ACTRESS Dame Harriet Walter is helping to celebrate Dorset Women’s Day in Dorchester this weekend.

The TV star and author, who has appeared in Law and Order, Midsomer Murders, and Downton Abbey, attended the event as patron of Women’s Action Network Dorset (WAND).

The group’s other patron, author and performance poet Tracey West, also attended.

WAND’s ninth annual Dorset Women’s Day at the Dorford Centre in Dorchester today helped to celebrate International Woman’s Day on March 8.

Opening the event, Dame Harriet Walter said: “It’s a great honour to be here, the event is a real celebration of women’s creativity with some brilliant arts, crafts, cakes and more.

“I have seen hundreds of smiling faces enjoying themselves, co-operating with one another and working together.

“The main aim of today is networking but support, cooperation and friendliness are also so important.

“This event has taken a lot of organising and I’m very impressed by how brilliantly it has all worked out.”

Tracey West added: “I have been a patron of WAND since 2011 – women’s day is about celebrating sisterhood and reinforcing the fact that we are really important.”

There was something for everyone at the event, from stallholders promoting everything relating to womanhood as well as workshops, including crochet, scrapbooking, publishing, jewellery making, pottery and cookery.

Stallholder Joanna Williams started her Little Craft Collectors business recently, and said the day offered a fantastic opportunity for businesses.

There was also an art exhibition by Jenna Whyman, who is studying at Weymouth College.

She said: “I have previously suffered domestic abuse and am showing my work to raise awareness of the issue as well as support Women’s Day.”

The Rummage Room was back offering the opportunity for people to donate any unwanted woman’s clothes, accessorises and books and pick up something new.

New this year was also the pamper room where those interested could treat themselves to a massage or a new hairstyle.

Mayor of Dorchester Stella Jones said: “It’s wonderful to see all the stalls here today; the day allows women to talk together and it’s fantastic the event is raising money for local charities.”

Proceeds will go to WAND, an organisation that helps countless women in crisis and works closely with the West Dorset Women's Refuge.

Chairman of the refuge Molly Rennie said: “WAND have been helping support the refuge for such a long time.

“It’s brilliant that women can come to this event and take part in free workshops and activities and it is so important that WAND get the community to continue to do this every year.”

Further information can be obtained from Emma on 01305 252204 or email wand