Unite members are invited to a memorial lecture commemorating the life and work of legendary trade unionist and Labour politician Sir George Edwards, who established the National Union of Agricultural and Rural Workers in 1906.
The lecture, at the Gressenhall Museum of Rural Life in Norfolk on June 29, will feature a presentation from the museum’s head of research, Stephen Pope, entitled “George Edwards: Workhouse Inmate to Workhouse Guardian”.
Former Unite agricultural regional officer Peter Medhurst will also be talking about the issues facing present day farm workers and small farmers.
Born in 1850, Edwards was the youngest child of a Norfolk farm worker who faced severe poverty as a child and began working when he was just five years old.
Despite never having been to school, Edwards became a Methodist preacher and was taught to read and write by his wife Charlotte in his 20s.
In his later years, Edwards achieved national acclaim as a union leader and social reformer and was twice elected to Parliament as Labour MP for South Norfolk before receiving an O.B.E for his services to working people.
Unite member and organiser of the memorial lecture, Rev Graham Hedger, said, “George Edwards was a giant of the trade union movement and his message of solidarity and care for your neighbour is as important today as it is as ever was. Life in the UK’s countryside has become increasingly difficult for many people due to cuts to local services and the proliferation of low-paid, insecure and short term work in the rural industries.
“As well as a historical lecture looking back on Sir Edwards life and taking note of the terrible conditions farm workers faced in the 19th Century, the audience will also learn about, and have the chance to discuss, the challenges facing small farmers and rural workers in the present day. All are welcome and we look forward to seeing as many people as possible at the event.”
The lecture will take place on Saturday 29 June from 2pm to 4pm at the Old Workhouse Chapel at the Gressenhall Museum of Rural Life, Dereham, NR20 4DR.
Tickets cost £2.50 and can be purchased on the day.