Mary Clarke was Emmeline Pankhurst’s sister, and was the organiser in Brighton for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) from 1909 until her death in 1910.
She was the first suffragette to die as a result of police violence and forcible feeding in prison.
Campaigners say the statue will be ‘a symbol for the city of equality, democracy and women’s rights’.
The appeal gained cross party support from all three parties on Brighton and Hove City Council, with the leaders of Labour, the Conservatives and Greens committing to an initial £10,000 to help fund the costs of a bronze model of the statue.
Now two MPs in the area have come together to support the campaign.
Brexit-supporting Maria Caulfield, a Brighton resident who represents Lewes as a Conservative MP, and Caroline Lucas, a Remainer and Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, have both agreed to become patrons of the appeal.
Caroline Lucas said: “I am honoured and delighted to accept this invitation to be a patron. I congratulate the members of the appeal for all their work to make this happen – it’s very exciting, and I look forward to doing whatever I can to promote and support the campaign.”
Maria Caulfield said: “I am delighted to become a patron of the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. I hope that it will not be too long before Brighton can proudly display the statue of Mary Clarke, described as ‘the first woman martyr who has gone to death for this cause’. A prominent statue of Mary Clarke in Brighton will help future generations learn of her contribution to the suffragette movement and her impact on it in Brighton.”
In their role as patrons, the two MPs are joining women’s rights campaigner and Labour peer Baroness Joyce Gould, who lives in Hove; Juliet Smith, the Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex; and Professor June Purvis, an historian and acknowledged expert on Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst.
The Mary Clarke Statue Appeal was launched in December 2018. It has the active support of the Brighton and Hove Women’s History Group, which has campaigned for commemoration for suffrage campaigners and local women’s rights charity For Our Daughters.
Local sculptor Hazel Reeves has agreed to make the model and, funding permitting, the statue. Hazel sculpted the recently unveiled Manchester statue of Emmeline Pankhurst.
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