Women In The Strike

"You've Got To Understand You're At War"

WOMEN PLAYED a vital role in the strike.

SUE ALBERRY from Clowne, a North Derbyshire village with half a dozen local pits explains how the local Women's Action Group supported the strike.

OUR GROUP of miners' wives and other local women gave out 300-400 food parcels every week until the end of the strike. The Parish Council let us use an empty shop and we visited local picket lines early in the morning with a soup run.

When we needed to feed pickets, there was no electricity or hot water in our strike centre, but we were given camping stoves, gas lamps tables and forms and we were soon cooking 200-500 breakfasts a day. We started a two shift-system - one week picketing, one week in the centre.

A local shopkeeper gave us buckets of hot water from his shop, another gave us bread rolls. The butcher wouldn't give us anything and his shop was boycotted for years afterwards.

The centre helped keep up morale. A young miner who'd come back from Orgreave, wearing just one trainer and shaking with fear, said: "They'll bloody kill us. It's insane. Why are they doing it?" I told him: "You've got to understand you're at war now."

We were followed by police and had our phones tapped. Once, two plainclothes police came into the centre eating fish and chips, pretending to be pickets. But no pickets could afford fish and they were wearing brand new Hunter Wellington boots! I politely confronted them, got 3 for their cups of tea then told them to get out.

In the school summer holiday we supplied hot meals for the kids. We found clothes, prams and cots for babies born during the strike. At Christmas we organised a party at a local pub with a striking miner as Santa - all the kids got a small present.

The hardest part was when they went back to work. We marched back with them, heads held high because we did what was right. I felt proud to have been part of this strike.

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