|Father Trevor Huddleston by David Litchfield, 2011.|
So, we decided we would run an election. We made a shortlist of candidates. Borrowed a genuine ballot box and created some campaign leaflets for our candidates. Our shortlist was by no means a comprehensive list of Great Bedfordians, so we allowed our voters the opportunity to nominate some new Bedfordians if they preferred.
We wanted to find out which of the stories resonated most with people today and why. The information and comments we collected will help us during the planning of the People Gallery which will host changing exhibitions about the people of Bedford and its surrounding borough. Some of them will be the famous names we are all familiar with, but there is also space for less well known stories and even some contemporary 'Great Bedfordians'.
Our shortlist included:
- Amy Walmsley - Suffragist and Headmistress of the Froebel School
- Charlotte Bousfield - temperance advocate and diarist
- Colonel Frederick Burnaby - Victorian adventurer
- Etienne Stott - Olympic gold medallist
- Father Trevor Huddleston - anti-apartheid campaigner
- Frank Wild - polar explorer
- James Howard - agriculturalist, inventor and politician. Founder of Britannia Iron Works.
- Joe Clough - taxi driver and war veteran
- John Howard - prison reformer
- Margaret Beaufort - Mother to Henry VII
- Sir William Harpur - philanthropist and Lord Mayor of London
- W H Allen - engineer
You can read all about our Great Bedfordians on this PDF
Trevor Huddleston won our election by a significant margin. Here is what you said about him:
'Horizons so far beyond Bedford' 'He has been and is an inspiration' 'A man who wasn't deterred by danger to himself.'
Three candidates were tied for second place: William Harpur, WH Allen and Margaret Beaufort.
Many people commented that they owed their education to the kindness of William Harpur. And many visitors said they had worked for WH Allen and said he had 'given Bedford prominence and made them known throughout the world.' Margaret Beaufort's story earned respect and interest from many as she had 'dominated during a time of male power.'
We had some great nominations for Bedfordians not included in our shortlist as well. These included
and many more...
- Ronnie Barker - comedian,
- Jack Beresford - olympic oarsman,
- Colonel Nicolls - who named New York,
- David Jackson - Head Teacher of Sharnbrook Upper School for many years,
- David Litchfield - illustrator and musician,
- Johnny Parry - composer,
- Mo Lea - artist that campaigns for Victim Support
and many more...
We had great fun running this election. We'd like to thank all of the participants that cast their vote and came to talk to us as well as saying a big thank you to our hosts, St Paul's Church. Hopefully, we'll get to run some more elections soon.