WES attends the unveiling of a new, Verena Holmes portrait.

WES was thrilled to attend IMechE’s centenary celebration of Verena Holmes, their first woman member, and one of our early members.

Verena Holmes was WES President in 1930 and 1931 and played a pivotal role in advocating for women’s training and employment opportunities in engineering.

The event, held at Birdcage Walk, was a profound tribute to her legacy and her ongoing impact on women in engineering.

The unveiling of Verena Holmes’ portrait, crafted by the talented Sally Ede-Golightly, was a highlight of the event, symbolizing the strength and determination of women engineers past, present, and future. Helen Close, WES Heritage Manager, aided in the design of the portrait by providing the artist with information from her research on Verena’s diaries. This helped Sally to get more of a feel of Verena’s taste in art and clothes! 

Elizabeth Donnelly, WES CEO, delivered a talk about Verena’s life, her pioneering work as an inventor, and the challenges she overcame. She said: “This is a historic occasion. Verena showed immense talent as a woman engineer and had a determination to succeed. She was determined to support women engineers partly because of her experience at the Institution where she had to wait 20 years to become a full member.”

We were also able to hear insights from Alice Kan CEng FIMechE, who played a pivotal role in the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

We are proud to continue Verena’s mission, advocating for women in the field and fostering an environment where their contributions are celebrated, and their potential fully realised.

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