AN American woman who was named after Tamworth’s Saxon warrior queen Ethelfleda will be guest of honour at the forthcoming production of Tigress – the town’s biggest ever tribute to the key historical figure.
Ethelfleda Louise Skyler from Oregon is visiting Tamworth for three days this May to research her family history and to find out more about her legendary namesake. And it just so happens that the 64-year-old’s first ever trip to the area coincides with a major one-off production based on the life and times of Queen Ethelfleda herself.
Communicating across the pond, Ethelfleda said: “It has been a wish of mine for a long time to visit Tamworth; seeing the statue of Ethelfleda is on my ‘bucket list’ of things to do. “It’s amazing that our trip coincides with your festival for the Tigress Queen! I never thought I would one day make a connection with the original Ethelfleda and we are very much looking forward to it.”
Ethelfleda Louise inherited the name from her grandmother Ethelfleda Louise Lownds, who was born in Tamworth in June 1886 to Samuel Lownds and Elizabeth Kent. The couple decided to name their daughter after the Saxon queen as a tribute to one of the strongest and most influential women in Tamworth’s – if not England’s – history.
Although Ethelfleda Lownds moved to America when she was eight, the family connections to the area were not lost. She had three sons with her husband Robert Haley and the historic name was passed down to her first granddaughter, Ethelfleda Louise.
Ethelfleda and husband Tom are visiting with her brother Bob Haley – who has been on previous fact-finding missions to the town – and his wife Dorothy. Their trip coincides perfectly with the free performances of Tigress on Saturday May 9th and Sunday May 10th.
The family is now wondering whether there are any other women who share the same legendary birth name.
“I love to tell people what my first name is and where it came from and I’m so curious to know if there are any other ladies in the world today who were also given the name of Ethelfleda, in honour of the Lady of the Mercians, as I was,” Ethelfleda Louise said.
Any other Ethelfledas are invited to get in touch with the borough council’s Arts & Events team at TARartsdevelopment@tamworth.gov.uk.
Tigress will see hundreds of Tamworth performers coming together with the award-winning Motionhouse performance company for a breathtaking spectacle of dance, acrobatics and music, set against the stunning backdrop of Tamworth Castle.
The one-off masterpiece forms the I Am Dance element of I Am Tamworth and is the centre-piece of the 12-month celebration of the arts being organised by Tamworth Borough Council this year.
Tigress will be performed at 2pm and 7pm on Saturday May 9th and at 2pm on Sunday May 10th.
More information is available at http://www.tamworthassemblyrooms.co.uk/i-am-tamworth