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Lydney Honours its Inspiring Women

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

As a celebration of International Women’s Day, ‘We Grew Up in Lydney’ hosted a special event to celebrate the inspirational women in Lydney that have made a difference. The aim of the event was to illustrate that despite the challenges facing residents in Lydney, the town is full of people that have grabbed opportunity with both hands and become very successful in their own ways.



The event was dedicated to inspiring women – from the initial driving force behind the Watts group today to Lydney’s very own Iron Woman.


Seven inspirational women were invited to take part in a live interview which discussed how living in Lydney had inspired them and what challenges needed to be overcome for future generations.



The event was opened by local businessmen John Thurston who shared stories of his Great Grandmother Clara Watts and how her ambition, inspiration, dedication and pride in owning a business with her husband proved the cornerstone for the success of one of the few great family businesses remaining in Britain today.



Among the woman invited to speak were:

- Claire Vaughan, local town councillor who campaigned for street lighting and a post box at Oakdale.

- Olive Kennedy, who was born in Lydney in 1922. She has been a member of the Royal British Legion in Lydney for many years.

- Mary Thurston, who detailed the history of Lydney hospital and some of its most memorable past Matrons.

- Lauren Chiton, marathon runner and Iron Woman

- Gill & Julie Drew, a mother and daughter team who help to organise and run the Forest of Dean Relay for Life.


Claire Vaughan was first to be interviewed in front of the live audience, she said “Inspirational women have helped me. I went back to work full time when my son went to secondary school and put extra care in for my mum. It was hard but I’ve worked myself up and am now training to be a Pharmacy Technician.”


Claire became a councillor just after moving to Oakdale estate in Lydney in 2012. “When we moved, there wasn’t even sufficient lighting on the footpaths. It was whilst campaigning for this that I decided to stand in the election for Lydney town council.”


“People feel comfortable approaching me as a councillor,” Claire said. “I help run a local meat draw every Sunday to raise money for local charities, which has raised more than £8000 and me and my 14 year old son also do Relay for Life every year.”


“It’s a privilege to represent the local electorate of Lydney and helping those around me.”


Julie Drew, Event Chair of FOD Relay for Life added, “It’s good to recognise the women in Lydney as there are so many that do brilliant jobs everywhere in the town.”


The next event will be held on Wednesday 22nd May at Watney Hall, 3 Hill Street from 7-9pm and will be covering sports and leisure clubs. Please bring along your memories, photos, films and stories.