Friday 8 June 2018  Issue No 2289



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Ullapool's PROCESSIONS banner heads to Edinburgh

Women from Ullapool will travel to Edinburgh this weekend to take part in a huge public artwork celebrating 100 years of votes for women and reveal a banner they have made reflecting the story of female life in the highlands.  

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Among those travelling to the once-in-a-lifetime event is local farmer Lucy Beattie and her daughter Brenna who is represented on the banner as a girl wearing a rugby shirt. The girl's shirt is made from the actual rugby shirt donated by SNP Minister Maree Todd who played in last season's Parliamentary Six Nations.

The banner has been created by a group of women from different backgrounds in the local area at An Talla Solais in Ullapool during workshops led by artist and storyteller Lizzie McDougall. Its one of 100 banners which have been created across the UK as part of 'Processions'. 

This Sunday, women and girls in Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London will walk through the cities displaying the banners and wearing green, white and violet - the colours of the suffrage movement. Organisers say they will form 'a flowing river of colour' and a living portrait of women in the 21st Century. 

The Ullapool banner features many elements of life chosen by local women to represent their history and future in the Highlands including fishing, farming, music and the local mountains. Brenna, 8, suggested early on that a girl was included wearing a sports top and the idea coincided literally with Maree's kind and symbolic donation of her rugby shirt. 

Maree, who grew up in Ullapool and is now Minister for Childcare and Early Years, said: “I play in the parliamentary team, the first woman to do so and still the only female MSP involved. Parliamentary rugby was started by Nelson Mandela, who saw the opportunity to bring very different people together through sport. We play in an international six nations against other parliaments and I am proud to have ensured that women have the opportunity to be involved too. I’m delighted that wee bit of history has been stitched into our banner."

Maree, Lucy and Brenna will join Lizzie McDougall and some of the workshop team at the event this Sunday which will reveal nearly 20 banners which have been made by groups and organisations across Scotland. The historic event is a positive celebration of equality and the women and men who campaigned for universal suffrage. 

“When I consider the different opportunities I have had compared to those women who came before me, the progress we have made is incredible. My granny from Lewis followed the herring. It was a tough life but her only other career option was to go into service so she was proud to be a herring girl. In contrast, I went to university and serve in Government," said Maree. 

She added: "I’m going to be there, along with my mum and my two daughters and thousands of sisters from around Scotland. I can’t wait to gather to celebrate how much we have achieved, as well as recognise how far there is still to go." 

Victoria Caine, who has headed the project for An Talla Solais, said: "Naturally, we are incredibly proud to have been chosen to represent our area of the Highlands for this historic artwork event. Community is everything here and one of the best elements of the workshops was bringing together women who might not have had a connection until now and watching them form a group. Being with them was an absolute joy and I loved their company and stories."  

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