Wowing the people of Keighley

Last Sunday, Keighley people were wowed by an event inspired by the work of an international women’s organisation.

The Women of the World (WOW) Foundation wanted to bring their WOW Girls Festival bus to town; this has been designed to celebrate and motivate young women, girls and non-binary people with a range of interactive activities.

This news led to local arts charity, Keighley Creative, organising a number of workshops that they hoped would inspire and empower the young women of Keighley. The charity wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day whilst complimenting the work of the WOW Foundation. The event was supported by Bradford Council and funded by the Keighley Town’s Fund.

Almost 400 people attended the event on Sunday 3rd March and the feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive with comments including: “Well done. Fantastic event and well attended.” “What an awesome event.” and “Kids loved it, thanks so much.”

Activities within Keighley Creative offered a host of interesting opportunities for visitors.

A tattoo design workshop encouraged attendees to think about their identity, get creative and draw whilst local self-harm charity, Scar Cover Up Freedom Fund (SCUFF), were on-hand to provide mental health guidance.

Geo Dench tattoo drawing

A fully booked DJ workshop gave participants a taster of mixing music and the Yorkshire Sound Women Network (YSWN) gave children and young people a chance to try looping and use sound making technology.

Live music from young female rock musicians, Sorelle, wowed the crowds with their covers of songs from inspirational female musicians like Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Gwen Stefani and Miley Cyrus.

Sorelle band performing at Keighley Creative
Sorelle perform at Keighley Creative.

Local entrepreneur, Leanne Wright-Byrne of The Kindred Bizzare, ran a hugely popular workshop encouraging visitors to make “blessing bundles” which looked and smelt beautiful.

Well-known local historian and actor, Irene Lofthouse, told the story of an inspiring woman from Keighley’s past, Amyl Jenny Field, “The Red Devil” of Keighley.

Irene Lofthouse outside Keighley Creative
Irene Lofthouse performs. Credit: Beth Nixon

Local community associations also got involved in the day with women from the Eden Community Association providing henna and Highfield offering relaxing and therapeutic hand massages.

Event director, Aimee Grundell, said:

“WOW! What more can we say?! Hundreds of people came and got stuck into a huge range of activities, many of which they had never tried before. We were really impressed with the enthusiasm and positivity from the people of Keighley. We hope that we have given them some great memories and that the event will go on to inspire local people to be even more creative in the future!”

Cat Foley, the Young People’s Producer at The WOW Foundation, said:

“We welcomed almost 400 people into the WOW Bus on Sunday. We loved meeting people of all generations – on some occasions, three generations at a time! Young people used their creativity to tell us a little bit about their identity, their dreams and passions and how we can make the world a fairer and more equal place for all – not to mention having a go in the driver’s seat. Many of them wrote messages for the next young people who will get on the bus to read – so many of these messages were those of kindness, of supporting and uplifting one another and allowing people of all genders to have their voice heard.”

Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Transport and Planning Councillor, Alex Ross-Shaw said:

“We were delighted to support the WOW Girls Festival bus, through Bradford Council and the Keighley Towns Fund. The incredible turnout and fantastic feedback shows how well it was received. It is brilliant to see that it has clearly inspired so many of those who were involved.”

For more information on the WOW Foundation, please visit their website or follow their social media.