Women’s banner to be marched with pride as it makes Durham Miners’ Gala debut

Unveiling the Women's Group banner at Redhills, Durham, left to right, artist Mary Turner, group founder Laura Daly, Lynn Gibson and Heather Wood.
Unveiling the Women's Group banner at Redhills, Durham, left to right, artist Mary Turner, group founder Laura Daly, Lynn Gibson and Heather Wood.

A banner which unifies women’s groups will be paraded for the first time at today’s Durham Miners’ Gala.

The Women’s Banner Group has created a display made up of patchwork pieces, reflecting the heritage, passions and ambitions and their important role across County Durham.

Now we’re all together, this is just the beginning and we’ve got lots of projects planned for the future.

Heather Wood

It was unveiled at a launch held at Redhills, the headquarters of Durham Miners’ Association, as part of the Education4Action fringe events and will be paraded through the city as part of the Big Meeting before it is blessed at the cathedral.

The crowdfunded project was led by Laura Daly, Heather Wood, Mary Turner, Lynn Gibson and Sam Townsend and drew on groups from the area as they looked at recognising the work of women past and present in the trade unions and their communities, as well as their involvement in politics.

They began work on the banner at the start of this year, bringing together nine patches to make up the banner with the help of quilters.

Heather, a woman’s activist from Easington Colliery who helped run the village’s soup kitchen during miners’ strike of 1984-85, said: “It’s been absolutely incredible, it’s been one of the best things.

“I think it’s been an untold story, women never really seem to be recognised for what they have done and it’s going to be a big deal, walking into Durham.

“As soon as we spoke to Redhills about it, they were behind us.

“It’s going to be a fantastic day and I can’t wait to be there in the cathedral when the banner is blessed, it is going to be emotional.

“We’ve all made friends for life and I’ve realised there are other women the same as us, we’ve just been in our community doing our little bit.

“Now we’re all together, this is just the beginning and we’ve got lots of projects planned for the future.”

The group is first women’s organisation to be officially affiliated to the DMA.

It has welcomed actor Charlie Hardwick, who has appeared in Byker Grove and Emmerdale, as well as the recent theatre production of The Last Ship, as its patron.

She will march with the banner as it makes its way from the Market Place to the Racecourse, where the banners will be displayed during the speeches.

For more information on the group, visit its page www.facebook.com/womensbannergroup can be followed on Twitter at @BannerWomen and emailed via womensbannergroup@gmail.com.