On 30th June, nearly 70 people gathered in the grounds of Richmond Castle for a Meeting for Worship. Sixteen of these were members of a group walking over the following 5 days to Menwith Hill, also in Yorkshire, marking the centenary of Northern Friends Peace Board. Others at Richmond that day came from Quaker Meetings over a wide area of the North. Some had a chance to visit the exhibition that English Heritage have created that records the story of the Richmond 16 , conscientious objectors (COs) imprisoned at the Castle during the first world war.
Marjorie Gaudie, whose father in law Norman Gaudie, was one of the COs, was present with other family members and for who the story is of particular personal significance. Local journalist Sarah Hartley recorded the event in words and images: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUM5OyK0dQM
Walking from Richmond, the walkers were joined on all of their days of walking, by supporters, Quakers and non-Quakers. On our first day, walking through the training area for Catterick Barracks to the south of Richmond, we enjoyed the company of members of the Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace from Iona to London. We were pleased to give them a letter of greeting and support the previous day when we all found ourselves travelling through York.
Each day of the walk concluded with a period of worship, discussion and social activities for the walkers, accommodated throughout at Bivouac , located about half way along the route. Friends shared their stories and experiences, reflecting on the nature of peace action and its spiritual roots, and rejoiced in the beauty of the countryside through which we walked. Music and song sometimes brought our evenings to a close.
We were encouraged and humbled to be joined by people from some distance away, our ‘community on the road’ benefiting from the conversations and company of others. Our last day was boosted by a significant number of extras and culminated with our joining the peace protest at Menwith Hill, organised by CAAB and marking Independence from America on 4th July. Our arrival and visible presence amongst others at the gates of the US electronic communications and surveillance base was a powerful statement of Quaker concern.