Ivy Forster

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Ivy Forster


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Ivy Forster was tried by the Germans during the Occupation for assisting an escaped forced worker, and sentenced along with her sister Louisa Gould and brother Harold Le Druillenec to serve a prison term in France. She managed to fake contageous illness and remained in Jersey, but her sister died at Ravensbruck concentration camp and her brother was sent to Belsen

Mrs Forster was the first woman to sit in the States.

Family

Born in 1907, the daughter of Vincent Le Druillenec and Sainte Francoise Sangan, Ivy Le Druillenec was educated at Les Landes School, St Ouen. She worked with her sister in the family business, La Fontaine Stores, Millais, and then met her husband, Arthur Forster, a soldier in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry who was camping at Les Landes.

She move with him to Aldershot and their only son, Rex, was born there before they returned to Jersey and Arthur jointly founded estate agents H A Gaudin and Company.

The family stayed in Jersey at the Evacuation and during the German Occupation the Forsters helped escaped Russian slave workers and harboured one of them, George Koslov, in their attic for almost two years.

Escaped prisoners

However, it was when her sister, Louisa Gould, were reported to the Germans for harbouring another Russian than she was put on trial for her involvement, and sentenced to prison and deportation.

She was ill, and at the General Hospital Ray Osmont managed to convince the Germans that she had a contagious disease and should not travel, so she escaped the fate of her siblings who were sent to concentration camps.

In 1948 she had become an accomplished after-dinner speaker and was encouraged by the Bailiff, Sir Alexander Coutanche to stand for the States, becoming elected as a deputy for St Helier No 2 District and the first woman in the States.

She died at the age of 90 in 1997.

Ivy Forster's Occupation ID card

Further history

From Bailiwick Express, December 2023

Jersey’s "ground-breaking" first female politician, Ivy Forster, was elected on 7 December 1948, three years after equal voting rights for men and women were gained in 1945.

The current States Assembly is the most diverse in Jersey's history, comprising 43% women in total and led by a female Chief Minister. Women currently make up 51% of the Assembly's deputies – a significant increase compared to the previous assembly, where women made up only 28% of all deputies.

Born in 1907, Ivy Forster gained attention during the German Occupation when she provided refuge to escaped Russian labourers alongside her sister, Louisa Gould. The pair sheltered Russian prisoner-of-war Feodor 'Bill' Burriy for 18 months in their family business, Millais Stores in St Ouen, guided by Mrs Gould's belief that: "I have to do something for another mother's son."

The sisters were betrayed and Ivy's siblings were sent to concentration camps. Ivy served her sentence in Jersey due to feigned health reasons. After the war she was encouraged by Bailiff Alexander Coutanche to enter politics. She served two terms before losing her seat in 1954.

The Jersey Women for Politics groups said Ivy "shouldn’t just be remembered for simply being the first female politician to be elected to the States Assembly in Jersey. Her legacy is far greater than that," they said. "She is also remembered for her bravery, and that of her family, in hiding Russian forced workers during the Occupation.

"Perhaps it is this same guts and resilience that enabled her to strike out as Jersey’s first female States Member in what was very much a man’s world, and then to top the polls four years later. You cannot undersell just how ground-breaking this was for women in politics.

"The number of women sitting in the States Assembly has slowly – too slowly – increased since Ivy Forster blazed the trail 75 years ago. However, the images following the last election of almost half the Assembly being women – and of our first female Chief Minister – certainly send a powerful message to women and girls that politics is absolutely a place for them too, and the vital diversity this brings to politics is changing the world for the better."

Ivy Forster was the first woman elected, but was not the initial female candidate. In 1922 Caroline Trachy stood for election but was disqualified based on her gender. She continued advocating for reform, although her attempt to stand for election again in 1928 was unsuccessful.

Family tree

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Descendants of Yves Le Druillenec

A very matter-of-fact record of Ivy Forster's first election success
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