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EAST DEVON: Seaton club members learn about Honiton’s 11-times mayor and suffragette

Thursday, 15 May 2014


TONY Simpson, former secretary of Honiton Senior Voice, who has researched Juanita Maxwell Phillips’ history and been closely involved with a book entitled “Viva Juanita” about her, gave a most interesting talk to members of the Seaton & District Men’s Probus Club. He focussed on Mrs Phillips’ involvement in the General Strike, which also gave an in-depth picture of how the strike affected East Devon. Juanita Maxwell Phillips OBE, 1880-1966, was born in Chile and lived there until her family moved to London. She became a suffragette and campaigned for Mrs Pankhurst, moving to Devon on her marriage where she became the trail-blazing Mayor of Honiton 11 times. Her interests were wide and her achievements remarkable – she built her own theatre in Honiton and supported a variety of charities, including those for disabled children and cancer sufferers. She played an active part in the work of the War Office during First World War, dealing particularly with the families of the fallen soldiers. For the General Strike of 1926, Mrs Phillips held a powerful position at the Organisation for Maintenance of Supplies, ensuring that food supplies and transport were maintained in East Devon. This experience was utilised in the Second World War when she was responsible for issuing identity cards, ration books, organising evacuation and co-ordinating the work of organisations such as the WRVS and the WI in East Devon. This was the last formal meeting of Seaton & District Probus Club before the summer break - from May to September there will be regular coffee get-togethers, informal dining out in Seaton and organised trips. The club for retired or semi-retired professional men welcomes new members and Keith West on 01297 624374 will be pleased to provide further information.

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