On 10th April, 50 young people set out on the 40 mile march to Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment. The march, organised by Youth & Student CND, was to protest against Britain's nuclear weapons.
DAY 1 The first day saw a short rally in Bonn Square. Gawain Little (national committee Y&S CND) opened the event, reminding us all why we were marching, "to demand an end to Britain's nuclear weapons". He also spoke about the new developments at Aldermaston that could lead to the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons. The Rev. David Platt (Christian CND) commended the march, "to point out where the weapons of mass destruction really are... in Aldermaston, being built by a country that is signed up to the non-proliferation treaty". David and Rene Gill (Oxford CND), who had taken part in the very first march to Aldermaston in 1958, spoke about their motivations for marching then and now. A sombre reading from Hiroshima was given, telling of the horror when a nuclear weapon was used. The couple joined the youth march for the whole of the first day.
Despite the overcast sky, spirits were high and we marched along St Aldates and out of Oxford, 15 miles to Wallingford. Along the way, people looked out of their windows to see who we were and cars beeped their horns in support. Not everyone was friendly, but they all knew why we were there. A good many homes that evening must have had conversations about the nuclear weapons establishment in Berkshire.
Blisters and aching legs didn't stop the evening being a time to celebrate. There's not much point being against destruction and suffering if you can't enjoy life! Music, dancing, films and good food gave a wonderful atmosphere to the hall where we stayed.
DAY 2 The second day's march was from Wallingford to Reading. The route was a little quieter and we could enjoy the walk. In Reading, 15 miles later, we were received by the Reading Quakers. The march from London also arrived in Reading in the evening and we were able to share food and tales of sore feet!
DAY 3 Monday began with a gathering at Broad St, Reading, where around 200 people awaited the London march. The marchers on the Youth March joined the procession with more energy than might have been expected after 2 days of walking! Samba, singing and talking with people who were, by now, old friends, meant the day passed quickly. By the time the procession left Burghfield, there were around 1000 people marching. The atmosphere was tremendous, with people tired, but proud of the distance they'd marched and eager to make their protest heard. Well done to everyone who marched - let's make it even better next year!