In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we’ve rounded up a host of leading ladies. Many of their achievements have shaped the climate of the area as it is today, however their influence transcends postcodes, cities, and even continents. They’ve motivated change in fields including nursing, fair-trade, fashion and LGBT rights: meet the Inspirational women of London Bridge… 1. Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE, RDI, Fashion Designer Zandra’s early textile designs were considered too outrageous by the traditional British manufacturers, subsequently she decided to make dresses from her own fabrics, pioneering the very special use of printed textiles as an intrinsic part of the garments she created. She has been Commander of the British Empire since 1997 (in recognition of her contribution to fashion and textiles) and has nine Honorary Doctorates from Universities in both the UK and USA Additionally, Zandra has set up the Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street, here in London Bridge, which was officially opened May 2003 by HRH Princess Michael of Kent. Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta designed the museum in it’s trademark pink and orange – a stunning colour choice replicated in Zandra’s collaboration with Team London Bridge and the Greenwood Theatre in 2015. 2. Sophi Tranchell MBE, CEO of Divine Chocolate Sophi Tranchell, winner of Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year (the most prestigious international award for social innovation) is the CEO of London Bridge based fair-trade chocolate company, Divine Chocolate. Appointed in 1999, she has led this innovative company, from a team of four with a very bold proposition, to the international £12.6m company it is today. Her belief in, and dedication to, the company’s purpose and mission – to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers through a more sustainable and equitable trading relationship – has been fundamental to the company’s success. The company’s unique business model – which gives cocoa farmers the biggest share, and seats on the Board, in addition to the benefits from Fairtrade – has become a leading example of what is possible both in the Fairtrade movement and of a social enterprise reaching international scale in a highly competitive sector. Quote – BBC News 3. Florence Nightingale OM, RRC, Founder of Modern Nursing The Lady with the Lamp’s pioneering work during the Crimean war lead to revolutionary progression in the field of medical care for soldiers. Florence Nightingale became involved with St Thomas’s Hospital in London Bridge in 1859. This was the original site for her famous nursing school. The first trained Nightingale nurses began work on 16 May 1865 at the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary. Now called the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, the school is part of King’s College London. Florence helped establish numerous nursing organizations throughout the remainder of her life and received numerous awards for her work, including the German order of the Cross of Merit and the French gold medal of Secours aux Blessés Militaires. Queen Victoria awarded her the Royal Red Cross in 1883. She was appointed a Lady of Grace of the Order of St John in 1904 and became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit in 1907. She was given the Honorary Freedom of the City of London in 1908. On May 10, 1910 she was presented with the badge of honor of the Norwegian Red Cross Society. Information from British Heritage.com 4. Amy Lamé Night Czar at London City Hall Amy Lamé was appointed by The Mayor as London’s first Night Czar in 2016. The comedian and broadcaster has long and successful track record as a leader and collaborator in the cultural and creative industries. She is co-founder of the Olivier Award winning arts company and club night Duckie, having hosted the club every Saturday at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for 21 years. Amy co-founded and chairs RVT Future, a voluntary LGBT+ community group campaigning to preserve the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern. She is currently working to help tackle sexual assault against women on public transport, and boost the safety of women on nights out. These plans include hosting a City Hall summit with more than 100 women from different fields, including policing, councils and women’s rights groups. Quote – Evening Standard 5. Kerry Taylor Founder of Kerry Taylor Auctions Kerry Taylor joined Sotheby’s in 1979 and rapidly rose through the ranks to become the youngest auctioneer in the company’s history at just 21. ??In 2003 she left to set up her own auction business, specialising in fashion and textiles. Since leaving Sotheby’s she has repeatedly attracted headline grabbing collections and historically important garments belonging to some of the most beautiful and fashionable women of the 20th century – Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Daphne Guinness, the Duchess of Windsor (again) and many others. However, it is her unrivalled expertise and experience built up over more than three decades, her interest, knowledge and passion for the subject, and her care and research of the items she handles that makes her sales unique. Kerry Taylor Auctions, based locally on Long Lane is now regarded as the world’s leading auction house specialising in vintage fashion, fine antique costume and textiles. Quote – Modcloth Blog 6. Women of Southwark Council: Mayor of Southwark Councillor Kath Whittam and CEO Eleanor Kelly Mayor of Southwark Cllr Kath Whittam was appointed in May 2016, and has a long record as a community activist. She’s serving as Chair of her Safer Neighbourhood Ward Panel, private residents’ representative on the Canada Water Campaign Forum, and Chair of the Rotherhithe Under 5’s Group at Time and Talents. Her lifelong interest in the natural environment has seen her become a Friend of Lavender Pond and Russia Dock Woodland. She has also been a very active member of The Amicable Society working with other members on the conservation of the two historic statues standing proud above the old Free School in Rotherhithe to restore their paintwork and brighten their traditional ‘bluecoats’. Meanwhile her commitment to education has continued in her role as School Governor first at Redriff School, Bacons College as parent governor and now Albion Primary School. Southwark Council CEO Eleanor Kelly was appointed as the council’s CEO in 2012. Her department has responsibility for regeneration, planning, human resources and corporate strategy. Eleanor has senior executive level experience in both public and private sectors, including substantial experience as Finance Director, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Executive at Tower Hamlets Council. Recognised by her professional accountancy institute as an expert in organisational management, for a number of years Eleanor acted as the national specialist examiner in this subject for the final year professional exams. She has held a number of non-executive directorships, most notably as a trustee of a charitable trust, and as a non executive chairman of the board of directors for a private consultancy company. 7. Caryl Jenner – Founder of the Unicorn Theatre The Unicorn Theatre was founded by Caryl Jenner as a touring company in 1947 with a commitment to giving children a valuable and often first ever experience of quality theatre, and a philosophy that ‘the best of theatre for children should be judged on the same high standards of writing, directing, acting and design as the best of adult theatre‘. Today, the Unicorn is the UK’s leading professional theatre for young audiences, dedicated to inspiring and invigorating young people of all ages, perspectives and abilities, and empowering them to explore the world – on their own terms – through theatre.