Happy New Year! We had a great 2018, and we're really looking forward to the year ahead. We've got lots of plans for the project, and can't wait to get started!
One of the things we're most looking forward to is working with like-minded people who share our interest in celebrating and supporting women's involvement in politics and activism. So we're absolutely delighted that we're going to be working the Women's Banner Group. The Group is based in Durham and is led by the terrific Laura and Lynn.
We're hoping to have a joint event up in Durham in the early part of the year - we'll let you know as soon as we have more details. In the meantime, we wanted to share some more information about the Women's Banner Group, and would encourage you to check out their website or Facebook page to learn more.
The Women's Banner group
The Women’s Banner Group was set up by social and political women’s activist Laura Daly in response to the commemoration of 100 years since Suffrage. Laura's goal was to have the achievements of women recognised as an important part of Durham's history and success. Joined by fellow local activist Lynn Gibson, the journey to form the group began.
The Group identified a need for female representation and celebration in the region, and wanted women's role reflected in the Durham Miners’ Gala. The Gala is one of the world’s biggest annual gatherings, held on the second Saturday in July, and is associated with the region’s coal mining heritage. It has now grown into ‘Europe’s’ or ‘one of’ the world’s largest socialist gatherings, comprising not only all of the traditional coal mining banners, but banners and flags from trade unions and socialist societies.
The 2018 Durham Miner's gala
The work to design, create and promote the group brought on board creative quilter Mary Turner and local activist Heather Wood who was heavily influential in forming the Free Cafés of Easington and beyond during the 1984 miners’ strike. With legends like these attached to the project it was sure to be a huge success.
Over a dozen women’s groups from all backgrounds throughout the region became involved to help design a full sized patchwork banner to fly at the 2018 Gala. The project brought together over 60 women with varying passions and ideas, as well as activists from many different causes which the Women’s Banner Group was happy to share and campaign alongside.
Not only did the group become affiliated with the Durham Miner's Association, their banner was blessed at the historical Durham Cathedral service following the Gala; a huge honour which truly celebrated the work these women, and the women who inspired them, had done. The attention the group gained was true testament to how necessary it was for women to have an outlet for their campaigns, a place to find support from other women, and somewhere to celebrate each other.
The success of the group has meant this year’s plans are even bigger. This year, they're hoping to raise enough funds to commission a full miner's sized silk banner to be designed and created by the incredibly talented Durham Bannermakers. The Group has other ambitious projects including erecting a blue plaque in honour of a woman (currently in County Durham the only blue plaques are for men or buildings); completing a book of inspirational women; and are even looking into developing a female statue to represent women’s struggles in the area.
The Group will be working with school children across the County on workshops they have created to encourage creativity, activism, and knowledge of historical struggles, with the hope they will find this empowering.
The Women’s Banner Group and the Remembering Resistance Project are really looking forward to collaborating in 2019. Early in the new year, we're planning to hold a mock hustings event where we'll invite women to “pitch” for their chosen Inspirational Woman to be commemorated on a blue plaque.
We'll let you know more about this as soon as we have the details. In the meantime, here's to a wonderful 2019!