Trustees

Sam Johnson

Sam is the Chair of the Board of Trustees and also the Great Granddaughter of Sarah Chapman. Having discovered Sarah’s role in the Strike at the back end of 2016, Sam has thrown herself into commemorating the achievements of the Matchgirls in 1888, including arranging a memorial walk in 2018, giving talks, saving the grave of Sarah from being mounded, and setting up a charity, The Matchgirls Memorial. The charity aims to ensure the story and its importance is kept alive with the younger generation, and to secure a lasting memorial to the Matchgirls in the East End of London.

In her spare time Sam tries to find time for her full-time job in renewable energy!

Polly Creed

Polly Creed is an award-winning director, writer, and activist.  Polly is a founder of Power Play, a theatre company and think tank that carries out original data research around gender inequality in the arts, as well as programming new work by women. Polly's work has won a Scotsman Fringe First and she has recently been shortlisted for the Old Vic 12.

Polly's activist and theatrical work has been featured in various papers, and platforms, including The Independent, The Scotsman, The Stage, The I, The Guilty Feminist podcast. Her play Humane will appear at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington in 2020 and she is currently working on a new children's book.

Graham Johnson

Graham is proud to support his wife in her efforts to promote the story of the 1888 Matchgirls Strike, just as she has supported him for his family history.

The subject has so many facets - the industrial process, its development here and internationally, its sociology linking working and upper classes, its development as a tool of protest in the arts - theatre and music. All of these appeal to Graham and his background as an industrial chemist, in archaeology and museums, in his forensic approach to research, and an attraction to law. The wide range of people Graham has encountered is rewarding. 

However, the project does keep Graham from his tennis and badminton!

Rachel McGrath

Back in February 2019 Rachel wrote in her community column in the local Northampton Chronicle and Echo entitled 'What have unions done for us?' her strong belief in the campaign for the lasting recognition of the Bow Matchgirls and women's key contribution to the new trade union and Labour movement. Since then, she has been an ardent supporter of the cause. She has worked in the charitable sector for over 20 years and is currently Chair of Northampton South Labour Party. She is keenly aware of the need to promote our shared social history and the role of the Matchgirls in the hard-won rights at work that benefit all of us today: 'I think we need more memorials and statues that represent ordinary people that have gone before us who have helped build a better and safer world, to inspire us and to make sure we never forget their bravery and courage in the face of adversity.'

Anna Robinson

Anna Robinson is a poet who is interested in history, particularly the history of working class women. While doing her M.A. in Public History at Ruskin College Oxford, (2002-4), she conducted research and wrote a biography of Sarah Chapman, one of the strike leaders. Her poetry collections are 'The Finders of London' (2010), 'Into the Woods' (2014) and 'The Night Library' (2015) and 'Whatsname Street' (2021).

Neil Jameson CBE

Neil is the founder and ex Executive Director of Citizens UK - the home of Community Organising. CUK was founded in 1988 and follows many other examples of groups and individuals coming together in East London to fight for justice and the common good. CUK’s first London Citizens Assembly took place in Tower Hamlets in 1996. This, and the tenth anniversary, featured local people dressed as the Matchgirls of 1888 and the Striking Dockers of 1889 - to put in historical context the present day struggles and those great Organisers like Sarah Chapman who came before us. 

Neil is a Fellow of Queen Mary University of London and an Honorary Doctor of the Open University. He was awarded the CBE for ’services to Community Organising and Social Justice’. The Royal Society of Arts awarded Neil the annual Albert Medal of 2018 for life time achievements that make a major difference to Civil Society. 

He and his family have lived in Stepney for the last 20 years and have no plans to leave!

Fiona Castle

Fiona feels pleased to have become part of such an interesting and passionate group.

As one of Annie Besant's descendants Fiona is happy to be able to take a role in continuing Annie's legacy to the Matchgirls cause and supporting the development of a lasting memorial for all the Matchgirls. 

Working in the field of social justice, Fiona is also drawn to connect the history and lessons of the Matchgirls success with contemporary issues for all ages but particularly the young. She looks forward to working together with the ‘team’ to bring forward the aims of the organisation.

Ken Dearman

Ken is the Grandson of Sarah Chapman and, as far as it is known, is the only living descendant to have actually met a Matchgirl that took part in the 1888 Strike. Ken is very proud of his family's East End heritage, and of Sarah’s prominent role in the Strike. He recalls meeting her when he was young and receiving a gift of a red train engine. A reflection of the commitment to the East End is Ken’s shared support of West Ham United with his Dad, Sarah’s middle Son. William, like Sarah, was born and bred in the East End and he was one of the @300,000 to attend the famous White Horse Cup Final at Wembley in 1923.

Carol Watts

Carol is a strong believer in equal rights for Women and was thrilled to discover in 2016 that her great grandmother, Sarah Dearman (nee Chapman) was one of the Matchgirls Strike Committee. Following the Strike, Sarah was elected to the new Union Committee, was the first delegate to the 1888 International TUC in London and also attended the Liverpool TUC in 1890. Carol has a background in Local Government administration and is delighted to take on the role of Trustee Secretary for 'The Matchgirls Memorial'.