There are so many wonderful Essex women out there to inspire us - writers, pilots, composers, artists, actresses, singers, campaigners, athletes, police women, sailors. Here are just a few examples ....
Born in 1950 - Chigwell, Essex
Educated locally at West Hatch School before attending the Aida Foster Theatre School. She quickly won a variety of roles in film, TV and on stage but it was her portrayal as the waitress Yvette in the hit BBC TV series ‘Allo ‘Allo that gained her worldwide recognition. Vicki played Yvette for all nine series with the stage version taking her on national and international tours to Australia and New Zealand smashing box office records, not to mention two seasons in the West End at the Palladium and Prince of Wales and Dominion theatres initially through the 80’s and 90’s.
A wide span of theatre work has taken Vicki from drama to musicals, comedy to pantomime. Her first musical performance came as the evil Bathshebe in the British musical version of Beauty and the Beast.
Aside from her performance commitments, Vicki also heads her own international celebrity and after dinner specialist agency “Trading Faces”, providing speakers and entertains for personal appearances and corporate events.
Born in1923 in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex - Died 1st February 2015
Beryl Platt during her life had been a pioneer for women in so many ways and was, of course, Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission. She was a Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords. Her background was engineering, and she worked in aeronautics and aviation safety. She had a strong interest in science and technology, particularly the role and advancement of women in these fields.
Born in 1940 - Benfleet, Essex
Jill was just 24 when she went completely blind on her wedding day, having previously lost one eye to measles as a baby. She spent the next 7 years “virtually housebound” but gradually began to reclaim her independence with the arrival of her first guide dog, Topsy. Jill has become a formidable campaigner on behalf of other blind and partially-sighted people (work that has earned her both an MBE and an OBE.
Born in Sheering, Essex
Dame Claire Bertschinger DBE DL is an Anglo-Swiss nurse and activist in advocacy on behalf of suffering people in the developing world. Her work in Ethiopia in 1984 inspired Band Aid and subsequently Live Aid, the biggest relief programme ever mounted.
Born in 1979 - Colchester, Essex
In May 2012 Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark became the first British pairing to win the world title in the women's 470 class. They went on to win a silver medal for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, and a gold medal in the Rio Olympics in 2016. They have also been awarded the prestigious female World Sailor of the Year Award.
Born in 1937 - Hornchurch Essex.
She had various jobs in public relations and publishing before becoming columnist on Sunday Times. Her first book was How To Stay Married (1979). She began writing romance stories in 1975, and her first big novel Riders was published in 1985. In 1998 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at British Book Awards and in 2004 an OBE.
Born in 1981 - Barking, Essex
She graduated from Guildhall School of Music & Drama (London) in 2004 and apprenticed at London's National Theatre.
She won the Gold Medal for Drama at the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the most prestigious award given by the school.
She is an actress, known for Non-Stop (2014), Hanna (2011) and Downton Abbey (2010).
Aside from acting, Dockery is also an accomplished jazz singer. She has sung several times at famous London jazz club Ronnie Scotts', as well as making appearances at several festival.
Born in 1966 - Chigwell, Essex
Won the 400m hurdles at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. Set the world record in the same event when winning gold in the 1993 World Championships.
Retired in 1997 becoming a television sports presenter.
Awarded the OBE in 1998.
Born in 1968 - Maldon, Essex
Her handbags are frequently carried by members of the Royal Family.
Anya has been nominated as one of the 25 most influential people working in Britian’s fashion industry. She is a Trustee of both the Royal Academy and the Design Museum. She co-chairs the RA’s Summer Exhibition Previous Party, chairing with Tracey Emin in June 2009. She is a governor of the University of Arts, a non-executive Director of the British Fashion Council and trustee of Mother’s for Children.
In 1996, Essex born Cheryl Frances-Hoad won the BBC Best Young Composer Competition at the age of 15. Her success has continued and in 2010 she became the first young composer to win two BASCA British Composer Awards in the same year. Her recent commission for Chamber Music 2000, entitled Five Rackets for Trio Relay, has been met with critical acclaim, with performances described as ‘fresh and funny’. A prolific chamber composer, Hoad's works have premiered in some of the world's top chamber venues including Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room.
b. 28 April 1918 in Woodford, Essex. Died 1993.
Growing up in the golden era of aviation in the 1920s and early 1930s, Joan Hughes was bitten by the flying bug at an early age and on her 17th birthday qualifyied for her RAeC Certificate, making her, the youngest female flyer in Great Britain.
She became an instructor with Chigwell Flying Club, then joined the Civil Air Guard at Romford in 1938. S was youngest of the 'First Eight' women to join the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1940 where she continued as an instructor. She also ferried many types of aircraft around the UK including Hurricane, Spitfire, Lysander, Typhoon, Mosquito, York, Fortress, Lancaster, Halifax, Liberator and Stirling.
Her flying was always highly praised. After the war Joan returned to civilian flying as a flying instructor at the West London Flying Club at White Waltham before moving to the British Airways Flying Club at Booker in 1961.
Her reputation and ability to fly almost anything made her a natural film stunt pilot. She coached Kenneth More for his role as Douglas Bader in the film Reach for the Sky (1956). When a lightweight was needed to fly the tiny replica 1909 Santos-Dumont Demoiselle, Hughes undertook the flying sequences for Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines in 1965. She also flew replicas of First World War German aircraft in simulated dog-fights for The Blue Max (1966). Her most notable flying episode in films was as a stand-in pilot for Lady Penelope in the 1968 film version of the television series Thunderbirds. She retired after fifty years of flying with 11,800 hours in her log book, 10,000 of which were spent instructing. She returned to White Waltham in 1991 for the unveiling of Roderick Lovesay's painting Tribute to Women Aviators, in which she was one of the twelve women pilots depicted. She was appointed MBE in 1945 for her wartime service in the ATA. In 1954 she finally gained her wings from the RAF. She was awarded the British Women Pilots Association's most prestigious trophy, the Jean Lennox Bird jade vase, in 1962. The Royal Aero Club of Great Britain awarded her the bronze medal in 1967 for outstanding service to aviation in every sphere.
Born 1988 - Chadwell Heath, Essex
She studied at the BRIT School. She is recognised for an unconventional musical and performance style that mixed soul vocals with contemporary R&B, pop, electropop and hip-hop beats. She has sold over 11 million singles and 2.5 million albums worldwide.
Born in 1938 - Ilford, Essex
Reportedly the highest-paid female singer of her generation. She is best known for her cover version of Doris Day's "Secret Love" and for representing the United Kingdom in the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in second place. Her physical appearance often drew comparisons with Marilyn Monroe. She peaked in popularity in the 1960s, when she was one of the best-known and most recognised personalities in British show business.
Born in 1961 - Billericay, Essex
Alison began as a member of the electropop band Yazoo.
Successful solo career having hits with singles such as Alf and albums including Hometime and Voice. She has had West End success in the musical Chicago Playing Mama Morton
Her UK album sales have reached a certified 2.3 million, with over a million singles sold.
Born in 1970 - Ilford, Essex
Attended Trinity High, an independent Catholic School in Woodford and at the age of 16 joined the London Studio Centre, studying dance and drama. Prior to this she had attended the Stragestruck Theatre Company in Ilford from the age of 12.
Actress, known for Eastenders (1985), 7 Seconds (2005) and Hotel Babylon (2006).
1904-1966 - Colchester, Essex
Best remembered for her "golden age" stories featuring gentleman sleuth Albert Campion. In 1941, she published a non-fiction work, The Oaken Heart, which described her experiences in Essex when an invasion from Germany was expected and actively being planned for, potentially placing the civilian population of Essex in the front line.
Born in 1897 - Ilford, Essex
In 1955 she became the first woman to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Pitter’s early poems were published in the New Age in 1911. First Poems (1920) appeared with a preface by Hilaire Belloc; her numerous succeeding volumes include Persephone in Hades (1931), A Mad Lady’s Garland (1934), The Spirit Watches (1939), The Ermine: Poems 1942–1952 (1953), End of Drought (1975), and Collected Poems (1990) with an introduction by E. Jennings.
Much of her verse displays her great accomplishment in complex traditional forms, while elsewhere she writes in more conversationally cadenced modes.
She was appointed a CBE in 1979 to honour her many contributions to English literature
Born in 1946 - Sturmer, Essex
Educated at Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles, France and at the exclusive St. Hilda's school in Bushey, England.
She was a model before entering films in Richard Lester's The Knack ...and How to Get It (1965).
She also voices video games, such as The Ring.
She was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2000 Queen's Millennium Honours List for her services to acting and United Kingdom-French cultural relations.
Born in 1930 - South Woodford, Essex
She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has received many awards for her work, including the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger (lifetime achievement award), and the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence.
She is the author of a series of many novels featuring Detective Chief Inspector Wexford, set in Kingsmarkham, a fictional English town. The first of these, From Doon with Death, is also her first novel and was published in 1964.
She also writes novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. Was awarded a CBE in 1996. A Life Peerage was conferred on her in 1997 as Baroness Rendell of Babergh.
1956 -1999, Brentwood, Essex
Helen started in radio broadcasting in 1980. After directing sport related content for Channel 4, where she helped to bring American football to British television, she anchored coverage of the 1987 World Student Games and 1988 Summer Olympics. She was the first female presenter of the BBC's sports programme Grandstand and was also a regular presenter of Sport on Friday, and of the children's programme Newsround during the 1980s.Her work on Grandstand proved popular with viewers, and led to a number of other sports presenting roles for Rollason throughout the 1990s. As well as covering mainstream events such as the 1996 Summer Olympics, she became a champion of disability sports, helping to raise its profile and change its public and media perception. She presented sports bulletins for BBC Breakfast News and BBC News, and in 1996 was named as Sports Presenter of the Year.
Born in 1947 - Dagenham, Essex
Born Sandra Ann Goodrich, a successful British pop singer of the 1960s renowned for always performing barefoot. In 1967 she was the first UK act to win the Eurovision Song Contest.
She announced her retirement from music in 2013.
Born in 1930 - Laindon, Essex
The First Lady of Carry On.
Joan graduated from RADA in 1950 at the age of nineteen.
A cameo appearance in Doctor in the House (1954) led to Joan being first spotted by Peter Rogers.Rogers’ wife Betty E. Box was the producer of the Doctor series, in which Joan herself became a regular.
A few years later, in 1958, Joan received another script from Peter Rogers, it was Carry on Nurse (1959). She went on to appear in 24 of the films, making her the longest serving female member of the team.
Born in 1934 - Ilford, Essex
Stage debut in 1952 in production of Twelfth Night.
Joined National Theatre in 1963. Film debut in Nowhere to Go (1958). Became well known in film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) winning an Academy Award. Later films include A Private Function (1984), A Room With A View (1985) and the Harry Potter films.
Made a DBE in 1990.
Born in 1989 - Dagenham, Essex
Finished third on the sixth series of British television series The X Factor and won the tenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
Born in 1956 - Kelvedon, Essex
Although she has gained fame through her television and film work, and has often undertaken roles for BBC Radio, she is most known as a stage actress. Stevenson is known for her leading role in the film Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991)
In 2009, she starred in ITV’s A Place of Execution. The role won her the Best Actress Dagger at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards.
Hannah Stodel was born in 1985, growing up in the coastal village of West Mersea,. She was born without a lower right arm however this did not stop her from becoming a world-class sailor.
She has represented Great Britain at three Summer Paralympics and with her colleagues John Robertson and Stephen Thomas has won multiple medals in the Mixed Sonar class at the Disabled Sailing World Championships, including gold in 2005 and 2006
Born in 1983 - in Southend on Sea, Essex
Kara is dyslexic and had speech and drama lessons at school. She also took part in LAMDA examinations, entering local musical festivals performing poetry recitals.
She also attended the Morgan Academy of Performing arts (M.A.P.A) in Leigh-on-Sea. She was 15 when she joined EastEnders.
In July 2010, she recorded a documentary for BBC Three called Kara Tointon: Don’t Call Me Stupid. The programme examined the impact dyslexia can have on people’s lives and the difference different learning styles can have on people with dyslexia.
Born in 1974 - Basildon, Essex
Studied at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. Joined The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 as a weather and travel reporter in 1996 before moving to co-presenting the show in 1997.
Played the role of Roxie Hart on the stage in the hit musical Chicago in 2001 where she achieved rave reviews. Has co-presented This Morning and hosted a number of shows including The National Lottery, The Friday Night Project and The Race on Sky One.
Anne Wafula Strike MBE is a Harlow-based British Paralympic wheelchair racer.
Anne provides a personal example of courage, commitment and determination that challenges misconceptions about disability. Athlete, author, and sporting ambassador, Anne inspires achievement and excellence across a broad range of life situations through motivational talks and appearances that encourages others to overcome difficulties and maximise their potential.
Helen Welburn, whose police career spanned 28 years, joined Essex Police in 1970 as their first female police superintendent. She was surprised to find rather backward attitudes towards female officers and played an instrumental role in developing a wider range of duties for them ahead of the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act which gave women equal pay. After 1975 women police officers could train for the same duties as men. Helen was hailed as a visionary who paved the way for equality for women in policing and her innovative and modern thinking helped to shape the way for women in policing throughout England and Wales.