WomenCentre has received a legacy from Doreen Pickles, a local woman who grew up in Shelf and who was described by her friends as a true trail blazer.

 Angela Everson WomenCentre’s CEO met with Doreen some years ago and although it was clear when they met that Doreen was passionate about equality for women and their education little did Angela know about the life Doreen had led. Doreen changed the world quietly, without fuss, with grit and determination and the path that she forged for herself and for the women coming after her.

Angela would like in Doreen’s memory to share some information about her life with you.

Doreen was born on the 30th of August 1924 and died peacefully on 8th December 2020. She was ninety-six years old.

Doreen was devoted to women, to their right to education, to equality and to their opportunity to realise their potential.

When she left school Doreen, like most girls of that time, went straight into the textile industry, joining Crossley’s as a clothing machinist. She was soon an active member of the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, and she became the first female shop steward and union leader in the country, She was a woman in a man’s world, She made space for herself, and devoted the rest of her life to making space for other women.

Doreen was also active in local politics, and in 1949 she stood in the County Council Elections. She was twenty-five years old, and already she was Chair of Shelf Labour Party and an Executive member of Bradford Trades Council. The following year she was a TUC rep at the International Youth Conference in Hamburg and in 1957 she went on a UNESCO sponsored visit to Norway. The local paper followed her political career with great interest.

Doreen went up to Ruskin College at Oxford University and become a primary school teacher locally.  She remained dedicated to education all her life, eventually becoming a lecturer at Percival Whitley College. Her mission was always to encourage and facilitate women’s education, she was appointed a magistrate, she was a local woman, and she stayed here in the north.

She worked hard to support the local Labour Party, campaigning for Alice Mahon. She continued to encourage other women to get involved in politics and supported them to become councillors or magistrates.

Her commitment to women’s education and access to politics never abated, she kept up to date with what was happening locally and was very impressed with the work of WomenCentre.

Women have benefitted from her hard work and dedication. She faced fierce opposition, yet never lost her good humour and innate grace, she was so very much herself, nothing could diminish her lovely spirit, and she remained wonderful to the end of her days.

Angela Everson CEO said

Doreen was an inspirational woman that I would have liked to have known more about when she was alive. Her memory will live on in our work here at WomenCentre in Calderdale as we continue to help and support local women and girls to achieve their potential.


To find out more about the work of WomenCentre  www.womencentre.org.uk