`

First women’s group set to march at Durham Big Meeting

Lynn Gibson (left) and Laura Daly of The Women's Banner Group.
Lynn Gibson (left) and Laura Daly of The Women's Banner Group.

The first all-female group is set to march with their banner at Durham Miners’ Gala.

A new group, celebrating the diverse role of women in County Durham’s history, are producing a patchwork banner.

Women working on craft projects for the patchwork banner.

Women working on craft projects for the patchwork banner.

The Women’s Banner Group is the first all female banner group to have been officially accepted by the Durham Miners’ Association.

A wide network of women’s groups from across County Durham are taking part in the project, which was founded by Laura Daly, the women’s officer for The Sedgefield Labour Party.

She said: “The amount of emotion shown at the gala by everyone is immense. It is clear that the important issues faced by miners and their families during the strikes still play a

huge part in the lives of the community.

2018 marks a momentous year in which we plan to celebrate the achievements of women

Laura Daly

“But, the Big Meeting is about so much more, the celebration of communities, politics and unions.”

Laura began to wonder why there has never been an official women’s banner group and started talking with like-minded females including Heather Wood, who ran the free cafe in Easington during the miners’ strike and Mary Turner, a local quilter.

And, the idea of the a community patchwork banner was born.

Groups would draw upon their heritage and each design a section for the community patchwork banner representing their group. At the first craft session more than 40 women took part to start on the 12 sections of the banner.

Laura Daly and group members at the craft sessions.

Laura Daly and group members at the craft sessions.

A fundraising page has also been set up to raise money to create this banner, as well as a silk one which will be used at the Durham Miners’s Gala at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wbg.

Laura said: “2018 marks a momentous year in which we plan to celebrate the achievements of women in trade unions, communities and politics.

“This year is an important anniversary and so this seems a perfect time for us to begin our journey. Not only the 100 years since some women were given the vote but also 150 years of the TUC.

“These key points have been the catalyst to the formation of our group and we aspire to raise the profile of female trade unionists, politicians and community activists.” 

The first meeting of The Women's Banner Group.

The first meeting of The Women's Banner Group.

Mary Turner, said: “The patchwork banner is a wonderful opportunity for women to get together to celebrate the many different ways in which they support each other and their communities.

“The banner shows clearly what an important and significant role women have in engaging with others throughout the County Durham area.”

Heather Wood, said: “Women being accepted into, and endorsed by Redhills, truly is a momentous occasion and one to be celebrated.

“It is made even more special because of this year being 100 years since the Representation of People’s Act awarding women over the age of 30 the vote.”  

The project will culminate in a display of the two banners, plus other local women’s banners at Redhills ahead of this year’s Durham Miner’s Gala at the official unveiling on 11 July 2018.

There are still plenty of opportunities for women to get involved, including making sashes and suffragette rosettes. For more information contact Laura by email at womensbannergroup@gmail.com