Colne Town Hall stands at the top of Albert Road and like many other Victorian buildings in Colne, is symbolic of the strength and pride found in many Northern Mill towns.
Built in 1894 by Alfred Waterhouse, who also gave us the magnificent Manchester Town Hall, the building has seen its chambers filled with and led by many men over the years. In silent testament to this, their portraits adorn the walls of the staircase and also the Council Chambers.
As part of the Pendle Business week, Role was asked to deliver a day of support and inspiration for women in business and the venue was Colne Town Hall. As I set up for the day, in the Council Chambers, I couldn't help but wonder what all those serious looking men, in their council robes, would have made of Role and the work we do every day to advance women into leadership roles in business and management and to mentor future generations of women.
The start of our Women on the Up day is a presentation which charts the progress of women in the economy. Its a timeline of women's advancements over the past 150 years and indeed includes reference to the many female northern mill workers who supported the women's suffrage movement. I also talk about my own career, starting in the 1970s building a business in Greenfield Mill, Colne and ultimately leading me to the Chambers of Westminster, presenting to the Women and Equalities committee and representing the British Chambers of Commerce as their Ambassador for Women's Enterprise.
As our 16 delegates arrived, there were many comments from them about embarking on this day of vision and self belief in a room where there were no portraits at all of women! However, our message was so powerful and our delegates so eager to succeed in their businesses and careers, that the room was soon filled to the brim with enthusiasm, as they shared their aspirations and goals.
We had a truly motivational day, under the watchful guise of our serious male friends and we all agreed that the portraits, which have been privy to many great plans and decisions made about Colne and its people over the years, had been truly privileged to witness the vision and commitment of our 16 delegates, as they set down their plans to grow their businesses and careers and in doing so, advance women in the economy even further, in 2018.