Celebrated annually, March 8, is a day dedicated to honouring the achievements of women around the world and raising awareness of gender bias.

Known as International Women’s Day, people come together to celebrate women, lobby for gender equality and fundraise for female-focused charities.

Women in Ayrshire, both past and present, have been succeeding in their fields for many years. Here are some of the best to celebrate this International Women’s Day:

Nicola Benedetti

Born in West Kilbride, Nicola Benedetti has taken her classical violin skills across the globe, picking up prestigious awards along the way.

The musician’s recording of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto and Fiddle Dance Suite won her a Grammy for Best Classical Instrumental Solo last year.

Benedetti has been involved in classical music from a young age, picking up her first violin at the age of five.

Over the years she has collaborated with orchestras in London, Leipzig, New York and San Francisco.

She also performed at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an event which attracted a TV audience of 9.4million.

Irvine Times:

Edith MacArthur

Ardrossan’s Edith MacArthur was best known for her role as Elizabeth Cunningham in Take The High Road.

Born in 1926, the former Ardrossan Academy pupil went on to study at the Royal College of Music in Glasgow with the intention of becoming a teacher.

During World War II, Edith worked at the Admiralty Map Correction Station in Ayrshire.

After Edith’s passing in 2018, former Doctor Who actor David Tennant was one of many to pay tribute. Edith predicted she would share the stage with Tennant after meeting him when he was 10-years-old; the pair performed together in A Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Hay Fever at the Lyceum in 1987.

Irvine Times:

Rose Reilly

Born in Kilmarnock in 1955 and brought up in Stewarton, Rose Reilly is seen as a trailblazer in women’s football.

At the age of seven, Reilly cut her hair short and called herself ‘Ross’ in order to play for her local boys’ club, Stewarton United.

Rose was banned by the Scottish FA in the 1970s after she criticised the body’s objection to UEFA’s decision to integrate women’s football.

The Scottish FA eventually lifted the ban in 1974, by which time Rose had moved abroad to play professionally.

The naturally gifted goal scorer spent a short spell at French side Reims before moving to ACF Milan in 1973.

She went on to captain Italy to the Mundialito title – an early version of the Women’s World Cup – and scored in the 3-1 win over West Germany in the final.

Irvine Times:

Kirsty Wark

A former pupil of Kilmarnock Grammar Primary and Wellington School, Kirsty Wark is a journalist, presenter and newsreader.

Kirsty joined the BBC in 1976, working first as a researcher for BBC Radio Scotland and later as a producer on television news programmes such as Reporting Scotland.

During her career, she has covered high-profile stories, including the Lockerbie disaster, and interviewed a range of politicians and public figures.

In 1990, she took part in an interview with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for BBC Two. Wark later stated that Downing Street tried to stop the event as Thatcher did not like being interviewed by women.

She presents BBC Two’s Newsnight, a current affairs show which she has fronted since 1993.

Irvine Times:

Rhona Howie

Then known as Rhona Martin, Howie skippered Team GB to gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The Dunlop native and her team were Great Britain’s first gold medallists at the Winter Olympics since Torvill and Dean’s Bolero victory in 1984.

Almost six million people tuned in to watch the final, with the team being welcomed home as sporting heroes on their return to Scotland.

Rhona was part of the coaching squad for the 2014 Winter Olympics and joined the BBC’s commentary team for the 2018 PyeongChang event.

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