'The Quakers welcomed us and I will never forget it.'
A former member of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Movement has paid tribute to Newbury Meeting and the support it gave to the community.
With 2021 marking the fortieth anniversary of the camp, Lynette Edwell told the Friend: ‘Newbury Quakers opened their premises for use by women from Greenham Common so it is of great significance to a lot of people. The Quakers welcomed us and I will never forget it. They were very supportive. We all feel a big debt of gratitude to them. One or two Quakers walked out and worshipped elsewhere but the Meeting assisted us from 1981 to 1990, which is a long time to support a movement. Their generosity and kindness to Greenham is not known enough. Lots of well-known people came to speak there, including Bruce Kent. There should be a plaque.’
Lynette Edwell said that the Meeting provided vital support in many ways. These included assisting Greenham women to pay fines, and funding an appointed peace and conciliation worker. ‘Unfortunately, she was knocked down and killed after coming back from Greenham, so we were really upset to lose her,’ she said. ‘If we did things with Quaker backing we were taken more seriously by the police and the officials, because in their eyes we were “just” women. The council said it was illegal for us to be there and kept taking all our stuff, so women would go out for the day and come back to find their tents and belongings gone. One Quaker from near the Lake District designed a “get-away”, a little tent you can collapse in a minute and place on your arm. Each had something printed on it to mark it as someone’s property, so you could retrieve your “get-away” from the council or threaten to sue them. My “get-away” has been in West Berkshire Museum for over ten years and my archives on Greenham Common are at the Berkshire Records Office.’
Several organisations are preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the peace camp, which culminates in September to mark the date it opened. The group ‘Scary Little Girls’ launched a year of ‘celebrations, commemorations, and acknowledgement’ of the movement in November. This started with the website Greenham Women Digital, an online, interactive exhibition launched on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. There is also a feature-length documentary in the works, Mothers Of The Revolution, directed by Briar March.
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