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EPISODE ELEVEN: MY LIFE IN COMPARTMENTS

Sylvia has, by her own admission, received countless convictions as a result of campaigning for a peaceful world.  In this episode we discover how her family has been effected by the choices she has made.

EPISODE TEN: A LIFE ENHANCING EXPERIENCE

Helen stepped into the peace movement in 1981 when she and four other women chained themselves to the fence at RAF Greenham Common, in protest over the decision to store cruise nuclear missiles on the site.  The ‘Women for Life on Earth’ group initially wanted a televised debate: upon this request being denied, the group began a women’s only peace camp that was to, in various forms, last the best part of nineteen years and at it’s height attract 35,000 women to the base.  Between 1992 – 1993 the nuclear missiles, along with American military personal, returned to the US and a new focus of the women’s peace camp – to give the common land back to the people of Berkshire – began.

For Helen, the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, was life changing.  Leaving her five children and husband behind, she began her new life as a passionate feminist and anti-nuclear campaigner.  In this episode she talks about her decision to become a woman of Greenham and during this conversation I found myself wondering, whether behind every strong, determined and principled individual, lays a few regrets?

FURTHER INFORMATION

To find out more about the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp visit Your Greenham, where you will find a collection of short films, letters to the women and Greenham songs to give you a flavour of what life was like.

See archive footage of Helen at Greenham Common in the short film ‘March to Greenham’.

Hear Helen talk about her experiences of Greenham Common on Radio 4.

CREDITS

This episode could not have been put together without the support of the following people who very kindly donated photographs:

Pete Addis

Paula Allen

Helen John

Jenny Matthews

Liz Somerville at Photofusion

John Sturrock

Mary Timimi

Thanks also to:

John Green

The Morning Star

&

Leon Rosselson who donated ‘The power of Song’.

EPISODE NINE: WHERE THE QUEEN IS THE LANDLADY

Helen and Sylvia have encountered prison countless times as a consequence for campaigning for a peaceful world.  The direct actions the women take part in, from lying down in front of nuclear truck convoys to cutting fences of military bases, can easily invite police charges.  As a result, whether it’s for Obstruction of the Highway, Breach of the Peace, Criminal Damage, Malicious Mischief, Aggravated Trespass or Breaching the Aviation Security Act, the pair are no strangers to spells in prison.   As Sylvia prepares for a potential prison stay, we hear of their experiences of life behind bars.  Thought there was a stigma to being an ex-convict?  Not with these two!

FURTHER INFORMATION

Sylvia thought she would be imprisoned for non-payment of fines after being found guilty of Obstruction of the Highway for lying down in front of a nuclear truck convoy; instead she was issued with a distraint warrant.  To find out more about this act of protest watch “Sylvia’s been arrested again”. 

EPISODE EIGHT: COLLATERAL DAMAGE

Helen and Sylvia, along with friends Joan and Joy, take part in a demonstration in Bradford to show their opposition to the replacement of Trident.  Later that evening plans to spend £20bn building a new fleet of submarines to carry Trident nuclear missiles was approved.  This episode shows the women’s heartfelt views on nuclear weapons and how this belief is shared by a younger generation of peace campaigners.

FURTHER INFORMATION

The UK is just 1 of 9 nuclear weapon countries, to find out more about the issues at stake visit Greenpeace and Yorkshire CND.

Find out more about the vote in the House of Commons to upgrade Trident.

The UK Government is a state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which works towards nuclear disarmament – read the treaty.

CREDITS

“United States” used with permission from Seize The Day.

EPISODE SEVEN: WE DON’T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND IT

After being charged under section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act for trespassing into US Spy Base, Menwith Hill, Helen and Sylvia take their first steps into court.  This episode condenses their first few court appearances and shows the baffling nature of the British legal system, especially when encountered by two elderly grandmothers.  But the question is: wouldn’t you be confused too?

FURTHER INFORMATION

To find out more about the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, Menwith Hill and Helen and Sylvia’s act of protest which led to the charge, watch episode 2 & 3 in the Opening Trilogy

Find out what Liberty had to say about the importance of protest on the news page.

EPISODE 6: SYLVIA’S BEEN ARRESTED AGAIN

Not content with trespassing into a US Spy Base, Sylvia continues to campaign for a peaceful world by lying down in front of a nuclear truck convoy and boarding a US military plane.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Find out more about Sylvia’s action at Prestwick Airport and why a few weeks later her fears appeared to be justified.

Over a year later the charges against Sylvia for boarding a US military plane were dropped, to find out more click here.

CREDITS

Photographs of nuclear truck convoys kindly supplied by Fototruck and Nukewatch

Newspaper article “Yorkshire Woman among campaigners accused of airport security breaches” used with permission from the Yorkshire Post.

EPISODE FIVE: A THREAT TO THE GOVERNMENT, THANK GOD. 

In this episode we hear Helen talk openly about her previous direct actions; including one which resulted with her being issued with a lifetime ban from the City of London… but the question is does she adhere to it?

CREDITS

 Photographs supplied by Helen John

EPISODE FOUR: FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL PROTECTION

Sylvia and I take a walk around the perimeter of Menwith Hill and find ourselves accused of forming an unlicensed procession!  Coinciding with a small organised CND demonstration at the entrance to the base, our walk took the police’s interest as being potential ‘splinter group’ activity.  This episode serves as an example to the everyday erosion of basic civil liberties which peace campaigners, in particular, find themselves regularly challenging.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Watch Episode 3  in the Opening Trilogy to find out more about Menwith Hill.

Or alternatively visit the RAF website, CND or Russia Today. 

For a touch of humour see The Mark Thomas Comedy Product about Menwith Hill.

Opening Trilogy

Three episodes about the grandmothers, their ‘serious organised crime’ and the Spy Base they trespassed into.  A starter pack if you will before the series gets under way.

EPISODE ONE: “NUTS IN A FUNNY WAY”

Helen John and Sylvia Boyes are as similar as they are different.  This episode looks at the women behind the campaign: their family’s reaction and their reasons for protest with a little military drive by thrown in…

FURTHER RESOURCES

For further information about Fylingdales please visit CND or the RAF website.

Find out why Helen and Sylvia were concerned about an attack on Iran

EPISODE TWO: “A TERRORIST BUT NOT A VIOLENT TERRORIST”

On 6th April 2006, former Greenham Common protesters, Helen and Sylvia walked over a yellow line at U.S Spy Base, Menwith Hill.  The yellow line represented the boundary of a designated site under The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, one which, if crossed, was punishable by up to 51 weeks in prison and/or a £5,000 fine.  Helen and Sylvia believe that section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which is part of the Terrorism Act, adds a layer of protection to American war fighting and is a backward step for civil liberties.  Their act of protest made front page of the Independent, sparked a trial for terrorism and caught the eye of a filmmaker who decided to tell their story.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Read the article in The Independent

Read a statement from Liberty highlighting their concerns of Government legislation that works to stifle protest on the news page. 

EPISODE THREE: OUTSIDE THE PERIMETER FENCES

This episode examines the US Spy Base, Menwith Hill, in Yorkshire.  Hearing from David Cameron (when he was speaking as leader of the opposition) CND and Helen and Sylvia, this episode asks the question whether national security is ever worth compromising our civil liberties for.

CREDITS

Footage used from David Cameron’s Web Cameron courtesy of The Conservative Party.

FURTHER RESOURCES

For further information about Menwith Hill visit CND or the RAF website.

To find out about the latest demonstration against the base see Russia Today. 

To see The Mark Thomas Comedy Product about Menwith Hill please click here

Peace Campaigners Helen and Sylvia grew up during the Cold War; they have 10 grandchildren, have been arrested countless times, been imprisoned at Holloway, and were the first people to be charged, under new Anti-terror legislation, for invading a U.S military base to free Britain of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Credits

‘United States’ used with permission from Seize the day

Disarming Grandmothers is a 31 part web series which follows their lives through their trial for terrorism: revealing their relationship with the authorities and the press to their quirky direct actions in the dead of night!  Spanning almost 6 years in production, this series provides a unique insight into the modern day peace movement through the eyes of two extraordinary women.

New episodes will be released weekly in this blog or click here for the latest news about Disarming Grandmothers.

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