It was 22 years ago almost to the day that a 22 year old Welsh woman was killed by a police car at Greenham Common.
I heard about it by chance last night and it brought back vivid memories of the principled peace movement centred around the air base and which was focused on opposition to the cruise missiles which were held there. For almost twenty years as many as 70,000 women were involved in a protest conducted with commitment and integrity, and based on non-violence. It was successful too, in that they achieved their aim of having the nuclear weapons removed back to the States, and a by-product of their actions was that they achieved global recognition and much admiration for the non-confrontational but effective way they chose to operate.
I met, not so long ago, a woman who had been among their number, and her story of her experiences was heroic. The physical conditions of the camp were terrible and there was great hardship, but the bond between the women, who came together from all classes and backgrounds, was tremendous. She said that while she was there only for a few months it was life-changing, and she returned home humbled, wiser and kinder. It was feminine community in action.
Helen Thomas was the Welsh woman who died, the only protestor to do so, and no-one was ever found to be responsible for her death. I did not know, until I heard that she has now been remembered in her home town, that the Greenham Common movement was started by a brave Welsh group called Women for Life on Earth. It is a wonderful name, isn’t it? And it says it all.