THE first all women banner group will be taking part in this year’s Big Meeting.

Hundreds of women from across County Durham have been getting involved in the project, which was set up to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage.

They are the first all-women banner group to be accepted by the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) and will be parading their new silk standard at this year’s gala, where it will be blessed during the service at Durham Cathedral.

As well as the silk banner, which will feature inspirational women chosen by members of the group, they have created a patchwork one, with each panel made by a different group.

Project founder Laura Daly, from Wingate, in County Durham, said: “I think the whole idea really taps into community spirit and engaging with women and celebrating what women do.

“Everyone has been so supportive it’s been amazing. The DMA were so supportive and encouraging.”

Members of the group have submitted nominations for which women will be included on the banner.

All of the nominations will be compiled to create a book.

Group secretary Lynn Gibson said: “The response we have had is overwhelming, the submissions we have received of inspirational women range from mams and nannas to sports personalities, musicians, activists, politicians and healthcare workers.

“I’ve been through quite a few tissues reading all the submissions.”

The creation of the patchwork banner is being overseen by Mary Turner, from Shadforth, near Durham.

She said: “What’s so good is having so many women from across the county, all with diverse interests but keen to work together and produce something special for the gala.”

Heather Wood, from Easington, who ran the free cafe during the miners’ strike, said: “This is about shouting what women can do.

“Women in the mining community have always dutifully come out and fought the fight when it was necessary. What we’re fighting for now is the recognition for what women have done and what they can do in the future.”

She added: “I’m proud to be working class, I’m proud to be a miner’s daughter and I’m proud to be a woman.

“One of the really good things about this is that this male dominated place has opened its doors to the community and to women.”

The banner, which is being made by Durham Banner Makers, will be revealed at an event at DMA headquarters at Redhills, on July 11.

As well as the two new banners, the group is hoping to display as many of the old women’s banners, which have been stashed away over the years, as they can find.

“I think we have 22 at the minute,” added Ms Daly. “But they keep appearing. Most of them have been under beds and on top of wardrobes for years.”

The group is still raising money for the project. Visit