Centenary of Burston Strike School commemorated with new folk song

Burston, Norfolk. 100 years since the first Burston Strike School Rally around the village by school children of the Primary School

Burston, Norfolk. 100 years since the first Burston Strike School Rally around the village by school children of the Primary School

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The writer behind a new song inspired by the famous Burston Strike School hopes its debut live performance later this month will help more people engage with the story.

The song, entitled ‘She Lit The Fire’, will be played to a live audience for the first time at the Hadleigh Poetry and Music Day on Saturday, May 20.

It conveys the unique tale of schoolteachers Tom and Annie Higdons, whose dismissal from the village school in Burston in 1914 inspired a protest by pupils and parents, leading to what is now known as the longest strike in British history and the creation of the so-called Strike School.

Musician and songwriter Simon Haines, of Hadleigh Folk and Acoustic Music Nights, who wrote the song, said he felt it was an event in history worth commemorating, as the Higdons’ struggle to ensure all children receive a good education is “a struggle that continues today”.

“I had come across a newspaper article about the Burston Strike School. I looked it up and I then ordered a book about the history and it absolutely fascinated me,” Mr Haines told the Diss Express.

“It was obviously a kind and compassionate woman with her husband trying to improve the lives of the kids.

“I used to be a teacher as well, so that might have had something to do with it.”

The struggle is commemorated every year with the Burston Strike Rally, and the event this autumn will have additional significance, as May 13 will mark exactly a century since the Strike School was officially declared open.

Shaun Jeffery, Secretary to the Burston Strike School Trustees, said: “With the Burston Strike School soon reaching the centenary, the story continues to resonate with people today.

“One of the joys for the trustees of the Strike School, is being presented, often completely unexpectedly, with the work of people inspired by the story of the Higdons.”

To find out more about the song, which was recorded by Suffolk singer Megan Wisdom and keyboardist Cara Bruns, go to www.hadleighfolk.org.uk/?page_id=1205