Wednesday, 9 August 2017

No Fracking Way - The Fellowship of the Frack assembles

Nigel Corser
We needed a group that would walk the whole 120 miles, who we could get accommodation for and feed. After I'd worked out/ been told it probably wasn't too smart an idea to do the whole thing on my own in January, I began to seek out a core group of walkers. An email went out to Yorkshire and Humber Green Party members entitled ' No Fracking Way - Call for Walkers'.  It did seem to get circulated outside the Party and we had 2 people apply who weren't Green Party members. We had Carolyn Popple who worked in a bookies in Scarborough. I'd asked for a head and shoulders picture and some personal information and Carolyn's came back with reflective sunglasses. You can't really understand a person from just a photo but this did make it a bit more difficult. Another non member was Nigel Corser from Lincolnshire, ex Army,  Leave voter but anti fracking. He was from North Lincolnshire. Again the photo he sent was a bit enigmatic and not quite what I was expecting.

Within the Green Party I sounded out a few people to see if they were up for the challenge.

Carolyn Popple
Tom Franklin from York was the Yorkshire and The Humber Green Party's Treasurer. I'd had a few drinks (too many) with Tom following a leafleting session in Scarborough. We'd had an entertaining time and I reckoned the walk may involve some time in the odd Pub or two so pleased when Tom agreed to join the team. He also took on the role of doing the navigation for our route and plotted the route in detail into a GPS. His calculations came back with some significant revisions if we were to get to Preston New Road in the early afternoon on Sunday. The first day was going to be the longest. From Kirby Misperton we were to walk not a leisurely 20 miles to Easingwold but a more punishing 29 miles to Brafferton. Worryingly for me Tom, a keen cyclist, told me about his practice walks which seemed more frequent and further than mine.

Tom Franklin
Colin Noble from Leeds was positive about the walk when I asked him. He had been the Regional Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Green Party when I stood as our Region's Lead Candidate in the 2014 European Elections. We got on well. He had a good sense of off beat humour, he seemed in pretty good nick and went skiing and cycled a lot.

In response to the email from the Green Party we had Louise Galvin from Huddersfield who I knew as one of our leaflet deliverers in the area I represent on Kirklees Council. Louise's Facebook feed was full of pictures of her on various runs and fell races looking terribly energetic. Her bandana proudly declared 'vegan runner'. If I had to get a suitably descriptive bandana it would have to say 'omnivorous slob'.
Louise Galvin

George (Georgina) Perry was from Leeds Green Party and worked in the health sector. For a while I'd got her mixed up with the George (Georgina) from Lancashire who had helped us work out the route. I'm easily confused.

So we had a magnificent 7 walkers plus Ann Forsaith in the support vehicle. I christened us 'The Fellowship of the Frack'. There were 8 of us, just like in 'The Lord of the Rings', we were being guided by a tall guy with a beard (Tom). I of course was the moody, good looking (self deluding) Aragorn.  I would have to be careful about how far I should take the analogy because that would mean we would be equating our final destination in Lancashire with Mordor, the home of the army of Orcs and that
Colin Noble
wasn't compatible with the message of interregional goodwill we
were seeking to seeking to send.

The day of the walk drew near. We were to assemble in Scarborough at a 'kick off' meeting in the towns Central  Library on the Tuesday night. After a leisurely trip I met up with Louise in Scarborough she found a Vegan Friendly cafe on her Vegan eating app and we strolled towards it. I remember thinking it was a bit of a long walk to the cafe (it wasn't) and then thinking  If you think thats a long walk Cooper what sodding chance will you have of completing this walk you fool!" I can be a bit tough on
Georgina Perry
myself. Louise had a vegan friendly burger and chips. I had an
animal unfriendly burger and chips. We strolled towards the Library. I remember feeling stuffed and unenergetic "No backing out now Cooper you idiot!" I thought.  The hall in the Library was beginning to fill up a bit for our 'send off' event with about 40 or so in the audience and a panel I was on with representatives from the Green Party, Frack Free Scarborough, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats and me for the Core Team of Walkers. All good earnest stuff from all the speakers about why Fracking was such a bad thing from different perspectives. I stood up to talk about the walk itself and it occurred to me that I didn't know who Carolyn Popple was or Georgina Perry. I knew Nigel Corser was meeting us the next day at Kirby Misperton Protection Camp where he was camping. In a moment of inspiration I said " Can
Ann Forsaith
all the people in the Core Group of walkers stand up". They did
to applause! Ah! Carolyn Popple doesn't always wear reflective sunglasses. She must be George. Right got that! I then went on to explain that we were the 'Fellowship of the Frack' and that every Fellowship should have a 'precious'. I revealed an old battered Harrogate Toffee Tin which had been the repository for our tea bags back home before I liberated it. I explained how soil would be dug up from Kirby Misperton Protection Camp and carried all the way to Preston New Road where Lancashire and Yorkshire soil would be mixed together. Then the soil would be used to help plant a self seeded oak tree sapling that Ann Forsaith was bringing with her from Yorkshire. This was to be a symbolic act to demonstrate that an attack on land in Lancashire would be an attack on land in Yorkshire. Our soils were mixed, our fates entwined.

The meeting ended, we did some photos and went off to our respective beds for the night. We were to set off from Kirby Misperton at 7.00a.m. The next morning we would be on the road. Here we go.

The Fellowship of the Frack assembles (minus Nigel Corser)

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