Blue plaque honouring Exmouth’s Edith is unveiled
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 September 2017
A blue plaque honouring Exmouth’s first OBE recipient has gone on display at the site of her former school.
The plaque commemorating Edith Pratt, who received the honour during World War One, was unveiled at the previous location of Southlands School, which she attended, by Exmouth mayor Brian Cole.
Edith’s plaque was unveiled exactly 100 years to the day after news of her OBE, for service as a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, was listed in The Times.
The event, which took place what is now The Swallows Guest House in Carlton Hill, was attended by members of interested groups including the Exmouth Civic Society, which is responsible for the town’s blue plaques, the Exmouth Historical and Archaeological Society, Exmouth Family History Club and Exmouth’s U3A History Group, along with David and Rachel Coulson-Lowes, the owners of the guest house, who gave permission for the plaque to be installed.
The event was also attended by Stuart Woolger, manager of the Bristol Schools Camp at Orcombe Point, which uses land donated by Edith for young people to enjoy, and he gave a talk about how to this day children continue to benefit from her legacy.
Daphne Barnes-Phillips, who led efforts to have a plaque dedicated to Edith, said at the event: “It’s really great to see so many people here honouring Edith.”
Daphne told those present that historian Brian Worts had previously tried to get a plaque installed at Edith’s former family home at Pratshayes, now owned by the National Trust, but this had proved unsuccessful, which is why she decided to approach The Swallows.
Daphne, who became interested in Edith after attending a talk by Brian about her life, also read out an article printed in the Southlands School magazine’s autumn 1917 edition, in which the headmistress congratulated Edith on the honour.
Edith received her OBE just months after the award had first been established by King George V.
She went on to serve in the Women’s Royal Air Force, achieving the rank of deputy commander.
Her family’s estate at Pratshayes was donated to the public following her death in 1959.