Transforming Communities

The Cut of Her Cloth

New music inspired by women leaders of Medway, created with local people

This two-year project run by Intra Arts and Live Music Now, celebrates ten women leaders of Medway.

Over two years members of the local community have been invited to take part in textile and songwriting workshops. This has resulted in the creation of ten banners and ten new songs, each celebrating a different woman leader of Medway.

We asked the public for nominations of Medway women who have had a positive impact on communities, particularly with innovative or pioneering work. The ten women leaders were then selected through an online vote.

Several of the songs were performed at Chatham Carnival in July 2024.

Listen to the ten songs below:

Feedback from songwriting workshop participants:

“Happy and proud of what we achieved….The Musician made sure we all felt welcome and valued. Made the session so much fun.”

“I was amazed at how Gavin created 3 different tunes based on our work. Loved that we then got to decide together which one to use and start to create a song merging our ideas with Gavin’s help. Felt so collaborative.”

“I think it’s important to get messages out to people through song.”

“Really happy… loved singing and song writing with lovely people.”

Ten Medway Women Leaders

Kathleen D’Olier Courtney – Suffragist & Pacifist

Born in Gillingham. Became a prominent member of of the
National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies from 1908, and vice-president of the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship. After the First World War, she became leading figure in the peace movement.

Listen to Kathleen’s song here.

Verena Holmes – Engineer

First woman member elected to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1924 and the Institution of Locomotive Engineers in 1931. Held a dozen patents for medical and safety devices and engine improvements. In WWII ran a programme to train women for munitions work. Set up a Gillingham firm in 1946 that employed only women, to help start their engineering careers.

Listen to Verena’s song here.

Constance Huggett – Dockyard Worker

Born in Brompton. Became one of the first women to be an overhead electric crane driver, at Chatham Dockyard, where she worked through both world wars. Worked in France behind the front line in WW1 with the Women’s Royal Army Corps.

Listen to Constance’s song here.

Lorna Wing – Psychiatrist

Born in Gillingham. Trained as a medical doctor, specialised in psychiatry, and became a pioneer in the field of childhood developmental disorders. Her work revolutionised thinking on autism, highlighting that the number of autistic people was far higher than previously thought – one in 100 rather than one in tens of thousands. She developed the idea of the autistic spectrum, and was a founder of the National Autistic Society.

Listen to Lorna’s song here

Zandra Rhodes – Fashion Designer

Born and grew up in Chatham, and studied textile design at KIAD. Innovative fashion and textile designer, considered outrageous by the traditional British manufacturers. One of the new wave of British designers who put London at the forefront of the international fashion scene in the 1970s. Founded the Fashion and Textile Museum in 2003.

Listen to Zandra’s song here.

Hilary Cooke – Equality Champion

CEO of Medway Gender & Sexual Diversity Centre based in Rochester, providing support services for LGBTQI+ communities. Chair and organiser of Medway Pride, and Medway Pride Radio broadcaster. A woman with a trans history, delivering awareness training on: gender identity, trans and non-binary equality issues, healthcare, discrimination and hate crime.

Listen to Hilary’s song here.

The Two Lindas (Linda Fiddyment & Linda Jones) – Charity Organisers

Managers of All Saints Community Project Trust for many years, transforming lives in the Luton area, particularly for young families.

Listen to The Two Lindas’ song here.

Carol Stewart – Campaigner

Chair of Medway African & Caribbean Association,
promoting awareness of African and Caribbean culture (through arts, educational and social programmes), the achievements of young people, and community support
on diversity, equality and racial harassment issues.

Listen to Carol’s song here.

Wendy Daws – Artist & Accessibility Advocate

Advocate for accessibility and innovator in collaborative sensory art. Has led creative voluntary and professional work with groups of blind and partially sighted people in Medway and Kent since 2005. Co-founder of Chatham-based, not for profit arts organisation the MESS ROOM.

Listen to Wendy’s song here.

Rachael Burford – Rugby Player

Rugby player for England and Harlequins, became a world champion in 2014, with the team earning the first women’s professional contracts. Head of Womens Rugby at International Rugby Players, first woman to be elected on the professional players board in England, and co-founder of Girls Rugby Club.

Listen to Rachael’s song here.

Musician Biographies

Gavin Alexander is an established singer/songwriter performing at clubs and festivals across the UK. Gavin writes and performs songs that touch the soul leaving people happy and enriched and has been likened to Paul Simon/Glen Tilbrook of Squeeze and Neil Finn of Crowded House. Gavin is influenced and inspired by the number of song-writing initiatives he facilitates to help others develop their melody, lyric writing, harmony and production skills. He is also a co-facilitator for Beating Time, a charity running choirs and creative writing workshops in prisons in Kent.

Thomas Harvey is an award-winning songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Raised in Kent, Harvey is based out of his home studio in Hackney, London where he lives and works out of a creative hub. Surrounded by many artists of different disciplines, Harvey has collaborated with many on various projects including his artist project, T. Priestly.

Rachel Lowrie takes inspiration from local stories and her own life. Her songs reflect her deep relationship with the Medway Towns in which she grew up. From the very real, yet liminal figure of ‘Wayside Annie’ through to the river-made-flesh character of the Medway herself, her songs explore a particularly feminine perspective on well-being, motherhood and a sense of home.

Dani Osoba is a singer-songwriter from Sittingbourne, Kent, writing mostly about home and belonging. Dani loves the area for having so much to explore, both in historical landmarks and contemporary culture and arts. It is Dani’s hope that writing music from the Medway community raises people’s opinions of the area.

Hollie Rogers is singer, songwriter and guitarist from Cornwall with a powerful voice. Known for the candid, confessional nature of her songs and for live performances that make audiences both laugh and cry, Hollie is backed by BBC Introducing and is a regular performer at major festivals like Glastonbury and Black Deer. She has supported acts like KT Tunstall, Suzanne Vega, Midge Ure and Paolo Nutini, and is a graduate of The English Folk Expo’s prestigious Artist Mentorship Programme.

Zoë Wren is a folk singer and songwriter who accompanies herself on guitar and occasionally piano. Inspired by artists of the 60s such as Joni Mitchell and Simon & Garfunkel, Zoë plays fingerstyle guitar, and writes songs inspired by her folk influences but with a contemporary twist. From starting out as a London Underground busker, to playing at festivals and clubs across England, to becoming a Twitch Partner and live looper, Zoë is motivated by the connections formed with audiences and music’s unique way of bringing people together.

The Cut of Her Cloth project was made possible with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Radcliffe Trust.

The Cut of Her Cloth

New music inspired by women leaders of Medway, created with local people This two-year project run by Intra Arts and Live Music Now, celebrates ten

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