Today is International Women's Day, which celebrates and advocates the equality and rights of women all around the world. So today i'm celebrating my Grandma.
Hilda Mary Rhea Lay, (better known as Mary...or Grandma to me) was born on the 21st July 1931 along with her twin Anne. They grew up in a very small village in Bedfordshire, in a cosy cottage on the corner. She lived there with her parents, twin and younger brother until she married my Grandad and left to be a farmers wife. As typical as that sounds for rural 1950's, my Grandma's upbringing was a little different to most.
When my Grandma left school at 14 years old, her Dad really encouraged her to get a job, as he wanted her to make something of herself before she met a husband. So she got her first job as a sales assistant in Woolworths.
She met my Grandad when she was 17 in a fish and chip shop in Bedford after she had been roller skating with her sister, and they soon fell in love. Her father gave his blessing for her to marry him, but on one condition- they waited until she was 21 years old. He felt it was important that she was independent, and lived her life before she settled down to start a family.
This work ethic and attitude to independence really shaped who my Grandma was, and when her and my Grandad did eventually marry in 1953 she decided to quit her job at Woolworths to start a family. Then when my Auntie Jane and Mum started school in the 60's, she started her own flower business. She set up a few large greenhouses on the farm and was getting regular customers. The sales experience she learned at Woolworths over 7 years really helped her become a successful business woman, and she was soon providing hanging baskets for all the popular restaurants and businesses owners in the surrounding counties.
My Grandparents retired in 1995 after years of hard work, and i'm so happy my Great Grandad drove my Grandma to be independent and do what made her happy. He was very forward thinking for his time when it came to equal rights for women, and set a great example for the generations to come in my family. My Mum is very independent and I like to think I am too. For that I am thankful and proud to be part of that family.
Which women in your life are you proud of today?