The main even of our third annual Working Class History Month went very well, especially considering that our main speaker dropped out due to unforseen circumstances at the 11th hour and that, despite having carried out interviews and taken photos, the promised pre-event publicity from the Oxford Mail didn't materialise until after the event!
The atmosphere on the day was great and it was a pleasure to welcome old friends and new from the local area and further afield.
Blackbird Leys IWCA activist and IWCA Athletics Club coach, Stuart Craft, opened the show with a short introduction outlining the significance of the Miners' Strike today before handing over to Dave Chapple from the Bridgwater branch of the Communication Workers Union in Somerset, who kindly filled in at the last minute to replace Mel Hepworth of the NUM.
Dave has a proud history as a militant trade unionist who has fought for years to improve the lives of his fellow workers. Today he shared with us his experience of the Bristol Miners Support Group during the 1984 - 85 strike. Dave's talk was both informative and entertaning and went down well with the audience.
Dave's speech was followed by the screenng of a film covering the policing of the miners strike from ''The Miners' Campaign Tapes' a series of documentaries made by miners during the strike to help publicise their cause. The film received a rousing round of applause fom old and young. Incidentally, one of the young miners interviewed throughout the Miners' Campaign Tapes is Dave Douglass, Hatfield Main NUM Branch Delegate, who generously played host to a group of Oxford activists, including founder members of Blackbird Leys IWCA, over the Doncaster Miners' Gala weekend in May 1994 - a weekend we remember with great fondness.
Following the film, local singer, songwriter, Moogieman performed a self-penned number; 'Skylab' about the first, and only, strike in outerspace! A great tune from a talented local artist and long time friend and supporter of the IWCA.
Next up came our own Dona Velluti who told us about her recent research into the linguistic tricks used by Margaret Thatcher to undermine the cause of mining communities. Dona's ideas struck a chord with many of those in the crowd and opened the eyes of others, leaving some to draw comparisons with the verbal gymnastics of the Thatcher government and the equally cynical doublespeak of today's politicians.
On the strength of her talk, and as an example of the relationships being fostered through Working Class History Month, Dona has been invited by the Easton Cowboys, some of whom travelled across from the West Country for today's event, to make a contribution to their Bristol Radical History Project.
£106 was raised in the raffle towards the youth work of the IWCA Athletics Club, so well done to our youngsters, Peter, Isobel and Daniella who staffed the stall.
Well done also to Shan for his technical help, Graca, Emmy and Diana for running the kitchen, David T for driving duties, Tracy for lending us her kitchen and locking up for us, Franky and Benny's and The Vue Cinema for raffle prizes and Billy and Martin for generally helping out. Thanks also to Pegasus School for the use of the hall and to all those who attended and contributed to make the day a great success.