Funding for School Workshops and Silk Banner!

The Women’s Banner Group have received funding from the Northern Heartlands Foundation and the National Lottery Heritage Fund to run a series of school workshops and commission a silk banner for next year’s Durham Miners’ Gala.

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Women’s Banner Group march their community banner at the 2018 Durham Miners Gala

The Women’s Banner Group was founded in November 2017 by Laura Daly to gain recognition for the important historical role of the women of the Durham Coalfield who have previously been forgotten, to recognise the diversity of the roles, activities and backgrounds of women in County Durham today and to celebrate the many different ways in which women support each other and their communities.

‘in unity we find strength’

In 2018 the group created a community patchwork banner involving 12 local women’s groups with over 50 women contributing to the creation of the banner.  The Women’s Banner Group were accepted as an official banner group by the Durham Miners’ Association in 2018, and were the first ‘all women’ banner group to do so.  The banner was marched in the Miners’ Gala in 2018 and had the honour of being blessed in Durham Cathedral.

Following the completion of six months engagement activity in 2018 with women from all over County Durham, an open consultation was held to identify Women’s Banner Group’s key aims for 2019. Two main desired outcomes emerged.  Firstly the commissioning of a traditional silk banner that would eliminate the invisibility of women, past and present, and symbolise their local and national achievements and secondly to begin an education programme that would emphasise the legacy of women and young people in decision making and encourage pupils to express, debate and voice their opinions in a creative environment.

In 2019, 150 years of the Durham Miners’ Association will be celebrated. As evidenced in the open consultation if was felt that the contribution of women during this period is unrecognised within the traditional art form of silk banners.  Silk Miners’ Lodge banners are paraded each year at community events, heritage days and most visibly at Durham Miners’ Gala when over 200,000 people parade banners on the cobbled streets of Durham.

Women of note are represented on less than five out of the 185 recorded Lodge banners in existence.

Planning sessions were also held in relation to the education programme with WBG members where it was decided to deliver workshops to Year 5 or 6 pupils. The workshops, designed by Emma Shankland of Durham Bannermakers, include information on influential women of our past and present, including lesser known local activists, and give pupils an opportunity to become decision makers and architects of a new society by becoming Ministers for Equality, Health, Social Services, Welfare, Housing and Education in a role play exercise.  

Following the consultation meetings, in early 2019 the Women’s Banner Group submitted an application to the Northern Heartlands Community Initiative Fund at County Durham Community Foundation for financial support to run five workshops in primary schools in the Durham Coalfield.  Following the success of the Heartlands application, a second application was submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the commission of a traditional silk banner, which we are extremely pleased to say has also been successful. 

Members of the Women’s Banner Group have been delivering the workshops since mid-May and will deliver workshops in Toft Hill Primary School, Willington Primary School, St Chad’s Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School and St Johns C of E Primary School by early June. The workshops will culminate in the creation of a small square of proggy mat (a traditional craft of the Durham Coalfield) by each of the school pupils that will be added to a large scale artwork based on selected imagery identified in the workshops at an event at Redhills, the home of the Durham Miners’ Association in Durham City on July 5th 2019.  Once the event is over, the workshops will be available on the Women’s Banner Group website as a free downloadable toolkit for schools.

The silk banner will be produced by Durham Bannermakers and will be unveiled at an event on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2020 also in Redhills. 

WBG Secretary Lynn Gibson said:

“We are totally overwhelmed that we have secured the funding to produce a silk banner for the 2020 Durham Big Meeting.  I have attended this historical event all my life, and to see the historically important women of the Durham Coalfield being recognised officially in the Big Meeting is amazing”.

If you would like to join the Women’s Banner Group we would also be very happy to hear from you.  We can be reached at:

Emails to   

Website at

Facebook at,

Twitter at @BannerWomen

Instagram at @womensbannergroup

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Further Information for Journalists

Women’s Banner Group

Key contact, Laura Daly, founder of the Women’s Banner Group

National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Lottery Heritage Fund use money raised by players of the National Lottery to inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Northern Heartlands is the Durham Great Place Scheme.  The Great Place Scheme, using funds raised by the National Lottery, is being piloted in 16 locations across England. Funding comes from National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, each of which are contributing £10m for projects lasting up to three years.  There will also be complementary support from other organisations where relevant, such as Historic England through its Heritage Action Zone initiative. The Northern Heartlands area includes all communities in the AAP areas of Teesdale, Weardale, Three Towns and Bishop Auckland & Shildon.  More information on the Great Place Scheme is available at:  @HeritageFundUK  @ace_thenorth  @HistoricEngland

County Durham Community Foundation was established in 1995, County Durham Community Foundation is an independent grant-making charity. We promote lasting charitable giving, by bringing together donors with their chosen causes, through well targeted grants that make a genuine difference to the lives of local people, acting as a vehicle for individuals, families and companies who want to put something back into their local community, either in their lifetime, or through leaving a legacy. Since 1995, County Durham Community Foundation has made grants over £35 million to groups and individuals across County Durham & Darlington on behalf of our donors. We currently manage around 220 funds which are all unique and tailor-made to suit the donor. For more information contact us on 0191 378 6340; or visit the website:  @CountyDurhamCF

note for press – please make sure any stories published contain mention and logos of our funders.

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