Who are the protesters on the Extinction Rebellion frontline?

UK News | Published:

A vicar, a teacher and a grandmother are among the huge crowds demonstrating in central London.

Extinction Rebellion protests

A grandmother-of-four, a vicar and a semi-retired teacher have joined huge crowds of climate change protesters attempting to bring central London to a standstill.

Extinction Rebellion’s demonstration, which has received support from former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, has defied the stereotype that environmental protesters are mainly students and radical campaigners.

Here are some of the faces joining the march.

– The grandmother

Grandmother-of-four Lucy Craig, 71, was arrested after joining the protest at Oxford Circus on Monday with members of her family.

Five police officers arrested the pensioner and several of her friends close to a pink boat used to block traffic at London’s busiest shopping street.

Ms Craig, who is retired, said only “bladder concerns” stopped her gluing herself to the boat like other demonstrators.


Extinction Rebellion protesters
Left to right: Annabel Gregory, Kate Hesketh, Lucy Craig and Maria Goddard at the Extinction Rebellion protest. Ms Craig, 71, was arrested on Monday night (Lucy Craig/PA)

“I was certainly not going to glue myself to anything – and with three friends I was sitting, just sitting and talking, but not attached to the boat,” she said.

“All four of us were of a certain age, I think I was definitely the oldest, we were all prepared to be arrested because for us there’s much less of a problem being arrested than for young people.”

She said they were detained in a round of “random” arrests, then taken to Kingston police station – miles from her north London home – but described the officers as “charming”.


Ms Craig said she came from a political family and has attended several demonstrations over the decades, including other anti-war protests.

Climate issues have become a “crisis”, she said.

– The vicar

Reverend Helen Burnett, 59, a Church of England vicar, joined the demonstration to “bring about change for the entire planet”.

She is one of several religious figures to back the cause, including Dr Williams – formerly one of the country’s most senior religious leaders.

Rev Burnett said an “immense cross section of people” were at the marches, adding: “I think that the support is growing and growing.

“The stereotype is sort of the dreadlocked hippy, but the conversations I have had with middle-aged mothers like myself, architects – all sorts of people have just realised, they have lay in bed and realised just how concerned they are.”

She described how Extinction Rebellion’s values of “reflection and contemplation” aligned with her faith.

“It began with a deep sense of there being something very wrong at the heart of our globe which is the climate emergency and feeling that I was really powerless about doing anything about this.”

– The teacher

Richard Baxter, a semi-retired teacher, 57, said upgrading the protests to block the Tube was justified to highlight climate change.

“I understand we’ve had quite an effect, a significant effect, on the traffic in the centre of London and in a way that’s getting attention.

“To ramp it up a bit, to then affect the Tube, that is a significant move. And just shows in a way that we want things to happen.”

Extinction Rebellion protests
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators in Oxford Circus (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

– The student

Maddie, 18, a college student who hopes to study medicine, said she was encouraged to support Extinction Rebellion by her parents.

“My mum and her friends have been involved recently in the movement and that’s been really inspiring,” she said.

“It’s international and it’s great being part of that community to spread this urgent message.

“We need to act for the planet and this needs to be the number one priority.

“We need politicians to listen and to have some indication that they know climate change is real, and that they’re going to act.

“There’s mixed emotions through being involved, it’s really exciting but also insecurity as well.

“I have applied to do medicine, and I’ve had offers. I really want to be involved but equally not know how that might affect my own aspirations.

“I think that’s weighed quite heavily on young people, it being this amazing movement that’s so important to a lot of people.”

– The marketing worker

Sarah Henderson, 40, from Cornwall, is a full-time marketing and support worker for a not-for-profit environmental organisation.

She joined the demonstrations on Monday because she believes humanity is “raping the planet”.

Ms Henderson, a vegan, said the regenerative culture of Extinction Rebellion convinced her to join – and “traditional little marches down the street” no longer work.

“We are not paying attention to what the planet is trying to tell us, it’s in a lot of pain and we all know this,” she said.

Extinction Rebellion demonstrator Sarah Henderson

>Extinction Rebellion demonstrator Sarah Henderson, 40, said Earth ‘is in a lot of pain’ (Yolanthe Fawehinmi/PA)

“We have all had to think about potentially getting arrested. It’s pretty scary because most of us have never done something like this before.

“I’m not a law-breaker, I’m just fighting to save a planet that’s very close to extinction.

“We are not educated enough about climate change, it’s a bit like the political system. We aren’t taught much about it at school, and that’s how things like Brexit happen. It’s the same with this.

“The onus is on everyone, we are all part of the system. Our whole existence on the planet is dependent on this protest.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.


Top stories


More from Shropshire Star

UK & International News