February marks 100 years since the suffragettes fought tooth and nail to secure change for women everywhere, we have been meeting some of the many inspirational women from the Burton and south Derbyshire area.
The suffragettes campaigned tirelessly to secure the freedoms women enjoy today, including securing the right for them to vote.
Lesley Smith, 61, a feminist historian who breathed life into Tutbury Castle, performs as historic women such as Boudicca, Anne Boleyn and Margaret Thatcher, in her personal life she has bravely battled cancer and been widowed in the last few years.
Here she tells all about why the community has played a key part in her success, what it is like to have dinner with Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff and why she is full of admiration for women and how far they have come.
Lesley said: "I have always been a historian with particular interests in Tudor medicine and women.
"I used to own a hall and after opening it up to the public I got a tremendous response. I really thought the way to engage people with history was to let them see it.
"When I took over Tutbury Castle it was a very wet day and there were hundreds of people coming through the doors. I thought I have to think of something quick to prevent carnage!
"I already had the Mary Queen of Scots costume which fitted perfectly so I put it on, got into character and that was the start of that.
"Then I started to do visits and events. I remember my first performance as if it was yesterday. It was at Tutbury Women's Institute back in 2000 and my fee was £35.
"It was quite unusual at that time for women to have that sort of job and the interest and enthusiasm just grew and grew."
As part of her role Lesley has gained much popularity for her performances of many historic women, which she says empowers her and reflects women's place in society.
She said: "At the moment I have 10 different characters and whether I love or loathe the women I play they are all fascinating and great examples of how some of the most rejected people rose up and conquered the obstacles put in front of them.
"Some of the women have been dead for 100 years but they are with me throughout and while the castle was considered a man’s place for many years it is now women who nurture it.
"I love sharing with people stories about women who have made a change and sit under the radar, and I have recently started playing Peggy Knight, an understated heroine, who lived in the shadows as a member of Churchill's Special Operations Executive during the Second World War.
"This young woman was a shorthand typist in 1944 at 24, living in north London. Suddenly she found herself recruited and after just two short weeks of training was parachuted into enemy-occupied France.
"What Peggy achieved fighting alongside a politically divided Resistance already in disarray is truly amazing, and she was decorated for her heroism by three different nations, before returning to a normal life and marriage.
"It is the first time I have risked putting a character in the public domain that people don't know about but I find it so fascinating that her modesty meant she did amazing things, saved lives and blew up trains, and those around her never even knew."
Despite demonstrating the challenges faced by historic women in her everyday life, Lesley has also had to juggle some obstacles of her own during her time at the castle.
Lesley, who is mum to son Henry, 22, said: "Like these women I have had my own fights to face but being at the castle means that the community have been behind me every step of the way.
"When I battled breast cancer and was suddenly widowed I was ill for three years while working. It was terribly hard but my performance and the love of the community helped me through that.
"I was lucky enough to remarry a very kind gentleman and when I remarried at Lichfield Cathedral, all these women turned up.
"There was a white cloak out in honour of the wedding and these omen, strangers to me who had followed my journey, were pinning it with flowers.
"I was trembling with excitement as I looked around and my wedding day was the day before my last radiotherapy session, but all I could think was how lucky I was.
"Next year will be my 20th year at the castle and it has been quite a journey, but so many people have helped me through it.
"There have been dark days with people and with illness but I have always been overwhelmed with brightness and affection from the people in the town."
Lesley, who shares her home with her husband Dr Gareth Williams, a husky dog called Maria, two cats and a parrot in Lichfield, has achieved many things in her life, including meeting the Queen, dining with Baywatch star David Hasselhoff and being made a fellow for the society of antiquaries for her role as Mary Queen of Scots.
So what is it she is most proud of?
She said: "I make the most of every opportunity that comes my way and some of the things I have done are unbelievable. To be presented to her majesty and to recently have been made a fellow, which I was voted in for, is just incredible.
"One of the biggest rewards of my job and one of the things I am most proud of is the way the people engage with my characters. I feel like I have bridged a gap between a subject a lot of people didn’t like at school and so many people have told me the same which is great to hear.
"I don't use a script I just write down what I want to say but I get so involved with it and enjoy sharing the lives of women in a way that engages people. I absolutely love my job."
Lesley is the youngest of four sisters and said she has always been "a woman's woman."
She said: "Women are empowering nice creatures who are largely very good to each other and I am proud to be one.
"I am so full of admiration for the way women have made such leaps and bounds and I want to thank the women of this nation, whose kind and generous support spurs me on every day.
"Of course there is more work to be done and I do not think it is helpful to emasculate men along the way, but we are successful in our own right and what I do shows just how much power women have."
Who is Mary Queen of Scots?
Lesley is well known for her portrayal of Mary Queen of Scots who was queen of Scotland and France, and a dangerous claimant to the English throne.
She was a great beauty, and very well educated, but was a fool for men, something her cousin and rival Elizabeth I the Queen of England was careful to avoid.
After being forced to flee from Scotland by her rebellious subjects, Mary was held prisoner at various properties in the Midlands and Yorkshire.
Among these, her most hated was Tutbury Castle, where she was held on four occasions. It was here that she became embroiled in the plots which were eventually to cost her life.
She left Tutbury for the last time in 1585 when she was moved to nearby Chartley. There she was arrested and sent to Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire where she was executed in 1587.
Do you know a Burton or South Derbyshire woman who shows suffragette spirit?
- To nominate an amazing woman from your local area, please visit www.amnesty.org.uk/suffragettespirit
- All women must have carried out work to help others their local area within the last 10 years. All successful nominees will be contacted to give consent prior to being placed on the Suffragette Spirit Map of Britain. This campaign has been funded by People's Postcode Lottery.