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'Biggest issue of our generation' - teen addresses strike school rally on importance of climate change

PUBLISHED: 18:59 01 September 2019 | UPDATED: 18:59 01 September 2019

Florence Lonergan, 16, from City of Norwich School, a guest speaker at the Burston School Strike Rally to discuss climate change. Photo: Emily Thomson

Florence Lonergan, 16, from City of Norwich School, a guest speaker at the Burston School Strike Rally to discuss climate change. Photo: Emily Thomson

Emily Thomson

Hundreds of protestors and union members took to the streets of a Norfolk village to commemorate the longest strike in history.

Eva Garayalde, 12 (left), Dominic Douse, 14 (middle), Mae-li-son, 10 (right), protesting on climate change at the Burston School Strike Rally. Photo: Emily ThomsonEva Garayalde, 12 (left), Dominic Douse, 14 (middle), Mae-li-son, 10 (right), protesting on climate change at the Burston School Strike Rally. Photo: Emily Thomson

Union members and protestors from across the country gathered on Burston's village green at a time of political uncertainty, rallying support and momentum in the run-up to October 31, when Britain is due to leave the European Union.

Amid political tensions and protests taking place all over the country in response to prime minister Boris Johnson proroguing parliament, the rally put some emphasis on the younger generation which is taking to the political stage, just as the 66 children who joined the Burston Strike School all those years ago in 1914.

Florence Longergan, a 16-year-old pupil at City of Norwich School, spoke at the rally about climate change and its affect on future generations. She said: "We are hoping to get the unions more involved with our school strike on September 20 and we are partnering with Extinction Rebellion to make it our biggest strike yet.

"In March we had 1.4 million people globally strike from school on this issue of climate change.

Burston School Strike placards ready for the rally. Photo: Emily ThomsonBurston School Strike placards ready for the rally. Photo: Emily Thomson

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"It's massive. It is the biggest issue of our generation. It affects me, everyone I know, it affects everyone I will ever know. I want everyone to have a safe future."

Burston Strike School Rally celebrates teachers Tom and Annie Higdon who were sacked after complaining about conditions in the school.

A total of 66 children went on strike and a new 'strike school' was built on the village green with the old school boycotted for the next 25 years.

Jo Rust, Secretary of Kings Lynn and District Trades Council at the Burston School Strike Rally. Photo: Emily ThomsonJo Rust, Secretary of Kings Lynn and District Trades Council at the Burston School Strike Rally. Photo: Emily Thomson

Jo Rust, secretary of King's Lynn and District Trades Council, said: "This is a celebration and coming together of like-minded people and it's refreshing.

"There is a lot of division right now and it has polarised our communities so when you come to Burston you get a feeling of solidarity, and unity and it replenishes you going forward to carry on the fight.

"If we go back and think again about why this happened, all of those children taking action, that's what we are seeing now. We have got children coming out of schools to say they want to see a difference on climate change it shows the power of our youth and the difference that they can make."

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