Sun, 21 Apr 2019
THE Easter holidays and demands of springtime revision did little to deter a third pupil-led protest against global inaction over climate change in Newbury last week.
Nearly 100 young people gathered outside Newbury Town Hall on Friday, before marching around the town centre and congregating outside West Berkshire Council’s offices in Market Street.
The young people waved homemade cardboard placards in the air, such as ‘Respect existence or expect resistance’ and ‘Denial is not a policy’.
“The turnout today really proves that we care about this issue,” said Isaac Fernandes, a Year 13 pupil at St Bartholomew’s School, who recorded a head-count of 95 at the protest.
He added: “Not only am I extremely proud of the students who took time out of their holidays to come out and support this movement, but also the young students who worked up the courage to speak.”
After marching down Northbrook Street and through the Parkway Shopping complex, the cohort gathered in the echo circle outside the council offices, where several speakers addressed the crowd.
They included Year 12 St Bartholomew’s pupil Lois Ryan, who hailed the gathering as “pretty inspirational” and said highlighted how climate change remains an existential issue which the Government is failing to act upon.
Unlike the previous protests – which saw pupils put down their pens and stage a walkout on a Friday in mid-February and March – Friday’s demonstration allowed a younger contingent to take part – with many primary school pupils using their holidays to attend the event for the first time.
Among them was Aidan Flanagan, a Year 6 pupil from Hungerford Primary School, who was present with his parents Simon and Lisa and held aloft a homemade banner with the words ‘This can’t wait ‘til I’m bigger’ painted in green.
Aidan, who missed the first two strikes because of school, said: “I came along today because this is about our future.
“I don’t want my kids to be asking, ‘What were trees, dad?’.”
Louis de Chazal, a Year 5 pupil at Brightwalton Primary School, delivered his own impassioned speech in the echo circle, called ‘Once upon a time there was a planet’ – documenting a retrospective account of man’s destruction of the Earth and the urgent need to address climate concerns.
Sixth formers Emma Hyne and Paddy Green took the train from Marlborough – where they attend St John’s secondary school – because Newbury was the nearest protest for them to take part in.
Miss Hyne said: “There’s so many people doing it.
“It’s such an important issue at the moment – so we just thought, why not join in?
“There’s a lot of inspiring people who have come to talk about this.
“It makes us want to be involved. We want to stand behind them too.”