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Village rally cancelled due to pandemic

Organisers have taken the agonising decision to cancel this year’s Burston Strike School Rally, which celebrates the longest strike in British history.

After weeks of deliberations, the committee behind the event – due to take place on September 6 – said the decision to shelve the rally was not one they had taken lightly.

Miles Hubbard,regional officer for Unite, the workers’ union, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to cancel this year’s rally for the first time in its 36-year history.

People taking part in the Burston Strike School Rally in 2019.Picture: Mark Bullimore.
People taking part in the Burston Strike School Rally in 2019.Picture: Mark Bullimore.

“Under the circumstances, due to Covid-19, it would be unwise to go ahead. However, we are confident that the rally will return, just as vibrant and its messages of solidarity just as strong, in 2021.”

The rally takes place to celebrate when schoolchildren from the village went on strike in 1914 in support of their teachers, Tom and Annie ‘Kitty’ Higdon, who were sacked by the area’s school management committee, led at the time by the Rev Charles Eland.

The pair had complained about poor conditions in the school, particularly dampness, inadequate heating, lighting and general unhygienic conditions, as well as highlighting the fact that children were being pulled out of school to work on local farms.

After their sackings, the Higdons set up an alternative school in the village, later moving into a new strike school building built by the Labour movement.

It remained the village school until 1939, and is now a museum dedicated to telling the story of the strike.

The rally normally attracts thousands of people and one of its regular guest speakers is former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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