A Green Plaque commemorating the life and work of Enderby missionary Alice Young was formally unveiled at 3.30pm on Thursday 15th October.
The unveiling, at Alice’s former family home on Seine Lane in Enderby, followed a short ceremony held at the nearby United Reformed Church, attended by family friends and relatives of Alice Young, together with a number of civic dignitaries and local councillors.
The plaque is located on a side wall of the building and can easily be viewed from the road.
The ceremony in the United Reformed Church was attended by, amongst others, Chairman of Leicestershire County Council Bill Boulter, High Sheriff Richard Clowes, Chairman of Blaby District Council David Clements, LCC Honorary Alderman Colonel Peter Roffey, and Parish Cllr. Roger Geisler representing Enderby Parish Council. Representatives of Alice Young’s family included Alice Young’s Great Nephew, Mr David North. Also in attendance were a group of pupils and teachers from the local Dane Mill Primary School.
Welcoming guests to the ceremony in the United Reformed Church, the first of three speakers, Leicestershire County Council Cabinet Lead Member for Heritage Cllr. Richard Blunt, outlined the purpose and relevance of the Green Plaque scheme in recording notable and historic Leicestershire people and places. Awards are made after nominations from and voting by members of the local community.
The scheme was announced in December 2013 and to date it has honoured social reformer and philanthropist Charles Booth from Thringstone and Burbage’s Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Rice DFC, a founding member of the RAF Dambusters Squadron. Alice Young is the third to be honoured in the current round.
Cllr. Blunt went on to deliver a synopsis of Alice’s early years in Enderby, her relationship with the church and eventually her vocation as a teacher and missionary worker in Palapye, Bechuanaland (now Botswana). Alice was born in 1867 and travelled out to South Africa in 1893, aged just 26yrs old. She taught reading, writing and arithmetic and of course her Christian values and beliefs.
Before handing over to Alice’s great nephew, Mr. North, Cllr. Blunt remarked that it was an interesting fact that 90% of the population in Botswana profess Christianity.
Mr. North thanked Cllr.Blunt for his introduction and went on to thank all those involved in getting to this point, individually Judith Hall, Chairman of the Enderby parish Council who nominated Alice, and the Parish council members. He also thanked Mr. and Mrs Grundy on who’s house the plaque is displayed.
Mr. North explained that Alice spent five years training as a teacher and some of that time was spent as Assistant Mistress here in Enderby. He gave the audience a glimpse into Alice’s relationship with the tribal chief King Khama, who was so impressed with her work that he backed a project to build a school and ” ….within 3 months 190 children were in attendance”.
In 1895, King Khama travelled to Britain to ask Queen Victoria for her support in protecting his country from colonialists who were stripping it of its wealth. While in England, King Khama fulfilled his promise to Alice Young by visiting her family in Enderby.
Mr North quoted from a newspaper article of the time:
“The three Princes arrived at the Midland Station. A large number of officials welcomed them. Alice Young’s father and brother were given pride of place. They proceeded in two vehicles, a carriage and a two horse brake wagonette to Enderby, the occasion was made a general holiday”.
As the party turned into the road to the village the vehicles were mobbed by cheering schoolchildren who ran alongside. A crowd had gathered outside the Parish Church and they were welcomed by local dignitaries. They had lunch in the xcho9olroom next door before going to the family home in Seine Lane.
The ceremony concluded with the final speaker, Parish Councillor Roger Geisler, who thanked the previous speakers and said he was pleased to be representing Enderby Parish Council at the ceremony. Cllr. Geisler invited everyone to try and place themselves on the village streets and imagine the atmosphere during what was essentially a “royal visit” as King Khama and the party visited the local churches, took a meal in the schoolroom and met with several local people.
Alice’s story could now join records of other notable Enderby places and personages which are due to feature on a ‘Village Map’ being prepared for the village centre.
Everyone then departed to walk the short distance to the site of the plaque on Seine Lane, and the Unveiling of Green Plaque by Councillor Blunt, Mr North and Councillor Geisler.