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…


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.


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

WBG Update 4

Hello again my wonderful friends and colleagues.  This latest update is a very emotional for me, as founder of the Women’s Banner Group I have tried to bring women from all backgrounds, experiences, ages and passions together.  The response from each and every one of you has been overwhelming, we have got big very quickly!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been speaking with many of you and really taking stock of what it is we are doing.  The impact we are having is bigger than I could have ever imagined and that is in no small part because of you!

The community patchwork banner has inspired so many of you and really galvanised the respect and camaraderie women have when coming together.  

I feel it is hugely important to give this banner and your input the recognition it deserves.

It is for this reason, and after numerous sleepless nights and discussions with the Banner Makers and our wonderful Mary Turner that we have taken the decision to delay the procession of the silk baner until next year so that this year can be a celebration about the hard work each and every one have you have put in.

The Durham Miners Association are so supportive and excited about this particular banner that they have organised for it to be blessed at the Cathedral on the day of the Big Meeting and the Cathedral would like to display it for the week following.  

Your hard work and passion is truly being celebrated, and rightly so!

The Banner Makers are still committed to producing our historic silk banner so we won’t be losing that! In fact because of the sheer numbers of women who have become interested and the continuing stream of “inspirational women” emails I am getting, we have decided to hold a workshop where all of you can come and tell us how you would like our group to be represented in history.

It is so important for as many of you as possible to attend our up and coming sessions to really make the impact we want to on Gala day.

With 2018 being the year of 100 years since the vote and international year of the woman, we really want to recognise and celebrate our history.  Because of this we would like to march in the gala as a procession just like the suffragists and suffragettes did by using Standards, individual banners carried by women, as a show of force.  We are offering you the opportunity to come along and make your very own!!

We would look to include this in the sashes session, henceforth to be known as the Sashes and Standards session on the 23rd June, each women can use one of a choice of templates that Emma Shankland from the Durham Banner Makers will put together, to paint their own and also will be able to add words that mean something to them.. It will look so impressive marching with so many of these.  

I would love you all to be even more actively involved in all the exciting things we have planned.  We have a number of “appearances” coming up and are looking for anyone willing to staff a stall with us.  

Most importantly for the following:

REDHILLS REVOLUTION: A Celebration Of Women, Wednesday 11th July:

Here we take over Redhills for an entire day.  We need people to staff a stand, to speak to people about us and to help with the smooth running of the event.  This is going to be the official public unveiling in Durham for our community banner and we have some absolutely incredible entertainment booked for the day.  Help is highly welcomed.


Old King Cole Festival in Beamish, Sat 3oth June/ Sun 1st July:

We have a stall for the weekend of the 30th June/1st July and we are also taking part in their march.  This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our heritage and also to tell people about us.

Please get in touch if you are willing to come along and help out.

I will be sending some dates out very soon and please do get along to as many as you can, we are so keen for this to be as far reaching as possible!!

Respect and love to you all

In Solidarity


WBG Update 3

Hello Ladies,

Apologies it has taken so long to send you our next update.

We have been so busy organising, planning and implementing our ideas and goals. What an unbelievable response and reaction to what we have achieved so far.

I’d like to stop for a moment and thank you all for every involvement no matter how small or how substantial.  Your input has allowed the idea I had many months ago to become a reality and grow beyond what I could have ever hoped.

We are making history! We are remembering and celebrating women’s work of the past. We are supporting women and fighting good fights now! We are progressing the rights of women, empowering and encouraging women for the future. I thank each and every one of you for being a part of our history.

We held a Patchwork mop up session on the 25th March in Shadforth. The sections are coming together so beautifully. We are not far from having the whole thing completed, our first project, the community patchwork banner, will soon be done.

We have also held a meeting with Durham Banner Makers to discuss the suggestions put forward for the official silk banner.  We have chosen those to be included and we can not wait to unveil the banner when it is done.

Emma and Lotte from the Banner Makers have done some mock ups of how they see the banner following your input and suggestions, they have managed to capture your passions and ideas so perfectly it is unbelievable. Their ability to portray emotion is unrivaled and it is only since working with them I have begun to see what goes into making a full miners banner and I am even more grateful that they have chosen to become involved but more than that, they are equally as passionate about the project as every one of us.

Following on from our discussion and subsequent poll, we have made a decision on our banner title:

Durham Women’s Collective.

We have started our press for the group and have had publications in The Sunderland Echo, The Northern Echo and have been interviewed for BBC Look North.

If you would like a copy of our press release to send in to your local paper/radio or Tv station please do email us as all press is welcomed.  Also, if you do see or read anything could you send that to us so we can keep a log?

Please keep sharing our just giving page. We need to raise as much money as we can to achieve all the things we want to do.

Any fundraising is welcomed we will be discussing other options for fundraising soon.


Coming Up

On Sat 26th May we will be meeting to.discuss all the input to the patchwork banner.

I would very much like all those groups and individuals involved to come along.  

We are going to be finishing the final stitches and I would love you to be there to see the completion of your hard work.  Not only that, we are going to be asking the groups to talk about your piece and what it means to you. A chance to put on record your involvement.

Please try to get at least 1 member of your group to this meeting.

I look forward to doing more together.

In solidarity

Laura xx



23rd June. Accessory Craft Session. Easington Welfare Hall.

11th July. official unveiling. Redhills Durham 3pm onwards.

14th July. Durham Miners Gala. 8am. Market Square.


WBG update 2

Hello Ladies,

I hope you are all well.

Since my last update we have had a lot more ladies come on board so a warm welcome to you.

On the 20th January, Lynn and I attended the Durham Mining Communities

Banner Groups Association Meeting.

We were welcomed with an encouraging response and all the people we spoke to are excited and really enthusiastic about what we are doing which is great.  We are officially affiliated and are a true banner group which is huge as we are, as I understand it, the first group not connected to one pit. This is massive, we are making history here.

We have decided to set up a crowdfunding page to help raise much needed funds for the banners and our group.  I have started this and it should hopefully be set up soon. I will be sure to send the link to the page as soon as it is ready so that you can all get sharing.

update: it’s https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wbg

We have had a discussion about starting the day at Wharton Park and the difficulties this may pose, not least the increased confusion between ourselves and the women’s gala.   As a result we may look to start somewhere more central. This will also mean that Laura Pidcock gets heard by a lot more people speaking about us which will have a great impact for us.

We have Whitworth Park School Band on board and they are so excited.  They will be training on the marching side of things from now until the gala and will have a go at any songs we would like.  I don’t want to bombard them but please do let me know if you have any thoughts on pro women songs.

Someone is looking into, and is confident he can get, us to be one of the groups that stops and plays under the county hotel.  This again will be a big deal and yet another first for the Gala.

On Sunday 18th February, the members of the group who are going to be organising and running the Patchwork session will be meeting at Kings lodge to discuss logistics.  Immediately following the meeting I am having a discussion about exhibiting our banners at Redhills and potentially the Cathedral. All very exciting.

The craft session, as if you didn’t already know, is the 24th Feb at the Spennymoor Settlement.  Please arrive between 1.15-1.30. I am so excited to see you or a representative from your group on the day and put faces to all the names.

We have a lot of women’s banners on offer to display as a set with ours.  I am unsure yet if we will be able to march with them all. It will depend on

1, how many women we have marching with us and the day and

2, how able we are of carrying them.  

It may be more powerful to march just with our community patchwork banner and our official banner, when it is made.  This is a conversation we will need to have closer to the time.

I am in the process of designing and paying for our pit token to sponsor a seat at the Miner’s Hall.  We have agreed on the following wording

Durham 2018

In Unity We Find Strength

Women’s Banner Group

If anyone is really against this please do get in touch before Thursday when I will be ordering it.

Finally, it looks like we will be creating a book about the patchwork banner.  More in depth details to follow but for now if each of you as individuals and in your groups could have a think about what this project means to you, what your section represents, why did you choose it?  We will also put a list of those who donated to the group in the book too as a thank you.

The following points from my last update are still very relevant:

  • Fundraising, I would ask that every group involved hold a raffle or a coffee and cake morning or something, no matter how small, to try to bring some much needed money in to pay for everything.  I do intend to complete applications for many sources of funding but please do get in touch if you know of any or would like to help with this.
  • International Women’s Day, I would love us to be able to send a banner or a team of people to the TUC section to promote us and our ideas.  Jessie Jacobs is the TUC guru and will be able to advise us more on this.  If you’re interested please get in touch and I will make a list and we will go from there.

As always, please do get in touch if you need anything at all.  If you have any ideas you would like to put to us please do. This is all of our group and we are all actively involved so a HUGE thank you to each and every one of you!!!!

Laura Daly


WBG Update 1

Well let me start by saying Happy New Year!!

I hope you all had a brilliant festive season.

It has been a wonderful few weeks of 2018.  We have many fantastic groups of incredible women interested in getting involved in our movement!!!

I have been collecting messages from interested parties and Mary Turner is in the process of organising meeting up with the groups to discuss their input in the Patchwork Banner.

We are all booked up in the Spennymoor Settlement on the 24th February to get together and work on the project and I am so excited to see as many of you as possible.

I would like to personally and publically thank our Secretary Lynn Gibson for all the Hard Work she has done.  She has started the drive for funding which we will need to achieve all the things we want to. She has been an organising genius and I am grateful to her for everything she is doing.

I am still finding it hard to believe that my little idea from so long ago has taken on a life of its own and engaged so many women who want to have a voice and celebrate women.  I have had to call myself “founder” recently and it made me laugh. We are all part of this movement to get women supporting women on the Durham Miners Gala agenda and I am truly inspired by each and every one of you.

The Durham Miners Association have provisionally said they would love to support us.  Lynn and I will be attending a meeting about this but it looks good so far.

Also, Redhills have asked us if we will exhibit our banners the week before the Gala in Redhills Hall.  This is a huge deal as this year they are focussing on celebrating women.

Speaking of redhills, I am considering buying a seat there in our name. It costs £100 but i won’t spend that without the ok from the majority so let me know what you think.  There is a sponsor a seat to keep Redhills funded, it is a huge part of mining history and having a Women’s seat would be a big deal.

Our bank account is set up.  At the moment there is nothing in it and it is just in my name.  For transparency and for security I am looking for someone who will be a treasurer/signatory on the account.  Kathryn Beetham or Maria Cansella may be able to do this but please contact me if you would like this position.

BIG NEWS, Laura Pidcock MP has told me she would be “THRILLED” to speak at Wharton Park (where we will be starting our march) on the morning of the Gala, for us and promote the Women’s Banner Group.

Now the patchwork banner part is well underway, It is important that we start moving with all the other things we need to do.

I am looking for people to head up or be involved in the following working groups:

  • Acquiring women’s banners we can use for the march (will involve hunting for very old ones)
  • Finding a band!!! This is very important, we do need a band.  Traditionally brass but i am very open to suggestions.  We have already had a few but we need to start contacting bands and musicians about playing for us through the march.
  • Fundraising, I would ask that every group involved hold a raffle or a coffee and cake morning or something, no matter how small, to try to bring some much needed money in to pay for everything.  I do intend to complete applications for many sources of funding but please do get in touch if you know of any or would like to help with this.
  • International Women’s Day, I would love us to be able to send a banner or a team of people to the TUC section to promote us and our ideas.  Jessie Jacobs is the TUC guru and will be able to advise us more on this.  If you’re interested please get in touch and I will make a list and we will go from there.

If you do email about any of these working groups, please put the group in the subject box.

Please keep in touch.  I am always here. I am so excited and eager to have you all on board and to be working with you all.