Viva Juanita, Honiton's heroine

She was a first in so many ways that Juanita Maxwell Phillips importance stretched far beyond Honiton, the town she loved and devoted the bulk of her life to.

She was a 'first' in so many ways that Juanita Maxwell Phillips' importance stretched far beyond Honiton, the town she loved and devoted the bulk of her life to.

A suffragette, who became not only a councillor but Mayor of Honiton almost as soon as women were given the vote, she played a pivotal role in the life of the town for decades.

Without her foresight, enthusiasm and innovation, many of the things that residents take for granted today, including Allhallows Playing Field, may never have materialised.

She was a leader in a world dominated by men, never afraid to pursue a worthy cause, and became the figurehead of Honiton's war effort.

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Such was her passion for England that she gave up her beloved Little Theatre, from where she ran the Food Office with military precision.

In all, she was Mayor of Honiton a record 11 times.

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But her interests stretched beyond the boundaries of her civic duty. Even before the Second World War broke out, Juanita recognised the importance of global markets and international relations.

When she retired from public life, her numerous good deeds seemed to fade in the town's memory.

All that is about to change - thanks to Honiton Players.

They are staging Viva Juanita, a This Is Your Life-style play about the remarkable true story of a woman's courage and determination.

You can see the play performed in Juanita's former theatre, now Meadow View Chapel, in King Street, on April 23 and 24. Evening performances are at 7.30pm. A matinee performance will be staged at 2.30pm on April 24.

Tickets cost �5 (�4 for OAPs) and are on sale now at Honiton Toy Shop and A Dimond & Co.

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