Sam Gurney was appointed as Regional Secretary for the Trades Union Congress London, East and South East Region in January 2018. Prior to this he was acting head of the TUC’s Equality and Strategy department. His Previous roles at the TUC include; Senior Strategy and Development Officer and Policy Officer in the International Department. He was a member of the Governing Body of the UN International Labour Organisation 2009-2017.
Before he joined the TUC in 2003 he was a Regional Organiser for GMB union London Region and an Assistant National Organiser at Connect.
Nicola is a passionate advocate for women’s equality. While working in East London she founded Women East, an ongoing project looking at ways to create conversation, space and platforms for women in East London through arts and politics - beginning with a series of art workshops in Bow, roads away from the site of the Bryant and May factory. Nicola completed a degree with The Open University, specialising in Creative Writing, and it was through writing an article on The Matchgirls that she came to be involved with the charity, inspired and keen on exploring how the story resonates for women and workers today.
Josie is UNISON’s National Women’s Officer. Responsible for ensuring the issues that concern women are incorporated in UNISON’s bargaining agenda and lobbying and campaigning priorities. Before taking up this role in December 2018, Josie was the lead negotiator for the Royal College of Nursing. She was National Staff Side Secretary for the NHS Staff Council, a role she held for 14 years. Josie has also worked in the NHS, as HR Director for a London teaching hospital and in local government. Josie was a councillor for the London Borough of Haringey from 1990 to 2003 and was Deputy Leader 1999 -2003. In both her professional and political roles, she has always championed women’s issues and sought to make a difference to their lives at work and at home.
Geoff was a trade union lawyer with Thompsons since 1971, setting up their Newcastle-upon-Tyne office in 1980, then returning to London in 1991 and subsequently becoming CEO and then Executive Chair. He retired from the firm in 2009 to set up Union Solidarity International, an international social media campaign platform for rank and file trade unionists, which in 2018 was transferred to the global union, IndustriALL. He is Treasurer of the Institute of Employment Rights,and a Vice-Chair of CLASS (the Centre for Labour and Social Studies).
He is active in a number of progressive campaigns, and came to the Matchgirls by way of the magnificent musical at Wilton’s. This reignited his love of the demand for “bread and roses”, by which women workers had inspired resistance in the US, and later the Revolution in Russia, just as the Matchgirls' Strike inspired the Great Dock Strike of 1889, and in turn the rise of “New Unionism” amongst unskilled workers.
Asma is Labour and Cooperative Councillor in Tower Hamlets for Weavers ward (2022) and previously represented Mile End ward (2018-2022).
She is currently Tower Hamlets Labour group’s Shadow Cabinet member for Regeneration, Inclusive Development and Housebuilding and previously served in Cabinet for Environment and planning brief (2020-2022).
Asma is a proud Eastender and passionate about local heritage and working with local communities and voluntary and community sector to teach the next generation about the east end heritage.
Asma’s background is in the voluntary and community sector where she worked in a women’s organisation which focused on building capacity and provided skills and training for women going into work.
Asma also previously sat on London Councils' Transport and Environment committee and various boards such as the Tower Hamlets Homes board and the University Schools Trust.
Anna is a heritage professional, passionate about researching, sharing and telling excluded histories. She completed a Heritage Management Master’s degree at Queen Mary University of London, in partnership with Historic Royal Palaces. A History with English graduate, she previously worked for the National Trust and museums in the South West before starting her MA. Anna’s experience in the sector ranges from researching women’s histories, to working with decolonisation practice, collections and visitor experience. It was through her research piece for Queen Mary entitled ‘The Matchgirls Memorial: a case study in gender and class within the heritage of protest in East London’, that she became involved with the charity. Anna is was also a post-graduate consultant at Queen Mary, researching social impact in the community. She helped to develop a stronger relationship between the university, the local community and The Matchgirls Memorial.
Louise is a songwriter, singer and performer with an MA in Human Rights who shares hidden women’s stories through song & storytelling. She has ten years’ experience touring the UK & Europe and has released seven recordings with radio including BBC Radio 2 Folk Show and BBC Radio 4.
Louise’s solo productions include ‘No Petticoats Here’ about extraordinary women of the First World War, ‘The Hard Way: the story of working class suffragette Hannah Mitchell’ and ‘Florence: the lesser known life and legacy of Florence Nightingale’.
Louise has been commissioned by UK Parliament, Groninger Museum, Dreadnought SouthWest and the Victoria & Albert Museum to write about women’s history and she shares her approach to engaging audiences with hidden stories at conferences and events.
A qualified secondary teacher & educator, Louise supports young musicians to write about women’s history, for example through the project ‘Never Had They Ever’.