It’s very important that we learn from history in every respect.
I also think that we can become so involved in the everyday that we don’t give sufficient recognition to those in the past and today who have and continue to contribute to island life in whatever form.
Now I have more time on my hands I am spending some of it reading.
I have always been very interested in social history generally and Manx in particular.
I thought today and in some future pieces I might once again look at a number of residents and recognise them.
My starting reference is the publication New Manx Worthies, which I thoroughly recommend. I will use the written pieces in the volume but only in brief form and acknowledge each of the authors and hope you are encouraged to use the book and others similar to learn more about our fellow citizens over the years.
Today’s piece concerns females from our island which I will take in alphabetical order and see how far I get.
My piece today I hope will serve as an appetiser! I must emphasise there is much more detail about each which is really interesting in the book and hope you will consider following up.
The first piece was written by Robert Fyson and it concerns Annie Dorothy Bridson.
She was only the second female member to be elected to the House of Keys in 1951.
Most associated with matters educational she was an active trade union representative on behalf of teachers and made a very significant contribution as a Manx Labour Party member.
Indeed she attended the founding conference in September 1918 where in the words of Alf Teare: ’She gave a fine speech on education, emphasising the need for one education authority, a school medical service, and school clinics’.
Aged only 29, she became the first woman president of the MLP for the year 1922/23.
In 1928 she married Gerald Bridson, another MLP stalwart, and the marriage was described in the newspaper as ’A Labour Union’.
She first stood for the House of Keys in 1946 in South Douglas but at that time not as a MLP member.
In 1951 now living in Baldrine she was the MLP candidate in Garff and took the second seat to Charles Kerruish. She served as an active member for five years.
In 1952 she was very proud of her role in organising the island’s first family planning committee which at that time was still a controversial issue for some. She cared for her husband as he suffered ill health and after his death lived on for 18 years herself passing in 1985 aged 92.
Emily Christian MBE is the second female to be mentioned in the book in a piece written by Elaine Christian.
I have personal experience of Emily as I attended her home on Woodbourne Road for piano lessons for a time but I was hopeless!
Emily herself though excelled in music and her career was to extend after she gained her diploma from the Royal Academy in London and returned home to teach and play a central part in music in our island for almost 50 years.
Conductor of the Ramsey Male Voice Choir for 47 years, for 42 years responsible for church choral music, 40 years involvement with the Guild, a founder member and first accompanist of the Manx Festival Chorus, a teacher of music at Douglas High School for Boys and a keen supporter of the Isle of Man Arts Council.
She was awarded her MBE in 1971 in recognition of her services to Manx music.
Leslie Quilliam wrote the tribute to Sheila Margaret Cregeen MA, an archaeologist, poet and playwright.
Her thesis when obtaining the MA in archaeology was ’Aspects of Celtic culture in the Isle of Man’.
She followed her academic studies in various museums going on to lecture extensively in the UK and teach further afield before returning to the island. Her poetry was published and the BBC broadcast her plays.
From 1970 to 1983 she was licensed by the Manx Museum to carry out excavations.
Her papers including site plans, sections and drawings, log books and diaries, general notes, reports, correspondence and small finds are available to the public at the Manx National Heritage library having been catalogued and indexed as the Sheila Cregeen archive.
Fenella Bazin writes in depth from personal knowledge about Constance Mona Douglas MBE RBV author, journalist,musician and antiquarian.
Mona had a lifelong love of words nurtured by her mother and in particular at a young age WB Yeats became very influential.
Later she moved to live with her grandparents and she would travel around the island where she met amongst others Sophia Morrison who gave her a note book, taught her the rudiments of music, and sent her off to collect stories and songs.
This friendship shaped her adult life and career.
She was very influential in the Celtic renaissance all her life and among other honours she was international president of the Pan-Celtic Festival in 1980 and first patron of the Manx Heritage foundation in 1986. She had returned to the island where she took up the position of rural librarian which she held for the next 30 years.
Mona prepared a series of syllabuses for use in schools, covering Manx folklore, archaeology, history, literature and language.
When she retired in 1963 from that position she achieved a lifelong ambition to be a journalist.
She continued to write on music,dance and folklore,was active in many organisations devoted to the Manx language and culture.
Well I haven’t got very far, only up to D in the alphabet of females who feature in the New Manx Worthies published by the Manx Heritage Foundation in 2006 with general editor Dollin Kelly, who without question would himself feature in any future edition.
He had a profound interest in all things Manx and was a very well known and respected head teacher.
His promotion of the work of our national poet TE Brown was legendary. I will return in due course to further coverage of Manx Worthies and do try and get a copy of the book if you can because the in depth stories are of great interest.
l I attended a service of celebration of the life of Olga Gray MBE last week.
The recipient of Isle of Man Newspapers lifetime achievement award, in which I was able to play a small part some years ago, she was very supportive when I was a Tynwald member.
She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list announced on January 1, 2017.
She had been a volunteer, raised money for good causes and was involved in the Manx community for many years. Her philosophy from an early age was that ’it’s better to give than receive’.
She did just that in practice throughout her life.
Her daughter Michelle lost her life to cancer and Olga dedicated her endless energy and enthusiasm to Breast Cancer Now, formerly Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
She was the driving force and established with other dedicated individuals the Gateway Drama Group and it is safe to say she was so immensely proud of what the young people achieved.
Her family and representatives of the charities and drama certainly reciprocated well-deserved credit to her at the final curtain.
David's latest column is in this week's Isle of Man Examiner, which is on sale now.