A CHARD woman has been nominated as one of the nation’s great suffrage heroes.

Margaret Bondfield was the first female cabinet member and was a tireless campaigner for increased voting rights for both men and women.

Mrs Bondfield was nominated by Chard North county councillor Amanda Broom as part of the Suffrage Pioneers scheme run by the Women’s Local Government Society.

Cllr Broom said: “My family moved to Chard when I was 12, and one of the first local historical facts I learnt about was Margaret Bondfield and her link to the town.

“Her story is so inspirational, I think she is the reason I became interested in politics.”

The WLGS was a cross-party and politically independent organisation that campaigned to enable women to stand as local councillors.

They lobbied for the Qualification of Women (County and Borough Councils) Act 1907 that ensured women could be candidates for all councils for the first time.

The WLGS was revived in 2007 to celebrate the centenary of the 1907 legislation and this year it has launched the suffragette pioneers scheme to recognise 100 influential women.

Cllr Broom added: “Margaret had a catalogue of firsts in her career, including being the first women cabinet minister – Minister for Labour.

“She had an outstanding career, starting when she became the voice of poorly treated shop workers. Writing as Grace Dare, she publicly told the truth about the appalling conditions workers faced.

“She caused outrage when she stated in one article that the ideal marriage would be one where both partners would go out to work and share household tasks between them.”

While many suffragettes were trying to get votes for women, Margaret believed everyone should have the right to vote, and argued for the working classes - both men and women.

Cllr Broom said: “Her career would be inspiring today. To realise she did all this 100 years ago when the world was very different is breathtaking.”