Martyrs Festival returns to show its worker solidarity

Martyrs Festival returns to show its worker solidarity

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The spirit of union activism will return to Dorset this weekend as the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival makes its triumphant comeback.
Running from Friday, July 15 to Sunday, July 17, festival organisers promise an eclectic mix of live music by local and international artists as well as spirited political discourse.
The festival will build up to the traditional Sunday afternoon march to the grave of James Hammett, the only one of the Tolpuddle Martyrs to return to Dorset.

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The festival begins on Friday with live music by Portland-based musicians El Borez, followed by a performance from West Dorset born folk singer-songwriter Jonah Corren.
Dorset-born, Bristol-based pop folk singer songwriter Danielle Sharp will also take to the stage as will folk punk singer Shannon White from Poole.
Besides live music, on Friday there will be speaking sessions in the Fringe Tent between the chairman of the South West Trades Union Congress, Hannah David, as well as other union leaders and US protest singer songwriter Crys Matthews. There will also be a DJ tent.

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On Friday evening, there will be live music from political musicians Dorset Red, Sao Paulo-based street band Theo Mizu and Banda, US singer songwriter Crys Matthews, plus Jez Hellard and The Djukella Orchestra and Cable Street Collective.
Saturday will begin with guided trail walks through Tolpuddle, followed by a bus ride to Dorchester and a walk back to Tolpuddle as part of the Prison Officers’ Association hike.
In the Martyrs’ marquee, there will be talks on winning solidarity at work, challenges for women leaders and discussions on how to cut carbon, not public transport.
In the Rear Garden Organise Tent, there will be talks on remote working, protest and the state, education for action and ‘organising precarious creative workers’.

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In the Tolpuddle fringe tent, there will be a series of discussions on the battle for employment rights, the cost of living crisis, the future of union education and learning, breaking down race barriers and how Ukraine is fighting on the military and trade union front.
You can also try your hand at sign language at a taster session and join in a ‘misconceptions quiz’.
The Unite marquee will host a menu of discussions on migrant workers’ stories, climate change and food production among other topics.
The Unite marquee will also host live musical performances by the Birmingham Clarion Singers with their rendition of Rob Harper’s Asbestos Song as well as Dorset’s own Skimmity Hitchers.
Radical Cinema will also be screening films throughout Saturday.
On Saturday evening there will be music in the Martyrs’ marquee from former RPMs frontman Jack Valero, as well as anti-establishment four-piece Cosmic Ninja, American singer songwriter David Rovics, and Rhoda Dakar, lead singer of The Bodysnatchers.

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On Sunday, authors will speak about their new books and host signing sessions in the Fringe Tent in the morning.
At around 1.10pm on Sunday, ministers will lay wreaths at the grave of James Hammett.
Performing on the main stage throughout the day will be singer songwriter Rob Johnson, West Country based group The Leylines, US artist Carsie Blanton, and Ngaio and the Ngostics. There will also be speeches from the South West TUC president Sue Ferns among others.

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At around 2pm, festival attendees are invited to join the grand procession through the village and back, accompanied by marching bands.
There will be more speeches in the afternoon from senior TUC members followed by music from Peat and Diesel as well as festival alumnus Billy Bragg.
Radical Cinema will screen submissions from its short film competition all day and there will be an end of festival service at the village’s Methodist chapel at 5pm.
The NASUWT Kids Area, hosted by The Teachers’ Union, will be available for children on all three days.

Photographs taken by Steve Pallant


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