Thursday 6 December: the Discovery Centre at Liverpool Central Library was the setting for a wonderful afternoon of entertainment for the sixty or so people who joined us to mark the end of an amazing year. We had a delicious afternoon tea, provided by Lesley Lee and her team from the Blackburne House Cafe, and before the entertainment began, everyone had an opportunity to see all the creative work on display. This included the embroidery of the 1900s Victoria Settlement, designed and crafted by members of the Clockhouse Community Centre, the creative artwork produced by members of the Well Being Group at PSS, an organisation co-founded by Eleanor in 1918, to a selection of specially designed artwork from the Rathbone Studio. There were also display boards , put together by students of Liverpool John Moore’s University, which focused on refugees in Huyton Internment Camp in the 1940s and the current refugee crisis. The local connection to Eleanor’s wartime campaigning on behalf of refugees, especially Jews, was reflected in a film commissioned by the RER group about Hans Gal, the Austrian musician who composed his ‘Huyton Suite’ while interned in the camp in 1940, and it was a thrill to hear three members of the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra play the suite, so long after it was composed, and in quite different circumstances. The film, ‘Eleanor Rathbone: a Community Pioneer’, also produced by LJMU students, was a powerful reminder of her social concerns and work, and the poems which members of the Blackburne House Creative Writing Group read, evoked her passion to help others. We were honoured that the Right Worshipful, The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roz Gladden, found time in her very busy schedule to join us and pay tribute to Eleanor, the enduring impact of her pioneering achievements and the parallels with social issues today. Perhaps the most exciting part came at the end, when Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins invited everyone to come along the following day, to Greenbank Park, once the garden of the Rathbone family home, for the unveiling of the Eleanor Rathbone commemorative artwork.
Three of Eleanor’s quotes, hand crafted in iron by Lulu Quinn, adorn the wonderful old garden wall, and will serve as a tribute and fitting reminder of her life and relentless activism on behalf of those in need, at home and abroad.
A big thank you to David Stoker and the Central Library staff for providing the venue, and to Mark Rathbone and Brabners for their financial support.