warrior for her work with The Hygiene Bank, as well as Charity of the Year at the Making it Happen awards in Sevenoaks. On top of that she has been awarded an MBE in the King’s New Years Honours list.

Today, with over 530 volunteers and 190 local projects across the UK, The Hygiene Bank have redistributed more than 1,500 tonnes of hygiene products to over 1,500 Community Partners across the country, including food banks, schools, refuges and homeless shelters. Lizzy has created a nationwide initiative and thousands of people have received help due to her compassion and foresight.

awards - international women's day

Shona Campbell, Chair of Trustees of Friends for Families charity


female trustee womens day


Shona has lived in Sevenoaks for 27 years and at the time she set up Friends for Families with a friend she was coaching women’s recreational running locally. Her running group worked with Children’s Services to organise a Christmas gift appeal in the run up to Christmas 2017.

Her conversations with Children’s Services opened her eyes to the level of deprivation locally, something she admits she had previously been totally unaware of. Shocked to realise that over 20% of local children were growing up in poverty, she and her runners came to the conclusion that more than a Christmas appeal was required and that it would be necessary to help long term. In January 2018, Shona and her friend Debbie set up Friends For Families and registered it as a charity.

Shona has chaired the charity since the beginning and is immensely proud of all that the dedicated team of volunteers has achieved. The charity has helped over 1200 local families in a wide variety of ways, from essential furniture and white goods to children’s clothes and school uniforms, and prides itself on its flexible, tailored response to need.

Friends For Families has, for example, funded college supplies to enable a child to continue in education, specialist therapies for a small number of children with complex needs that weren’t able to be met by statutory services, and many other specific interventions aimed at supporting disadvantaged local children’s mental health and access to education. Shona is confident that the charity is unique in its flexible approach and working partnership with Children’s Services, and that the charity has changed the lives of many families for the better.

Friends For Families grew out of the local community and still needs your support, so do get in touch with them if you want to donate or to support in other ways. For more information please go to their website or their Facebook page




Jennifer Godfrey, author  of two books on the Suffragettes



How did I come to research and write about suffragettes?

I’ve always been interested in social history and women’s history. I’ve always loved writing – started at a young age creating and making up stories and books, with pages stapled together between badly decorated pieces of card!  All of my jobs have involved writing – buyer, solicitor, lecturer, charity community development director & local government projects & grants officer.

I saw my publisher’s advert in a writing magazine – they were looking for new authors to research & write about the suffrage movement in their local area. Initially I was asked to write about the suffragettes of Maidstone. I wasn’t sure that there would be enough material so suggested the area be widened – Suffragettes of Kent was then born!

What happened then continues to shape my research & writing and in fact my life as I’m now concentrating full time on it! I found Ethel – Ethel Violet Baldock born 1893 in Kent. Grew up in Maidstone. Went into service as a maid aged 12.  By 1912 aged 19 Ethel is living in Tunbridge Wells and goes to a London WSPU protest. Known as the Great Militant Protest, over 250 women smashed windows in London across 2 nights in March 1912. Ethel is arrested and finds herself in Holloway with all the other women.

My second book topic, Great Militant Protest, chosen because of Ethel. Learn more about this here.

The other reason for continuing is that the sharing of these stories, many of them previously untold, is vital for learning. We can learn so much from history and historical figures. My research has given me glimpses into the lives of so many different people, old, young, rich and poor. They are from all walks of life with different challenges and experiences and yet they all connected in different ways with the aim of achieving a common cause – votes for women.

Visit Jennifer’s website here.
Buy ‘Secret Missions of the Suffragettes: Glass Breakers and Safe Houses.




Steph Harrison, founding member of Charity Angels UK

Steph Harrison moved to Sevenoaks on Valentines Day 2006 and in the summer of 2008, at the age of 48, she received a breast cancer diagnosis. During her treatment she witnessed a young lady in her 20’s receive her own diagnosis. That event led Steph to begin fundraising for the charity Breast Cancer Care, the charity that helped her during her own diagnosis. She began galvanising the people and businesses of Sevenoaks and in the 12 years of volunteering with the charity she’s organised a string of events from book signings, to concerts and to creating Sevenoaks Pink Week. Steph has raised over £250,000 for the charity! Most of which was raised in Sevenoaks.

In 2021, Steph became a founding member of Charity Angels UK, a fundraising group who raise money for Against Breast Cancer, specifically for research into secondary breast cancer.

The next big fundraising event in the calendar is a fashion show, which is being held on the evening of the 28th September at the Bat & Ball Community Centre. Keep an eye on the Charity Angels Facebook page for updates.