Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford graves of 'Bold and Brave' women remembered

Grave of Danuta Gruzsczynska-Alasinska Image copyright Friends of Foster
Image caption The grave of Danuta Gruzsczynska-Alasinska who died aged 29, who moved to Bedford after the war, after she served in the resistance in the Home Army

A number of "little known" and "remarkable" women buried in a town's cemetery are being remembered, to mark the centenary since women were given the vote.

The Bold & Brave walks at Foster Hill Cemetery, Bedford, have been created to highlight 13 "pioneer" women who are buried there, said organisers.

The walks have been named in honour of a member of the Polish Resistance.

A suffragette, astronomer and teachers are also included.

Image copyright Friends of Foster Hill Road Cemetery
Image caption Danuta Gruszczynska-Alasinska married and moved to Bedford after the war and became a teacher at the towns Polish school

One of the honoured women, Danuta Gruszczynska-Alasinska, served in the underground Polish army during the Nazi occupation in World War Two.

'A real honour'

She was captured and imprisoned in Germany, moved to Bedford after the war and died in 1953, aged 29, at the Polish Hospital in Penley, Flintshire, from heart failure.

Karen Fryc, tour guide and author of The Bedford Chronicles, said Ms Gruszczynska-Alasinska's Warsaw Uprising pseudonym was Smiala, which means brave or bold.

She said: "During times when women had no real voice or power, these women fought to make their voices heard facing sexism, discrimination, racism, inequality, and misogyny.

"To be able to tell their stories today, in the year when we celebrate 100 years since some women were finally given the right to vote, is a real honour."

Image copyright Panacea Museum
Image caption The walk features the grave of Mabel Barltrop, a founder of the Panacea Society, a religious community in Bedford and was known as Shiloh, a prophet

Adrian Bean, a tour guide from Friends of Foster Hill Cemetery, said: "We've loved every minute planning, researching and carrying out the walks, to highlight and celebrate some of the little-known but remarkable women buried in our cemetery, whose stories are poignant, uplifting and inspiring.

"As a guide, I feel privileged to have helped open the long-closed books about these brave women, especially Danuta, so their achievements can be appreciated."

Image copyright Thompson family
Image caption The Bold and Brave project includes Pearl Thompson who was Bedford's first teacher from the Caribbean and moved to the UK from Jamaica
Image copyright Friends of Foster Hill Road Cemetery
Image caption Pearl Thompson died in 2014 and her children have already tried the walk

The next free walk is taking place at Foster Hill Cemetery on 9 August at 18:30 BST.

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