Pedalling to promote local LGBT history - The Evesham Observer

Pedalling to promote local LGBT history

Evesham Editorial 10th Mar, 2021   0

EVESHAM multi-sport athlete Helen Russell took part in the Pride Out, LGBT History Ride to mark LGBT History Month.

The virtual ride saw cyclists across the country take to their bikes throughout February to individually explore their local LGBT history.

The event, organised by the Pride Out LGBT cycling group and supported by British Cycling, involved riders cycling to places with historic LGBT significance and sharing the history and photos online.

Helen, who is the most recent British Quadrathlon champion and the Labour candidate in the local County Council elections for Evesham North & West, used the LGBT History Ride to raise awareness of LGBT history in Evesham and Worcestershire.

One of the hidden pieces of LGBT history that she found and promoted is the story of William/Sarah Holtom (c.1886–1929), who lived in Evesham as a man with his wife for many years but was revealed to have been a woman during a medical procedure at the Evesham workhouse hospital.

In 1929 Holtom was admitted to the Evesham Poor Law Hospital men’s ward with enteric (typhoid) fever where it was discovered there was strapping around his chest, so he was quickly moved to the women’s ward.

The story was covered by the national press and Holtom was transferred to a private ward for privacy.

The Evesham police considered charging Holtom and Mabel, her wife, but in the end it was just Mabel who was charged with making a false statement to the Registrar of Births and Deaths at Evesham.

She was bound over to the sum of £30 ‘to be of good behaviour for two years’. Holtom died in Aston Magna in 1929.

Helen said: “The LGBT History Ride was a great initiative to not only get people cycling during LGBT History Month but also to help rediscover and raise awareness of our local LGBT history, which is so often hidden and not known about.

“There is some fascinating LGBT History in Worcestershire, which deserves to be better known.

“March is Women’s History Month and so my next challenge will be to cycle to and promote local places that are connected with women’s history, including the suffragettes in Eckington and the Women of RAF Defford.”


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