Eight Wearsiders to celebrate on International Women’s Day

Lauren Laverne
Lauren Laverne
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To celebrate International Women’s Day we take a look at the Wearside women who’ve left their mark on the nation.

•Gertrude Bell - colonial administrator

Gertrude Bell, who was born in Washington’s Dame Margaret Hall, became the first woman to achieve a first class degree in Modern History from Oxford University.

She was an extraordinary woman who made significant contributions in so many different areas, including archaeology, exploration and the politics of the Middle East.

She developed a passion for Arabic cultures and became so familiar with the Middle East that she ended up working at a high level with British military intelligence in Mesopotamia, during the First World War. She was the only woman present at Winston Churchill’s post-war conference to discuss the future of the region and by the time of her death in Baghdad in 1926 had helped oversee the creation of modern Iraq.

•Kate Adie - war correspondent

Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell

Former Sunderland High School pupil Kate went on to become a celebrated war correspondent.

Her big break was the London Iranian Embassy siege in 1980. As that evening’s duty reporter, Adie was first on the scene as the Special Air Service stormed the embassy. The BBC interrupted coverage of the World Snooker Championships and Adie reported live and unscripted to one of the largest news audiences ever whilst crouched behind a car door.

Her most high-profile role was that of chief news correspondent for BBC News, during which time she became well known for reporting from war zones around the world.

•Denise Robertson, agony aunt and charity campaigner

Kate Adie. Picture: Ian West/PA wire

Kate Adie. Picture: Ian West/PA wire

Thousands mourned the death of Denise last year who regularly made the commute from her home in East Boldon to London to appear on ITV’s This Morning. Over the years, Denise became one of Sunderland’s most high profile and energetic ambassadors, lending her support to countless regional charities including the Foundation of Light, Bubble Foundation, St Cuthbert’s Hospice, St Benedict’s Hospice, the PDSA and the Carers’ Centre.

She also threw her weight behind local campaigns, such as supporting victims of domestic violence, attempts to save Sunderland High School and the fundraising to make WWI statue Tommy a permanent feature in Seaham, where she once lived.

•Emeli Sandé - singer/ songwriter

Emeli spent the first few years of her life in Sunderland before moving to Scotland after her parents, Joel Sandé and Diane Sandé-Wood, met while studying at Sunderland Polytechnic.

Denise Robertson

Denise Robertson

Her debut album Our Version Of Events was not only the biggest selling album of 2012 and second biggest selling album of 2013, but it was also certified 7x platinum, spent seven non-consecutive weeks at No.1 and exceeded The Beatles’ previous record by spending 63 consecutive weeks in the top 10 and selling over 4.6 million copies worldwide.

Last year she released follow up Long Live the Angels.

Her hit singles include Next To Me, Clown and Breathing Underwater.

•Ida and Louise Cook - war heroes

The Sunderland sisters saved the lives of dozens of refugees fleeing the Nazis before the outbreak of the Second World War and have been honoured with a lasting memorial to their life-saving efforts.

This year a Blue Plaque commemorating Ida and Louise Cook was unveiled at the entrance gate wall to Croft Avenue, off Chester Road, which was their childhood home.

Emeli Sande

Emeli Sande

Posing as eccentric opera lovers, the sisters repeatedly travelled to Germany during the late 1930s, where they smuggled the personal possessions of those facing persecution back with them to Britain to sell and raise funds for the emigration papers and travel documents the refugees needed to escape to safety.

Their daring exploits as double agents all stemmed from a friendship with Austrian conductor Clemens Krauss and his fiancé, opera singer Viorica Ursuleac.

•Lauren Laverne - broadcaster and musician

Lauren was raised in Sunderland and attended St Anthony’s Girls’ School and Sunderland College. She rose to prominence with band Kenickie.

Today she is most well-known for her presenting slot on BBC Radio 6 Music, and has presented television programmes including 10 O’Clock Live for Channel 4, and The Culture Show and coverage of the Glastonbury Festival for the BBC.

Laverne has written a published novel entitled Candypop: Candy and the Broken Biscuits.

She is a regular visitor back to Sunderland where her family still live.

•Steph Houghton, footballer

England star Steph Houghton has been named as an ambassador for UEFA.

The former Sunderland and Leeds ladies player, who now plays for Manchester City Women and captains the England side, has been signed up as a women’s football development ambassador.

Steph, who is from South Hetton, joins Camille Abily, Verónica Boquete, Laura Georges and Lotta Schelin in the role, acting as a role model to young females wishing to participate in football.

She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to football.

Ida and Louise Cook, who grew up in Sunderland.

Ida and Louise Cook, who grew up in Sunderland.

Steph Houghton

Steph Houghton