Eunice Stallard: Purple plaque honour for peace protester

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Eunice StallardImage source, Family photo
Image caption,
Eunice Stallard "embodies the essence" of the purple plaques

For 30 years she campaigned for peace and nuclear disarmament, and now one of the original Greenham Common protesters has been honoured.

When cruise missiles were delivered to the US air base in Berkshire in 1981, tens of thousands protested.

Among the first was Eunice Stallard of Ystradgynlais, Powys, who marched 100 miles to found the women's peace camp outside the base.

A purple plaque was unveiled on Friday in her hometown as a tribute.

Image caption,
The plaque was unveiled in Ystadgynlais on Friday

It was the height of the Cold War and Ms Stallard was a leading figure in the predominantly Welsh group, Women for Life on Earth, who were first to arrive at RAF Greenham Common to oppose the UK government's decision to allow the arrival of US nuclear warheads.

They chained themselves to the railings and, rather than leave at the end of the day, decided to stay.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The last peace campaigners, mostly women, left the base in 2000

It was the start of a 19-year campaign that gained worldwide attention as more campaigners flocked to join them.

In one protest alone, 70,000 demonstrators formed a human chain around the air base.

Image source, Getty Images
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Thousands of protestors regularly descended upon the RAF base in Berkshire

A fiercely political and passionate figure, Ms Stallard was later part of the "Grannies for Peace" group who protested against the Iraq War at RAF Fairford in 2003.

A firm believer in the need for more women in politics, she said at the time: "It's heartbreaking. What we need is more women in government, women wouldn't send their children to war."

She lived her entire life in the Ystradgynlais area. She owned a shop in the village and was also involved in fundraising during the 1984-5 miners' strike. She died in 2011, aged 93.

Her family will reveal a commemorative plaque at The Welfare as part of International Women's Day celebrations.

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Eunice Stallard also played a key fundraising role during the 1984-5 miners' strike

Similar to blue plaques, the purple plaque scheme was set up by a group of female assembly members (AMs) in 2017 to mark the achievements of outstanding women in Wales.

Ms Stallard was nominated by her great-granddaughter Megan Martin.

"[Eunice] was a woman whose resilience and strength knew no bounds and I'm so glad her achievements as a peace campaigner are being recognised in such a way," she said.

"It was important to her to use her identity as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to protest against nuclear weapons, in order to safeguard children and the future. As a family, we are very proud."

Julie Morgan, AM for Cardiff North who helped establish the scheme, said Ms Stallard "embodies the essence" of it as she stood up for what she believed in.

Image source, Family photo
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Eunice Stallard is the fifth woman in Wales honoured with a purple plaque

Wynne Roberts, of the Welfare Ystradgynlais, added: "The plaque will serve to remind people of her hard work and dedication to campaigns for peace and community involvement."

Speaking at the unveiling, Baroness Anita Gale described joining Ms Stallard on the march to Greenham Common in the 1980s.

"When Eunice got to Greenham Common she was arrested by police.' Baroness Gale said.

"When asked her name she told them it was Margaret Roberts, which is of course Margaret Thatcher's maiden name.

"She inspired many many women and she believed that peace could be brought to this world."

Ms Stallard is the fifth person to be awarded a purple plaque, following those dedicated to Chinese community leader Angela Kwok, equalities campaigner Val Feld, Merthyr Tydfil-born feminist historian Ursula Masson and Megan Lloyd George, Wales' first female MP.

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