After a couple of false starts due to the pandemic, we were finally able to celebrate our success on Sunday 26 September, at an event in Ewloe, North Wales with the pickets and their families who, together with the campaign, had seen it through to the end.
We began the afternoon with a showing of the 1974 film, Free the Six, by Jeff Perks and Michael Rosen to remind us all of the dreadful conditions that prevailed on building sites in the 1970’s. The film also included contemporaneous interviews with the pickets’ families. Later we watched a warm message from Elsa Warren, who explained what Des Warren went through when he was given the longest prison sentence of three years. The video of Ian Prowse singing Alun Parry’s song, My name is Dessie Warren, was inspiring and got many of us singing along with it.
The most emotional part of the afternoon was when the pickets spoke about what they went through in 1973-74. Particularly moving was hearing, for the first time, family members speaking about what it was like for them. Heart-breaking stories such as being told by kids in the school playground that their dad was in jail. Feeling a sense of shame about their dad throughout their lives. But worst of all, not knowing what really happened, as none of the pickets would ever talk about it. This celebration helped to open the door to the truth: that their dads/grandads/husbands/brothers/uncles were not guilty of the charges that were so wrongly brought against them. They were trade unionists standing up for their rights and those of fellow building workers against ruthless employers.
There were many tears but also much laughter, as pickets’ families met each other for the first time. Many of them had known each other within North Wales over the years but were unaware of what connected them–they were all related to a Shrewsbury picket!
The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign left the celebratory event with a sense of pride and satisfaction in the knowledge that we had stood with the pickets and never gave up the fight for justice. We had helped to bring so much happiness to so many people. The pickets had achieved the justice they deserved. We never gave up – and we won!
Celebration in Shrewsbury
Shropshire and Telford Trades Council put on a marvellous celebratory event for the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign and pickets on Saturday 2 October in Shrewsbury. The Trades Council officers Gemma Offland, Ash Silverstone and Brett Davies, together with former secretary Mike Edwards, led local trade unionists with their banners in greeting us at Shrewsbury train station. We marched the short distance to the venue, St Nicholas Community Centre, displaying our specially made banner declaring, “Shrewsbury 24 Campaign – WE WON”.
Brett introduced the afternoon’s festivities by describing the support that the Trades Council has given to the Campaign and the pickets over the years. Brett, Mike and others had been with us in Birmingham when we submitted the pickets’ application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s office on the 3 April 2012 in Birmingham. They have stayed with us through thick and thin ever since.
Brett congratulated us all on our tenacity, resilience and staunch trade union principles. He described the joy that all the delegates felt when they heard that we had won the case at the Court of Appeal. He applauded that, “The pickets and the campaign never gave up and have succeeded, not just for the pickets but the whole trade union and labour movement.”
Jeremy Corbyn praised the pickets and the Campaign and congratulated Eileen Turnbull on her tremendous work as the Campaign’s researcher. He highlighted her determination and stamina in travelling the country to obtain evidence that was used by Bindmans solicitors and Danny Friedman QC to secure a tremendous victory for the pickets in the Court of Appeal.
During the afternoon there were also speeches from Terry Renshaw, POA General Secretary Steve Gillan and Rob Williams of the National Shop Stewards Network. Singer-songwriter Ian Prowse surprised us all by making an unannounced appearance and raised the roof with a spirited rendition of Alun Parry’s song My Name is Dessie Warren.
The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign and pickets wish to thank Shropshire and Telford Trades Council for arranging such a brilliant and memorable day. Your support will never be forgotten.
Read an article about the celebration on the Shropshire Star website.
Elsa Warren celebrates Campaign’s victory at Court of Appeal
Elsa Warren, Des Warren’s former wife, gives here reaction to the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign’s Court of Appeal victory in March 2021.