Well done to everyone who has contributed to the project. We are so proud to let you know that we’ve been nominated for a Living North Award! That’s pretty much all the information we have so we look forward to more announcements from Living North! 😀
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).
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
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
County Durham Community Foundation was
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
YOU ARE INVITED! to join us for the PREMIERE of our film, “Of Whole Heart Cometh Hope” is the story of the banner, the women who made it, how the project was inspired by the past but speaks of our hopes for the future.
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!!
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
The event at
Redhills: Durham Miners Hall will include the first chance to see Of Whole
Heart Cometh Hope.
documentary by Amber Films tells the story of the Women’s Banner Group (WBG),
created to celebrate the achievements of women.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.