On Saturday 23rd March 2024, a large crowd watched the ceremony commemorating Mary Hare*, at 17 St Michael’s Place, the site of her home and pioneering school for the deaf. The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr Jackie O’Quinn, presided, saying ‘March is International Women’s Month globally, and the theme this year is ‘inclusion’.  And the woman we are celebrating here today, Mary Hare, was very much about ‘inclusion’ in all aspects of her work.’

The campaign for the plaque was led by Brighton & Hove Women’s History Group ((B&HWHG) member Margaret Stewart, herself once a deaf pupil at the Mary Hare School. Margaret – a lifelong Brightonian – lobbied and fundraised tirelessly for the plaque and organized the event with the support of B&HWHG. Also speaking were Robin Askew, Headmaster of the Mary Hare School, now located in Newbury and the largest special school for the deaf in the country. Superintendent Petra Lazar, of the Sussex Police. marked Mary’s establishment of a volunteer Women’s Police Force in Brighton during the First World War;and Maria Hogg reflected on the work of Mary as a champion of women’s rights, and the present day activities of the B&HWHG..

Also in attendance, courtesy of speaker Victoria Garcia, CBE, was a Brighton bus, emblazoned ‘Mary Hare’. Named buses are a tradition in the City, and this particular one was also successfully lobbied for by Margaret.  It added much to the sense of occasion and excitement on the day.  There were many members and representatives of the deaf community present, and the speeches were interpreted expertly throughout by volunteer Lesley Russell.  A violent hailstorm just after the unveiling dashed the formal photocall, but provided a dramatic climax to the ceremony.
*See the short biography of Mary Hare under our ‘Notable Women’ section.

Margaret Stewart, blue plaque champion and the Mayor.

Margaret Stewart, Maria Hogg and the Mary Hare bus.

There was considerable interest by local press, with Margaret being interviewed on BBC Radio Sussex, a featured article on the BBC Radio South East site, and excellent coverage of the event in the Argus.

Coverage in the Argus and elsewhere.
B&HWHG Committee and members on the steps.

by Sue Delafons