A singer and songwriter of more than 50 years and leaders of three trade unions will provide entertainment and speeches at this year’s Burston Strike School Rally which took place almost 100 years ago.
Celebrating the longest strike in history, the annual rally will be held on the Church Green in Burston next Sunday, September 1.
The children marched out of school when their teachers, Tom and Kitty Higdon, were sacked because of their links to the farm workers’ union.
Tom’s election as a Labour parish councillor inflamed the couple’s conflict with the Church of England, which was then responsible for educating children in the countryside, and on April 1, 1914, after the couple had been dismissed, the children declared their strike and walked out of their CoE county school classroom.
Their education continued firstly in the blacksmith’s workshop and later in the Burston Strike School built on the village green from Labour movement subscriptions.
The school continued right up to 1939 but after Tom Higdon died his widow was unable to carry on and the last pupils transferred to the county school, 25 years after the strike began.
The Strike School building survived, however, and is now a museum, visitor centre and village amenity, and since 1984 a rally has been held every year to commemorate the original Burston rally.
The speakers at the rally in the morning will be Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil service union, and Lesley Mercer, president of TUC, the national trade union centre in the UK.
They will be supported by Steve Turner, policy director of Unite and Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England in the afternoon.
The rally will be chaired by TUC regional secretary Megan Dobney and Unite’s community organiser Pilgrim Tucker.
Entertainment will come from Leon Rosselson, acclaimed singer and songwriter with more than 50 years of performing under his belt and the author of 17 children’s books along with the RMT Brass Band and Red Flags.
Last year’s rally attracted more than 1,000 people, with 700 taking part in the march and about 20 trades unions represented.
This year’s event will run from 10.55am to 3.45pm and there will also be food, a beer tent, campaign and community stalls.