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"Miss Randall made a great contribution"

Thursday 25 January 2024

"Miss Randall made a great contribution"

Thursday 25 January 2024


A large crowd gathered as a Blue Plaque was unveiled in honour of Guernsey's first female Deputy - 100 years after she was first elected to the States.

The plaque has been placed on St Julian's Avenue at the site of Marie Randall's family home.

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Pictured: Marie Randall (Island Archive Service).

Ms Randall was born in 1881, to a family of brewers based at Vauxlaurens on St Julian's Avenue, now the One St Julian's apartments. 

She was the daughter of R.H Randall and the sister of R.W. Randall, both successful brewers.

Members of Marie Randall's own family and pupils of her former school were among those present when the plaque was unveiled on Wednesday lunchtime.

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Pictured (l-r): Marie Randall's family - Elise and Nicky Jee, Simon Crowley, Liene and Ben Randall, Nic Jee, Michelle Scott (Jackson Chambers Photography).

Ms Randall was elected to represent St Peter Port on 31 January 1924 at the age of 42. Prior to this she had been a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment in World War I and she is recorded as having nursed in Guernsey, Rouen and London. She had also been a lay member of the General Committee of the Victoria Hospital (Amherst).

Ms Randall remained a States member for 31 years, and for 24 of those years she was the only woman in the States.

During her time in the States, which included during the Occupation, Ms Randall served on a long list of committees.

Her primary focus could be seen as being winning equal voting rights for women, which she is recorded as being an advocate for on multiple occasions before the voting age for women was reduced to 20 in 1938.

Ms Randall was made an MBE in 1954 in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. She retired from the States in 1955, and died in 1965.

Yesterday, all but one (who was absent through illness) of the island's current female deputies, and past female politicians joined the crowd on St Julian's Avenue to unveil the plaque marking Marie Randall's birthplace. 

Pupils from a number of island schools were there, including a group from The Ladies College which Ms Randall herself had attended more than one hundred years ago.

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Pictured: Pupils from Melrose and Ladies College (Jackson Chambers Photography).

The Deputy Bailiff, Jessica Roland - Guernsey's first female Deputy Bailiff - unveiled the plaque, while Shelaine Green of the campaign group Women in Public Life gave a speech.

Ms Green had been instrumental in securing the blue plaque in honour of Ms Randall.

"It’s a particular joy to see so many members of Marie’s family here and, on a personal note, thank you so much for welcoming me, and the media, so warmly into your lives and homes to tell us more about Marie," said Ms Green.

"(Marie Randall) was a long-serving Guernsey politician and wartime volunteer, who, to you, was also a much-loved Auntie Tottie.

"We’re also delighted to have so many students here from the Youth Forum, St Sampson’s High, Blanchelande, the Sixth Form Centre and, Marie’s own school, Ladies College. Amazing to think she would have stood many times just where you are now in her school uniform."

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Pictured: The Blue Plaques panel comprises the Bailiff, Helen Glencross Head of Heritage Services, Deputy Sue Aldwell, Celia Nicolle, and Russ Fossey.

Ms Green explained how Helen Glencross, Head of Heritage Services for the States of Guernsey had been instrumental in securing the blue plaque for Ms Randall.

She also highlighted "another important woman in the story of this plaque", local historian, Rose-Marie Crossan whose book ‘A Women’s History of Guernsey 1850s-1950s’ was the inspiration and guiding light in putting Ms Randall's name forward for the honour.

A number of people donated money to pay for the plaque with some dedicating their donation to people who have influenced their lives. Those dedications are all available to read on the Women in Public Life website HERE. 

Donated money left over after paying for the plaque will be spent encouraging more women to stand for election to the States in 2025 so they may follow in Ms Randall's footsteps.

Ms Green finished her speech by quoting from 'Uncle Jim's' collection of Randall family scrapbooks:

“Miss Randall set an example in the States which has been admirably followed. Other women have gone to the polls and, in many cases, have topped them as she did. The public has come to have a special regard for the woman deputy and many declare that, were there more of them, Guernsey would be the better for it!

“However that may be, it is true that Miss Randall made a great contribution to island welfare. Guernsey is the better for what she has done and, surely, this is as fine a tribute as one can pay to anybody. Her charm, her good sense, her ability and her desire to do good are qualities which have endeared her to us all."

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Pictured: The Women in Public Life committee (l-r) - Shelaine Green, Linda Rolf, Christine Potter, Jo May, Martina Lenfestey, Vicky Groulef, and Paul Chambers.

Ms Green added her own thanks and praise to Ms Randall ahead of the Deputy Bailiff unveiling the plaque.

"Thank you for your service to the island, Marie, and many congratulations on the 100th anniversary of your election. May those who follow in your footsteps hold your values in their hearts."

Pictured above and top: All images courtesy of Paul Chambers of Jackson Chambers except where stated. 

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