A blog by Helen Antrobus, Business Development Officer
In June 2016, something very exciting happened in the People’s History Museum. In front of an audience of 200 people, Betty Tebbs, aged 98, told the story of her life. From all the evaluation forms and feedback the staff at the museum received, she inspired so many more people to go and join peace movements, social campaigns, and political parties. Her standing ovation was incredible. This was the moment Betty was made a Radical Hero of the People’s History Museum, in recognition of the astounding life of activism she had led.
Elizabeth Tebbs was born in 1918, the same year women were finally granted the vote and World War I ended. She first became politically active at 14, when she was paid two shillings less than the boy next to her at the paper mill where they worked, just for being a girl. After joining her trade union at East Lancashire Paper Mill, Betty remained there for seventeen years – becoming Mother of the Chapel and leading the women out on strikes.
This fiery spirit and fight for equality was present through her entire life. Once a Labour councillor, a member of the Communist Party and the President of the National Assembly of Women, Betty travelled the world fighting for women’s rights, peace, and change. From Greenham Common to being arrested outside Trident aged 89, Betty was involved in the major campaigns and protests of the last sixty years, even being part of a delegation at the Geneva peace talks between the USA and the Soviet Union.
Betty’s energy, optimism, and hope never left her. Sharp and witty, she carried on speaking out for peace and socialism. Betty passed away peacefully at her home on 23rd January 2017. Everybody at the museum, and many people who visited, were touched by Betty’s story, and inspired by her. Her legacy will continue, and she will never be forgotten.