Headscarf Revolutionary Yvonne Blenkinsop given freedom of Hull

Published
image captionYvonne Blenkinsop is the only survivor of the four Headscarf Revolutionaries

A woman whose part in a trawler safety campaign was estimated to have saved thousands of lives has been given the Honorary Freedom of Hull.

Yvonne Blenkinsop is the only survivor of the four women, dubbed the Headscarf Revolutionaries, whose fight changed the fishing industry in the 1960s.

The other three were Lillian Bilocca, Christine Jensen and Mary Denness.

Brian W Lavery, author of a book on their fight, said he "couldn't think of a better recipient".

Her son Brian Blenkinsop said he was "immensely proud" of his mother who he said was "over the moon" with the award.

"At the time women were largely 'seen and not heard' especially in the fishing community," he added.

"During the campaign this guy walked up to my mam and smacked her in the face and said in no uncertain terms 'mind your own business'.

"What they managed to do in a couple of weeks is amazing."

media captionDid the rewards on offer to fishermen make the risk worthwhile?

Their campaign started when 58 fishermen based in the port lost their lives in three separate trawler sinkings in the space of less than a month in 1968.

The trawlers - St Romanus, Kingston Peridot and Ross Cleveland - all sunk in quick succession. Only one man survived.

The women collected a 10,000-signature petition calling for reform, led protest meetings and lobbied politicians.

Among the measures the campaign won were safety checks before vessels left port, radio operators for all ships, improved safety equipment and a "mother ship" with medical facilities for all fleets.

Councillor Peter Allen, the city's lord mayor, said: "Yvonne Blenkinsop's relentless pursuit and demand for improvements in safety legislation has saved thousands of lives."

Her "historic contribution" was "remarkable and humbling", he added.

The council also acknowledged the contributions of all four in recognition of their work.

image captionFifty-eight men lost their lives in the 1968 trawler tragedies

Mrs Bilocca died in 1988, Mrs Jensen MBE in 2001 and Mary Denness in 2017.

Mr Lavery said: "It is a tribute to her and Mrs Bilocca, Mrs Jensen and Mrs Denness but such awards can't be posthumous."

The author coined the Headscarf Revolutionaries phrase by using it as the title of his book on the sinkings and the safety campaign that ensued.

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