Teenager Catherine Flint will be casting her first vote in a General Election when she goes to the polls tomorrow - and she has more reason than most for cherishing the opportunity.
For Catherine’s great grandmother was a suffragette who fought for women’s rights more than 100 years ago.
And Catherine, an A-level student at Collyer’s College in Horsham, will be taking her great granny’s beloved brass and green enamel suffragette badge with her as a symbol of political freedom when she goes to the polling station to cast her vote.
Naturally, in view of her campaigning ancestor, 18-year-old Catherine urges everyone to use their vote. “I think it’s very important to make your voice heard,” she said.
Catherine’s father Nick Flint, rector of Rusper and Colgate, first discovered that his grandmother was a suffragette - a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union - only after her death when he was aged around 12.
Among memorabilia at the home of his grandmother - Eliza Simmons - was the special badge and a photograph of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.
Nick said that Eliza, who worked ‘in service’ in London, would have put on her sash and badge to join fellow suffragettes on the morning of November 18 1910 on their way to protest at the House of Commons. She was one of 300 who protested that ‘Black Friday’ after Prime Minister Asquith decided not to make time for discussion of a Bill that could open the way to giving women the vote.
Said Nick: “The peaceful demonstration was brutally put down by the police. 200 women were assaulted and over 100 arrested, and although it is not clear whether Eliza was among the latter, family tradition says she was imprisoned during the campaign.”
And as she casts her vote tomorrow, Catherine - who wants to study politics and history at university - will be marking with pride the part played by her own family in making it all possible.