Essex girls are fighting back with humour against old stereotypes, with a little help from a pillar of the county community.

Former Queen’s messenger George Courtauld, 74, is chairman of the Essex Women’s Advisory Group (EWAG), which seeks to disprove the negative Essex girl image.

A light-hearted book, Essex Girls’ Limericks, has been published to raise money for the Essex Girls Fund, which gives grants to community causes and tackles issues such as domestic violence and mental health.

Mr Courtauld, of Colne Engaine, is part of Braintree district’s most successful industrial families.

He worked within the Courtauld company for 15 years before taking on a variety of dignitary roles, including becoming High Sheriff of Essex.

Mr Courtauld said: “Most Essex females are indifferent to the stereotype, but an understandable proportion is not.

“As High Sheriff I toured the whole county during my year and was surprised at how often this subject was raised.

“Ten per cent of the County’s population commutes to London and there, in the City particularly, our Essex girls found their treatment ranging in nastiness, from the merely exasperating, through the hurtful, to the bullying and frightening."