BARROW and Furness Conservatives were out in force for the party's annual conference in Birmingham, hearing a number of keynote speakers and helping to raise the profile of the party in the North West.
Women in public office was one of the themes of the conference in this centenary year of the suffragette movement, with Furness party members joining the call from party chairman Brandon Lewis to encourage more women to apply for public roles: as potential MPs, councillors, police and crime commissioners, magistrates and school governors.
Women2Win, set up by Prime Minister Theresa May and Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, were joined at their reception by Brandon, who urged more women to take up the Ask Her to Stand challenge, especially in this anniversary year.
"I want to see more women candidates applying for parliamentary and council seats," he told the packed gathering. "Politics works best when it is representative of the communities it serves. Too often, women have been excluded from having enough of a voice in places where decisions are made about their lives and I want our party to take the lead in tackling this."
Barrow and Furness deputy chair fundraising and Barrow & Dalton branch press officer Louise Thistlethwaite was among the approved parliamentary candidates helping to run the Women2Win conference stand this year.
"The atmosphere was fantastic," she said, "and we were visited by so many inspirational women MPs in the stand during conference.
"The message was very much about getting more women to stand for public roles in all walks of life - and there is so much support out there for women who want to.
"Since becoming an approved parliamentary candidate and joining Women2Win, I have personally received amazing support and guidance, from training courses and meetings, to personal mentoring and to social events and networking.
"The buzz at conference was fantastic - and it was a huge privilege to be able to hear inspirational women such as Theresa May and Ruth Davidson.
"The Ask Her to Stand campaign is having a real effect on the number of women thinking about getting involved in public life - and in this anniversary year of the suffragette movement, I hope many more women from the Barrow and Furness area will take up the challenge."
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