The Big Meeting Documentary PREMIERE

We’re so excited about the premiere of the Big Meeting Film! The Durham Miners Gala is the worlds greatest celebration of community. solidarity and working class culture.

We are so honoured to be part of this film, the filmmakers followed our fledgeling Women’s Banner Group as we marched our community banner surrounded by the women and allies who created it and supported our movement, at the 2018 Durham Miners Gala.

‘The Big Meeting’ will be shown for the first time on Saturday June 22 before it goes on general release in cinemas later this summer.

The 94-minute film explores the meaning of the Gala and follows some of the people who make it such an inspiring event. It also includes contributions from Gala supporters including Dennis Skinner and Jeremy Corbyn.

The premiere, on Saturday 22 June, will feature a panel discussion with director Daniel Draper and some of the stars of the film (TBA).

You can join us too!

Buy tickets here

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 womensbannergroup@gmail.com   

Website at www.womensbannergroup.org.uk

Facebook at www.facebook.com/womensbannergroup,

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 womensbannergroup@gmail.com

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.  https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/

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: http://www.greatplacescheme.org.uk  @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: www.cdcf.org.uk  @CountyDurhamCF

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

April Update

Dear All,

I hope this email finds you well and I hope you have enjoyed some of the Easter sun we have had.

I wanted to get in touch to give you another little update on what has been happening with the Women’s Banner Group lately.

Blue Plaques

On Friday 30th March we held a hustings to debate and decide on a woman to be recognised on County Durham’s Blue Plaque Schemes.

The event ran in conjunction with Dr Sarah Marsden from Lancaster University, and her project Remembering Resistance, in which she seeks to remember and document the struggles and protests involving women from history across the UK.

As you know there is a serious lack of recognition for the achievements of women in our region, and beyond and this was set to be another step to rectify that.

It was incredible to hear about all the women who were ultimately nominated. Women who should be remembered, women you may not have but certainly should have been aware of.

The winner abolitionist and chartist Elizabeth Pease Nichol, submitted by students from Belmont School was actually located in Darlington and so not eligible for our County Durham Scheme. However we are in touch with Darlington Council to try to get a plaque there for her.

The next winner(s) were in fact a 3 way tie and so we have submitted applications for all three:

The 17,000 “Aycliffe Angels” who worked at the Royal Ordnance Factory during the war; decorated war nurse Kate Maxey; Bella Lawson (the founder and organiser of one of the first child welfare clinics in the County)

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/17540505.campaigners-debate-who-should-be-the-first-woman-honoured-by-a-blue-plaque-in-county-durham/

Remembering Resistance

https://www.rememberingresistance.com/

School Workshops

We are proud to announce our school workshops will be going ahead very soon. Emma Shankland of Durham Bannermakers along with the help of some of our members have put together an extremely interesting and exciting workshop to deliver around selected schools in County Durham entitled “Let Them Be Heard”, aimed at encouraging young people to debate and to be involved in shaping their own futures.

Thank you to all those who have worked so hard on this project and who are giving up their time, enthusiasm and expertise to deliver such an important message to our young people.Film Screening

Amber films are holding an event at the Side Cinema in Newcastle which will showcase our film alongside another of their fantastic pieces of work, Entitled Women on the Move the event looks set to be an emotional, heart-warming and empowering session. Please see the link below for further information and do get along if you are able.Facebook Event

https://www.facebook.com/events/2123414814445814/

Ticket link

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/of-whole-heart-cometh-hope-cant-beat-it-alone-tickets-59836861664?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=escb&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listingYour Ideas

The Women’s Banner Group is only possible because of the interest you have all shown. Please continue to support each other and do get in touch if there are any ideas or projects you would like us to become involved in or help out with, we are here to support each other and I look forward to working with you in the near future.

Huge thanks

Laura xx

International Women’s Day at Redhills

The Women’s Banner Group screened a documentary created by Amber Films about their journey from the groups’ inception to Gala day entitled “Of Whole Heart Cometh Hope” 

The film was incredibly inspiring and many of the members of the audience were pleased to see they appeared in it.  It spoke of collectivism and the amazing achievements that can be made when we work together. 

The film was preceded by emotional and powerful speeches from some of the first members of the Group who helped shape the creative direction and the heart of the group. 

L – R Lynn Gibson, Emily Thornberry, Heather Wood, Laura Daly, Samantha Townsend and Mary Turner larking about in front of the banner

Mary Turner spoke of how we are losing the rights we fought so hard for throughout history and how we are moving backwards not forwards. Heather Wood spoke about powerful women forgotten by history and how we need to remember them.  Samantha Townsend delivered a wonderfully light hearted yet detailed look at how social media plays a powerful part in activism. Lynn Gibson discussed what the group had achieved in their first year and what they hope to achieve this year. 

My speech celebrated all the women who had been involved, and talked about how women should feel proud, how women should be celebrated, empowered and supported. 

I then went on to introduce the guest speaker for the evening Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. 

Emily was visibly affected by the event and quickly threw away her prepared speech declaring it was no longer fit for purpose; choosing instead to speak from the heart.  She echoed the sentiments many of us had made and congratulated the group for what we had achieved.  She spoke at length about the disastrous choices this Tory Government have made, being responsible for unacceptable poverty and destitution of which many women bare the brunt. 

emily thornberry stood on the stage in redhills

The evening ended with a short Q&A in which we heard Emily speak of the woman who inspired her, her mother. It was a rare opportunity to hear such a personal heartfelt story which explained her true devotion to the cause of getting more women in positions to make decisions and to truly help those less fortunate for the good of the many. 

These speeches are still available to see on the Women’s Banner Group’s Facebook Page and will soon be available on their website.  

Of Whole Heart will also soon be available to purchase.

International Women’s Day for YOU

Hello again,

I wanted to email you to invite you along to the screening of our film Of Whole Heart Cometh Hope.

Each and everyone of you was involved in some way with the creation of our banner, but not only that, the creation of our community; an ever growing group of supportive women with a huge range of talents and interests. I am so honoured to be a part of this movement and excited to work together on many exciting new ventures as we grow.

As a thank you we are putting on this special screening , free for you all. Come, watch and celebrate what you have achieved and even see if you can spot yourself!!

I really hope to see you there. Here is a little more info and the link to book your place buytickets.at/redhillsdurham

Solidarity

Laura xxxx

The historic home of the Durham miners will host a special International Women’s Day celebration, featuring the premiere of a new film about the Women’s Banner Group.

The event at Redhills: Durham Miners Hall will include the first chance to see Of Whole Heart Cometh Hope.

The new documentary by Amber Films tells the story of the Women’s Banner Group (WBG), created to celebrate the achievements of women.

The film follows the progress of the group, which involves people from all over County Durham, from the start of the project to last year’s Durham Miners’ Gala, when the banner was processed through the streets of the city.

Laura Daly, WBG chair, said: “The film is a great way to mark all we achieved together, and we are looking forward to sharing it with everyone involved, and with the wider public.

“We’re sure this will be an empowering and inspiring evening and we hope as many people as possible join us at Redhills to celebrate International Women’s Day.”

The screening will be held in the magnificent Pitman’s Parliament at Redhills, the home of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA). The DMA recently launched The Redhills Appeal to renew its historic home as a centre for education, culture, and heritage.

Ross Forbes, DMA Programme Director, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the Women’s Banner Group to Redhills to mark International Women’s Day, and are proud that we will help celebrate the immense contribution and achievements of the women or our communities and our movement.

“The event is in keeping with the aims of The Redhills Appeal – to return the miners’ hall to the people, and to provide our communities with a place of their own.”

After marching at last year’s Gala with a patchwork banner, the WBG are fundraising for a traditional painted silk banner to parade at this year’s Big Meeting, on Saturday July 13.

The event takes place at Redhills: Durham Miners Hall, Flass Street, Durham on Friday 8 March at 7pm. The evening will also include a Q&A with filmmakers and members of the WBG, guest speakers and a licensed bar.

The event is free, but voluntary donations would be welcome. Any money raised will be divided equally between the Women’s Banner Group and The Redhills Appeal.

To register for free tickets, go to buytickets.at/redhillsdurham

Best wishes,

Laura

Laura Daly

Founder

Blue Plaques – Action needed for 30th March!

Hi All,

I hope you are all well. 

I am contacting you today to ask if anyone is willing, able or keen on submitting a woman to be remembered on a Blue Plaque in the County.  It is so very important that women are remembered in this way as we have historically achieved many great things.

Please send us an email and we will forward over the guidelines. I would be most grateful if any of you would be willing to propose and/or second someone.

The 30th March will be the day we hold a vote the room in Redhills is booked between 12pm and 4pm, it looks as though Laura Pidcock will be chairing the session too.

Thanks so much

Best wishes,

Laura

Laura Daly

Founder

Laura’s August Update

Hello Ladies,

I am so sorry It has taken me this long to write to you.  There is a LOT to catch up on!

How was Gala Day for you??

I hope it was as amazing and special and memorable for you as it most certainly was for me.  My pride levels went through the roof marching with you all and being part of something that is true history.  We were mentioned in many of the speeches, We got our banner blessed in a highly emotional Cathedral service and best of all the sun shone down on us.  I can’t wait to have you all and many more standing shoulder to shoulder in the 135th Gala!!

And so, after a much needed break, the Women’s Banner Group are back and raring to go.

At this point I would like to pay particular homage to some women who really have given blood, sweat and tears for the cause, The “committee” as they were dubbed!  Lynn Gibson whose organisational skills are unparalleled and whose meticulous planning and unwavering support got me through some crazy times, meeting her has given me a real lifelong friend.  Mary Turner, whose creative knowledge, flair and inspiring ideas created possibly the most beautiful women’s banner ever created. Her ability to get the best creativity out of women, some of whom had never done anything like this, was amazing.  Heather Wood, whose reputation precedes her, whose grit, passion and fighting spirit helped propel the Women’s Banner Group to a much wider audience; with a kind and big heart her involvement and leadership in helping families survive and her unflinching determination to fight for what is right, is the essence of what the Women’s Banner Group is all about.  Samantha Townsend who is the font of all social media knowledge and I am grateful to have had someone to help get our message across.

The Committee”

Of course there is an extended group of wonderful women who stood by me and supported me and I am so thankful to them for that. Lotte, Fleur, Barbara, Fiona, Emma to name a few.

But equally each and every one of you reading this ARE the Women’s Banner Group, are as important and essential as anyone else.  

This year I am so keen to get more and more women involved in planning, organising, bringing ideas and supporting others.  As such we have started a discussion group for everyone to have input. I am excited to hear your ideas and passions.

>>>CLICK HERE<<< to request to join

We aren’t going anywhere, everyone that was on the committee will still be involved in many of the projects and leading some also.  However, now that the group is established and gaining momentum, we are hoping to move to a wider range of women to be leaders, to be supportive, to bring suggestions to us.

If you don’t use Facebook, please always feel free to contact me via email, follow our blog, or follow us on instagram or twitter!

We have a new mission statement, pinned to the home page of our website one I hope everyone involved can get behind.  If you do have a project in mind and it fits in with this mission I am sure we can get behind it in some way.

I can’t wait to see what this year is going to bring.

Much Love and Solidarity

Laura xx

Heather’s Post Gala Day Reflections

This morning is the first time I have had a few moments to sit and reflect, John and I have had a wonderful weekend spent with good friends and comrades some of whom are still with us today.

The Women’s Banner Group, WOW I feel so privileged to have been part of such a wonderful journey, it nearly killed me mind but like the true “pit lass” I am I gritted my teeth, clung on to my sisters and I did it.


It has been some journey for all who took part in putting together an absolutely magnificent piece of art and I’m so grateful that I have been allowed to be part of “making history”.


To the younger women who took part I want to say how inspired I am by all of you and I know you will go on to do great things.


When I walked, or shall I say limped into the cathedral I was soon able to stand tall, to hold my head high, as all the women who had gone before me came into my mind, as all those strong women I was so fortunate to meet in the great strike of 1984/85 came into my thoughts and as I looked around me and saw the remarkable women of today walking beside me.


I was also reminded of my mining heritage, not that its ever far from my mind. I thought of those brave men who worked in the bowels of the earth, who paid the price of coal and who are still suffering from working in unimaginable conditions. I thought of the grandfather I never met as he was killed at Shotton pit, his dead body taken to his wife in a wheel barrow, I thought of my step grandad who died of pneumoconiosis and I thought of my own father who died as a direct result of mining, he had emphysema.

I reflected on how as a child I came to the “big meeting” how we danced in the streets, how we always felt safe and surrounded by love wrapped in the banners of our communities.


All these thoughts went through my mind in the few minutes while I walked diwn the aisle of our cathedral, as I marched through the streets of our city, as I saw in the crowd the faces of my past , present and future.

Thankyou to all who helped make those memories come flooding back.

Thankyou Mary Turner, Laura Lee Daly Lynn Gibson and all those women who on Saturday MADE HISTORY and allowed me to be part of it all.

Now I’m in tears so I must stop

WBG Update 5

Hello everyone,

Well it’s done! The banner is finished!!!

What a wonderful journey, thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you who has become involved in, interested in and excited about this group!!

I’m so honoured to be able to unveil this at Redhills with many of you there to celebrate all the hard work and effort you have each poured into it.  Your passions have really come across in such a beautiful piece of art and you should all be very proud!!!

So much has been happening, I haven’t had the opportunity to keep in touch as much as I would have liked, I hope you’re all keeping up to date with our Facebook, Instagram pages for all the latest news.  It won’t be too long before we have a website for you to enjoy too.

The most recent piece of news is that the incredible Charlie Hardwick has agreed to be our patron and she is really excited about the whole thing!!!  I’m really looking forward to working with her.


We have a couple of events still to go in the lead up to the big meeting on the 14th July.  As always it would be brilliant to see as many of you with us as possible!

First of all, our last craft get together, will be held at Easington Welfare Hall on Saturday 23rd June, where we will be making sashes, standards and roses to bring with us on the day of the march.  I am so sad not to be able to make this session as the culmination of what we have achieved this year, but there will be plenty of people there to teach you how to create these things and you can take them home as a memento of what has become an incredible group.  More info here…

https://www.facebook.com/events/206542066808733/

Secondly, we are attending the Old King Coal festival in Beamish to march one of the historic banners we have as well as advertise our group with the hopes of getting even more women involved in the future.  If you would like to come along and help us you would be most welcome. If you would like to help on the marquee please be at the Marquee Tent at 9.15am to meet us there. If you would like to come along for the march alone it is 11.30 in the Colliery Yard.  We will be there both Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July.

More details below……..

Old King Coal – Banner Parade Information

Wednesday 27th June – Sunday 1st July 2018

Old King Coal celebrates the rich mining heritage of the North East. On the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday local schools will be coming to parade their school banners.  On Saturday and Sunday we will be holding a banner parade.

Parade

You will need to pick up your banner from its location before the parade begins.  Please assemble at 11.30am on Saturday 31st June and Sunday 1st July in the Colliery Yard and our stewards will direct you to the starting point of the parade.

The banner parade will begin on 12:00pm on both days.  The parade will then proceed clock-wise around the site and will finish at approximately 12.30pm on the Events Field.  After the parade on both days you will be able to re-display your banner in its location for the rest of the event.

Entry to the Museum

We will be able to provide you and those helping to carry the banner free entry to the Museum on both days.  We will be able to provide discounted entry vouchers for £6 for members of your community who would like to come and support you during the weekend.  Please let Siân Fox know how many discounted tickets you would like and they will be distributed when you come to set up your banner. We may be able to provide insurance for the banners to be displayed for the duration of the event at the museum.  Unless specifically stated, please park at the Main Entrance of the museum.

Siân Fox on 0191 370 4320, sianfox@beamish.org.uk.

THEN, The BIG ONE!!!          Redhills Revolution: a Celebration of women.


There is a load of info on our facebook event and we have had plenty of people offer to help on our stall.  If you would like to get involved I am sure we can find a place for you, just give us a shout at: womensbannergroup@gmail.com .

We are especially interested in anyone willing to donate food for our tea tent.

The line up for this event is jam packed with incredible artists you will be sure to have an equally incredible time!!!

The whole thing kicks off at 3pm on Wednesday 11th July and continues through the afternoon and evening until around 10pm.

This will be your opportunity to see the community banner fully completed and on display  for the first time ever in the Miners Hall, where it will stay until the march on Saturday the 14th July.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you all again, I hope you’re all well.

My next update will probably be “Plans for Gala Day”!!!!!!!!!

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if you need anything at all.

Lots of love, respect and solidarity

Laura xx