In this post for International Women’s Day 2022 we are celebrating the strength of the women in our coalfield communities.
We celebrate their strength, whether they were fighting pit closures, acting as trade union reps for their fellow workers, campaigning against the closure of welfares, holiday camps and rehabilitation centres. or performing one of the many roles required of them as mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends or as independent women working for a living; we are proud of them and we celebrate them here.
We are taking as our theme the words “We are women, we are strong” from the song sung by the women fighting against pit closures in 1984 / 1985. These are the words of the song:
We are women, we are strong,
We are fighting for our lives
Side by side with our men
Who work the nation’s mines,
United by the past,
And it’s – Here we go! Here we go!
For the women of the working class.
We are starting this post with a tribute to one of the many women who campaigned against pit closures. This post is by Lorraine Dowen and she is remembering her mother Hilary Dowen.
“My mum, Hilary Dowen was always a staunch supporter of the NUM locally and of my dads involvement over many years.
As a local teacher she was not allowed a political profile in Notts and so had to walk a fine line in the community and the staffroom, where of course she was the NUT rep. Sometimes her other life intruded, like in the 1972 strike when dad was arrested and he phoned the school to let her know.
Mum worked tirelessly with dad and John and Elsie Lowe during the 84 Strike. She travelled all over England with Dad, speaking with great passion on behalf of the mining families who were suffering. Lifelong friends were made.
Life at home during the strike was pretty crazy, but I don’t think mum missed a day in the classroom.
Our phone was tapped and every time she tried to give a telephone interview to a radio station the line was jammed. Mum stayed loyal to the last.
Just two or three months before she died, John Lowes Diary was published. Crippled with multiple sclerosis, she read every page; each page needed to be turned for her. It took a few weeks of daily persistence
and when she was done she was triumphant. She went on to get support to phone Elsie and have one last long pit talk.
My mum made her own luck in life, moving from working in the wages office at Clipstone pit to working as an unqualified infants teacher at J T Rice Infants School. After this she studied for her teaching certificate, a Bachelor of Education and a post graduate qualification as a Community Teacher. Her passion was always children, and what she could do to improve their chances in life. She is deeply loved and missed.”
We are continuing our International Women’s Day Celebration with a series of photographs of women from our mining communities. We are sharing these posts with thanks to and the permission of Mansfield Chad and JPI Media. Unfortunately, we do not know the names of any of these women, so we are hoping you can help us. If you are one of these women, or know someone in these photographs, please let us know.