Almost a thousand school-students across Norfolk demonstrated against the war on the day US and UK troops invaded Iraq. More than two hundred walked out of schools in Norwich itself. One group raised an Amnesty International banner at a major road-junction demanding respect for human rights in Iraq. Many students reached the city centre and joined the day-long demonstrations there. Others demonstrated locally. Pat Yarker talked to Ashleigh Dobson (15) and Tara Ketteringham (16), Year 11 students at Taverham High School.
Can you tell me what happened on the day war began?
Tara: Lots of people in year 11 were talking about not agreeing with the war. We organised a protest to show this. We just talked amongst ourselves to set it up.
Ashleigh: It was word of mouth.
Tara: Everyone was standing around the gate and we decided to walk out. We led it and everyone followed. We wanted to get to City Hall, four miles away, to join the demonstration there.
Ashleigh: We didn't quite get that far! But we did get interviewed by Anglia TV.
What did they ask?
Tara: They asked why we were doing this and why we were against the war. I said I couldn't see the point of innocent people getting killed. Our country didn't need to get involved.
Ashleigh: Yes. Two wrongs don't make a right.
How did your protest end?
Tara: The Deputy Heads came looking for us all in the minibus. They promised us there would be an organised protest in school. We could write letters to our MP and sign petitions. Most of us decided to go back to school. We felt we'd made our point, especially after being interviewed on the TV.
Ashleigh: But there was nothing here when we came back.
Were you punished in any way for taking part in this protest?
Tara: No. We apologised to our Head Teacher though. There were people from all years on the protest, and I felt bad that the year 8 kids were involved.
Ashleigh: My tutor told me off.
How did your parents and people at home feel about what you'd done?
Tara: I texted my Dad before we walked out to see if he'd support me. My Mum was annoyed that my sister had missed her cooking-lesson because of all the confusion in school.
Ashleigh: When I got home my step-Dad called me Emmeline, after Emmeline Pankhurst!
How do you feel about what you did?
Ashleigh: We feel proud of ourselves. We put our point across.
Tara: Yes. We made a point. It helped that we weren't the only school in the county where there were protests.
Ashleigh: We were protesting peacefully to make our point.
Would you consider going on any of the big demonstrations in London?
Tara: I'd be concerned at what the police might do.
Ashleigh: I'd go with my dad.