Memory of former Wakefield pupil is honoured with blue plaque

Pupils from the school nominated inspirational women from their community.
Pupils from the school nominated inspirational women from their community.

A pupil has been honoured by her school more than a decade after her death.

Katherine Greatorex will be honoured after pupils at St Thomas a Becket’s Catholic School voted to dedicate a blue plaque in her name.

Katherine Greatorex.

Katherine Greatorex.

As part of the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project, pupils at the school were given the chance to choose the name of a woman they felt deserved a plaque.

Eight women, nominated by pupils, teachers, parents and members of the community, were shortlisted, and the school’s 800 students were then given the opportunity to cast a vote for the woman they believed should be honoured.

Ollie Dockray, a year nine pupil, said: “I think it’s great. I had no idea there were so many women who were so inspirational and I am glad we have been asked to think about much they gave to us and how much women contribute to our lives.”

The nominees included Apprentice candidate and former student Joanna Jarjue, British Diving Champion Alicia Blagg and Betty Boothroyd, a Dewsbury-born woman who became the first female speaker of the House of Commons. Jane Tomlinson, a Wakefield-born mother of three who raised more than £1.8m for charity after being diagnosed with incurable cancer, was also nominated.

But it was Katherine who won the pupils’ votes, and a blue plaque bearing her name will now go on display in the school’s reception.

Katherine was 12 years old when she collapsed during a PE lesson in 2006. She had suffered from heart problems caused by a rare illness known as Kawasaki disease, and later died in hospital.

The voting process was part of a long-term collaboration with the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project, which aims to recognise the women who helped shape the city.

It has seen pupils from the school create poems and artwork based on historic women, and introduced them to some of the inspirational women living in the city today.

Sarah Cobham, CEO of Dream Time Creative, the company behind the FWW project, said: “I was astounded when I walked into the school hall, the hairs literally stood up on the back of my arms.

“To see the impact the project has had on the pupils was such a privilege.

“I am delighted to have been working with St Thomas a Becket’s on this project, especially as our combined efforts meant we put Wakefield on the map, once again, for honouring women with Blue Plaques.

“It is especially significant as this plaque to will go towards our goal for Blue Plaque parity by 2028.”

Headteacher Catherine Baxendale said: “When our young women first started this project some of them hesitated to share their stories or ideas with confidence, now they are sharing their work, speaking in assemblies, giving talks to their peers and are powerful ambassadors for both the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project and our school.

“I am absolutely delighted that Katherine Greatorex will be honoured with a blue plaque that will be on permanent display and in our school reception.”

Wakefield’s Forgotten Women:

The Forgotten Women of Wakefield project aims to gain recognition for the women who shaped the city.

Wakefield is currently home to around 50 blue plaques, each of which celebrates a person, place or event of historical significance. Around 20 of these are dedicated entirely to men, but when the project was launched, just four were dedicated to women.

Teachers, artists, suffragists and politicians, these women helped to forge the city we know today.

The Express is backing the Forgotten Woman of Wakefield project in seeking recognition for the city’s long-lost women.