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The Headscarf Revolutionaries: pioneers of change

Creating change in the work place is nothing new, it's called disruption. I've written on this topic previously: My Mum The 1960's Workplace Disruptor. Well it seems I'm surrounded by strong women, (which of course I think it amazing) one of my Mum's best friends Virginia is the daughter of Lillian Bilocca, one of the many pioneer's of workplace disruption.

Lillian, from Hessle Road in Hull, Yorkshire, also known as Big Lil, led a campaign after three ships sank in 1968 with the loss of 58 lives. She, along with Christine Jensen (nee Gay), Mary Denness and Yvonne Blenkinsop, forced new safety measures after lobbying the government.

"In the harsh arctic seas of 1968, three trawlers from Hull’s fleet sank in just three weeks. 58 men died. Lillian Bilocca put down her filleting knife, wrote a petition, and stormed into action. With her army of fishwives she took her battle to the docks and led a raid on Parliament. They changed the shipping laws." Source

Headscarf Revolutionaries

The four women, gathered 10,000 signatures for a petition calling for reform after the triple trawler tragedy. Lillian led a delegation to Parliament. And they did all of this without the aid of social media, this was true people power. The Headscarf Revolutionaries is a phrase termed by Dr Brian W Lavery, author of "The Headscarf Revolutionaries" The story of Lillian Bilocca and the Hull Triple-Trawler Disaster

Goin' on rerd

I remember when my Mum (Born and bred in Hull) met Virginia, I was about 9 or 10 years old, and while Mum was clothes shopping in our local retail store in a small coastal town called Otaki, New Zealand, one of the staff members said, "that women over their sounds like you". Living in small town New Zealand it's not very often you hear another Hull accent.

So mum went and introduced herself. Virginia came to our place for dinner a few nights later and my Grandma (also from Hull) joined us.

They all talked about the good old days of Hull and reminisced, then Virginia said "You'll know my Mum" to which my Grandma replied "I didn't know anyone from Hessle Road". Boy did my Grandma (and Mum) get a shock when they learned Virginia's mum was none other than Big Lil.

A Girl From Hull

What the Headscarf Revolutionaries did was not only inspirational but life changing, to fight against the establishment and win is truly empowering. Virginia embodies her mother's fighting spirit and as always been a strong creative influence in my own life.

This year Hull is celebrating the City of Culture and I'm proud to say, just like Lillian, Virginia and my Mum, I'm a girl from Hull.

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