Daisy Parsons was born on May 25th 1890. She was born Marguerite Lena Millo, the daughter of Alfred Albert Millo, a dealer in jewellery and his wife, Emily Elizabeth née Moxley, a charlady.
When Daisy was eight months old, her parents moved from Poplar to Canning Town, where they decided to settle.
In 1902, when Daisy was just twelve, she left Beckton Road School to help her mother, who did extra work such as washing and charring to make ends meet, as Daisy’s father was an invalid. Leaving school was a hard decision for Daisy, but she did not let it get her down and she was keen to help her mother by looking after her younger brothers, and by doing chores for the neighbours.
At the age of fourteen, she left home to work as a maid in the household of Mr McCall, who was the Chief Librarian at Limehouse Library.
A few years later, Daisy decided to switch vocations. Wages of maids were extremely low at the time, so she decide to move to Carreras Tobacco Company in Aldgate, and it was here that she would meet her husband, Tom (Robert Stanley) Parsons, from Camden Town, who worked as a driver for Stepney Borough Council, and was an active member of the Electricians Trade Union. On December 19 1908, they married at the Congregational Chapel, Barking Road, Plaistow.
Daisy was always interested in politics, and it was this interest that led her to become a member of the National Union of Woman Suffrage or, as its better known, the Suffragettes.
The effects of the First World War were felt immediately. Issues such as lack of money for food and rent were voiced by wives of soldiers and sailors. Daisy went along with Sylvia Pankhurst to meet with Walter Runciman, President of the Board of Trade in September 1914. This meeting focused on the cost of living, the erratic food supply, and the tedious work done by women during the war. Daisy was noted in this meeting as being assertive, delivering a powerful and precise argument to Walter Runciman.
Daisy was always willing to help and was active in her pursuit to help widows who were suffering from hardship. During the First World War, she set up a Mother and Child Welfare centre in West Ham, to help women whose husbands had died in the war.
In 1936, the ever active Daisy Parsons was appointed the first female Mayor of West Ham; beating another woman, an Alderman, Mrs Bock. As mayor, Daisy drove the first Trolley bus in service in West Ham and opened the Beckton Lido.
As Alderman of West Ham, she was awarded an M.B.E in 1951; due to her commitment to public service and continuous efforts to help.
In 1957, Daisy Parsons passed away, but till this day her legacy is remembered; the large Communal Art in her memory at Hermit Road Park is testament to that.
Image: Daisy Parsons at Beckton Lido, Courtesy of Newham Archives