Normally at this time on a Wednesday I'm over at CARA's taking part in her weekly meme, FreeVerse but this week I've decided on visiting AINE at The Evolving Spirit who also has a weekly meme - Inspirational Women Wednesday.
I was doing some research for another post about the PDSA - People's Dispensary For Sick Animals - where I discovered that the founder was a woman.
"A woman, so what?" I hear you say but MARIA DICKIN (pictured below) was no ordinary women - bright, confident and independent minded, it could be argued that she was a woman way ahead of her time.Born in London in 1890, Maria, the eldest of eight children, was the daughter of a church minister and his wife.
Not afraid to speak her mind and determined to supplement her family's meagre income, Maria decided to take a job - something not expected of women of her class at that time.
Then, married at 28, Maria, in need of personal fulfillment, decided on social work, where visiting the poor of London's East End, she was appalled at not only their poverty but also at the sight of the unbearable suffering of animals.
Unprepared by her Victorian upbringing for these sights, in 1917 Maria opened the first 'dispensary' for sick and injured animals in a Whitechapel basement where, whilst the world was still at war, she worked to improve, free of charge to those in need, the dreadful state of animal health.
Despite much scepticism, particularly from the male dominated College Of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), this dispensary became a huge success and Maria soon found herself having to move to larger premises. But with this success came further attention until Maria found herself forced to write to the Royal College -
'If you are so concerned about proper treatment of the sick animals of the poor, open your own dispensaries ... Show owners how to care for their animals in sickness and health. Do the same work that we are doing. Instead of spending your energy and time hindering us, spend it dealing with this mass misery.'
Yes indeed, what a woman! Intelligent and witty, she possessed all the trimmings of a 'society' wife often giving dinner parties for high profile personalities from the world of commerce, politics and the legal profession and yet at the same time not afraid to stand up for her beliefs, get her hands dirty and take on the might of a largely patriarchal society.