IBMT President's New Year message

Post date: 31/12/2023

Marlene Sidaway is pictured second from left above at the 2023 Burston Strike School Rally with IBMT volunteer Beth Richards (left) and (from right) IBMT Archivist Alan Llloyd and IBMT Secretary Megan Dobney. She writes …

As we enter our 22nd year as a registered charity, it’s worth looking at the solid foundations we’ve laid for the future.

Our strength is in our members and Trustees representing Ireland, Scotland, Wales and many parts of England, who generously devote their time to the Trust.

It’s gratifying that so many members are active within local affiliated groups, organising lectures and events to spread the history of the Brigaders – and, importantly, to raise money to help run the Trust.

One of our main aims has always been to educate the public, especially younger people, about the Spanish Civil War. So we’re delighted that teaching aids for Key Stage 3 pupils in England are now available on our website. Thanks go to IBMT Chair Jim Jump, Professor Peter Anderson and historian and teacher Alex Clifford for this feat.

Speaking of education, on our website (, we host a digitised version of our ‘Antifascistas’ exhibition – the original is still available to hire. This was another of our achievements last year and one that I’m particularly proud of as I’ve been closely involved with managing the exhibition for some time.

Also on the website, you can view our database with details of more than 2,000 volunteers who went to Spain. It is run by Alan Lloyd, the IBMT Archivist, who is one of our Trustees and it’s an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to know more about the International Brigades.

Last summer, we welcomed Helen Oclee-Brown as our new Executive Officer. She has taken on the job with great gusto, editing our publications and dealing with the mass of correspondence we receive.

Helen works alongside Jim Jump, our Secretary, Megan Dobney, and our Treasurer, Paul Coles, who selflessly share their skills and knowledge to keep the IBMT running smoothly.

Lastly, I was delighted that our 2023 Annual General Meeting was held in Stockton-on-Tees, my own birthplace. Sharon Bailey and her team from Unite and the Battle of Stockton Campaign arranged a brilliant weekend with several social events nearby.

The door of The Golden Smog was always open, too; the pub’s landlord John Christie was instrumental in raising the memorial to the Stockton Brigaders on the wall in Wasp Nest Yard, close to the Georgian Theatre where the AGM and social were held.

Lively discussions during the AGM covered many aspects of our work, including the possibility of holding future AGMs as hybrid meetings. Watch this space!

All good wishes for 2024. I hope to meet many of you at events this year.

Marlene Sidaway is the President of the IBMT. She is an actress and partner of the late International Brigader David Marshall.

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