Burston gets ready for annual strike rally

Organisers behind the annual Burston Strike School Rally are gearing-up for another busy year as frustrations surrounding government cuts are expected to draw hundreds of people to the commemorative event.

The rally, held on the village green in Burston, near Diss, every September marks the longest strike in British history and today is popular with those continuing to fight for trade union rights and democracy in the countryside.

Mike Copperwheat, trustee of the Burston Strike School, said: 'I think the emphasis will be on the cuts – I'm sure there will be some talk on them and looking at how they're affecting young people and their relation to the recent unrest.'

Guest speakers at this year's event, which will take place on Sunday between 11am and 4.30pm, will include Diana Holland, assistant general secretary at Unite, Dave Carr, frontline NHS worker, Kelvin Hopkins, Labour MP for Luton, and student activist Mary Robinson.

Crowds will also be entertained by poet John Hegley, while music will be provided by Red Flags and Robb Johnson and The Irregulars.

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Mr Copperwheat said: 'Hopefully we will have a good turnout. In recent years it has become more popular, especially with local people, and we hope to get more young people interested as well.

'It's surprising how it all comes together. On the Friday it's just a quiet village green and by the Sunday there is often more than 1,000 people. We probably had about 1,500 last year.'

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The rally commemorates the struggles of teachers Tom and Kitty Higdon, who set up a rival school in Burston in 1914 after being dismissed from the Church of England county school because of their union connections. Pupils marched in support of their two teachers and attended the new school until it closed in 1939.

In 1949 the Strike School was registered as an educational charity and has been developed as a museum. This year also marks 100 years since the Higdons arrived in Burston.

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