Five famous east London women have been honoured after their images painted by Barking school children went up on hoardings by their school.
The paintings of entertainers Dame Vera Lynn, who was from East Ham and lived in Dagenham, Sandie Shaw, who hailed from Dagenham, former Barking MP, Jo Richardson, Humanitarian Elizabeth Fry, who lived in East Ham, and St Ethelburga, the first Abbess of the monastery of Barking, were created by Years eight and nine at Greatfields School.
The school is currently being built in phases as part of the wider regeneration of the Gascoigne East estate in Barking.
Attending the official unveiling of the paintings were Headteacher Richard Paul of Greatfields School, Sarah Knight, Head of Art at Greatfields, the pupils involved in the project, Cllr Lynda Rice, Iain Ferguson of Be First, Andrew Shepherd CEO of Mid-Group Alison Cormack, of Bouygues UK, who was the brainchild of the project.
Dame Vera Lynn said: “I am delighted to be remembered in this way by the children of east London. As an east ender I was always proud of where I was born and bred and this makes me feel prouder still.”
Sandie Shaw said: “I am absolutely thrilled that I’ve been honoured in this way and I hope the children enjoyed their project. It’s very humbling, and now I not only have some great memories of Barking and Dagenham, I will also have something there to remind me!”
Sarah Knight of Greatfields School, said: “This project brought alive real local historical figures through art. It was such a great idea by Alison and the pupils really became engaged and found out how and why strong east London women have made such a huge impact on our country and society.”
Cllr Lynda Rice, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Diversity, said: “This borough has always produced powerful strong women and it’s great to see these iconic east end women recognised in this way.
“All of them in their own way helped shape our community, from St Ethelburga and Elizabeth Fry to Dame Vera Lynn who kept up morale in the war, and to Sandie Shaw, who was a trailblazing 60s singer with a sound made in Dagenham. They are inspirations to women in the borough today.”
Alison Cormack, of Bouygues UK, who was the brainchild behind the scheme and worked with Greatfields School art teacher Sarah Knight, said: “The idea for the project came about as part of my resident liaison officer role for Bouygues UK on the Weavers Quarter scheme we have just completed. This involved working closely with Greatfields School and it was through engaging with Sarah and the school art club about community events that the idea to honour five famous local women evolved.
“Barking and Dagenham has an impressively rich history of trailblazing women and in a year which commemorates 100 years of some women getting the vote, it seemed very appropriate to commemorate some of our local female legends in a way which would engage the local community. These hoardings are a wonderful way to do this and it’s fantastic to see the scheme come to fruition!”
Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director at Be First, which is helping to deliver the new school and the regeneration of the Gascoigne East estate, said: “The images of these iconic east London women are an apt addition to the building of what will be a ground-breaking regenerated estate in a buzzing east London borough.”
Andrew Shepherd of Mid-Group, who are the builders of Greatfields School, and whose hoardings the paintings are fixed to, said: “We’re proud to help showcase the paintings and the images of these great east end women. We’re equally proud to help build Greatfields, which is showing what a great community school it is.”