Vote for Enderby Missionary Alice Young!

alice_young-1Enderby Parish Council is urging people to support its nominee as a shortlist for Leicestershire County Council’s green plaque awards scheme is revealed.

The 12-strong shortlist includes Missionary Alice Young (pictured left) who was born in Enderby in 1867.

The nomination is in recognition of the Enderby woman whose mission it was to help with the education of children and young people both here and overseas.

By the age of 15yrs, Alice was already showing an interest in education, winning an award in the Diocesan Education Prize Scheme.

She was an assistant mistress in the National School. The School logbook shows that she was excused from school in July 1892 to “appear before a Missionary Committee” and again in January 1893 to take a “missionary examination in London”.

When Alice was 26, she left Enderby to travel to South Africa to carry out missionary work, especially in the field of education, under the auspices of the London Missionary Society.

She worked in Palapye, Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and conducted her classes in the church until a school could be built.

She often taught through singing, which led to the formation of a choir and as she taught the children to speak English, she learned from them how to speak Sechuana.

Chief Khama, head of the Bamangwato tribe, (1837? – 1923) was so impressed with Alice’s enthusiasm and skill as a teacher that when the new school was opened, instead of giving the key to one of the dignitaries present, he handed her the key and asked her to take charge.

Within three months, 190 children were attending the school. The pupils included 16-year-old Semane, who later became the fourth wife of Chief Khama.

Royal Visit…

In 1895, Khama travelled to England to take part in the L.M.S. 100th anniversary celebrations and to hold discussions on other matters with the British Government. He also insisted on coming to Enderby to fulfil a promise he’d made to Alice to visit her parents. Researcher Neil Parsons wrote:

“Miss Young had now been away from home for two years and was evidently concerned about her family. She was a much-admired young teacher at Palapye, who had been active in Leicester church and temperance circles prior to sailing for Africa.” (i)


In 1899, Alice married local trader Peter Arnold Johnston in Palapye.

The church was full, but because of her choice to devote herself to others in a far-off  land, the price she had to pay was the absence of her family. Alice died in South Africa in 1933.

The six prestigious green plaque awards are being made for the first time.

The County Council is asking the public to decide which nomination should receive a green plaque by voting for their favourite.

County council leader Nick Rushton said:

“The judges had a tough job but they have come up with an exciting shortlist and now it’s over to the public to decide who or what should gain recognition.”

A panel of judges drew up the shortlist following dozens of nominations from the general public and voting is now underway.

Joining Alice Young on the shortlist are:

  • Charles Booth, social reformer and philanthropist (Thringstone)
  • William Henry Bragg, Nobel Prize winner for Physics (Market Harborough)
  • Graham Chapman, founding member of ‘Monty Python’s flying circus’ (Wigston & Melton)
  • The John Taylor Bellfoundry, Loughborough
  •  Arthur Newberry Choyce, WWI Poet (Hugglescote)
  •  Sergeant John Hannah, awarded the Victoria Cross (Birstall)
  •  Brigadier-General James Lochhead Jack, awarded the Distinguished Service Order (Kibworth)
  • John Theodore Kenney, artist who illustrated Thomas the Tank Engine (Kibworth)
  • The Old Courthouse, Melton Mowbray
  • Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Rice DFC RAF VR, Dambuster pilot (Burbage)
  • Henry Wills, printer of Ladybird Books (Loughborough)

Voting couldn’t be easier!

You can vote online at: or pick up and drop off a voting form at your local Leicestershire Council library.

You can also send your list of favourites to: Green Plaques, Communities & Wellbeing, Room 500, Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Glenfield, LE3 8RA.

The closing date for entries is Monday April 7.

(i) “King Khama, Emperor Joe & the Great White Queen”, Neil Parsons


Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (21 Jan 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0226647455
ISBN-13: 978-0226647456

Author information (Neil Parsons)  (Archived web page)

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