On Monday 17th December 2018 the Mayor of Malvern unveiled a Blue Plaque in celebration of the life and work of our founder, philanthropist Edith Smallwood. Miss Smallwood dedicated her life to helping women in Worcestershire and beyond. Significantly, this plaque will mark one of only 14% of Blue Plaques across the country that honour women.
Edith Smallwood made a significant contribution to the poorest women in society and her legacy endures today.
Miss Smallwood, the daughter of a Yorkshire banker, inherited a large sum of money at the age of 16 and believed passionately in helping those less fortunate than herself. She founded the Smallwood Trust, then known as the Society for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances, and began collecting additional sums of money to benefit women who, through ill-health or old age, were unable to support themselves. She also encouraged these women to help themselves by selling items of needlework such as embroidery, knitting and tapestry.
Miss Smallwood first lived in Malvern from 1897 until 1909, when she moved to London until the outbreak of the First World War. She returned to Malvern in 1916. After the war, she spent her time between Malvern and London.
Throughout this time, the Smallwood Trust continued to be based in Malvern, and it has operated for over 100 years from Lancaster House, 25 Hornyold Road, the site of the Blue Plaque. Her Majesty The Queen became Patron of the Trust in 1952.
Miss Smallwood’s incredible legacy lives on today. The Trust’s mission is to enable women on low incomes to be financially resilient; it does this by providing grants for both individual women in need, and organisations that support women, either through local projects or policy work aimed at improving economic outcomes for women.