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Scottish campaigner’s memory lives on


A new project examining the impact of Falkirk born Sheila McKechnie will examine social and political change through the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Sheila McKechnie
Sheila McKechnie

The legacy of a Scottish social rights and justice campaigner is to be immortalised in an online archive.

The Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) has received £66,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its The Mark of a Great Campaigner project.

It will explain the social and political changes of the 1970s, 80s and 90s by mapping McKechnie’s legacy and influence on some of the issues she was passionate about: housing and homelessness, equal pay, feminism and women’s rights, freedom of information and trade unions.

Through a digital resource it is hoped those wanting to create change will be inspired to take up McKechnie's mantle and students will also be encouraged to learn about and debate issues around democracy, rights and justice.

Linda Butcher, SMK chief executive, said SMK wants to empower people to take an active role in democracy.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to document Sheila’s formidable campaigning and the impact she made on so many people – most of whom won’t even know it,” she said.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to document Sheila’s formidable campaigning and the impact she made on so many people

“This project is all about providing people with the tools and knowledge needed to create change, whilst bringing them up to date with a time in history that has real implications for society today.”

With her background in the feminist movement, trade unions, as chief executive Shelter and then at the helm of Which?, Sheila McKechnie was one of the most influential women in the UK from the 1980s until her death from cancer in 2004 at the age of 55.

In 2001, BusinessAge ranked her at number nine of the 50 Most Powerful Women, just two places after the Queen.

Sue Bowers, Head of HLF London, added: “Sheila McKechnie was a tireless campaigner whose achievements have impacted the lives of many people in so many ways.

“The project will create a varied range of opportunities for assessing and appreciating her legacy in the fields of social and political change.”

SMK is partnering with a number of organisations for the project including The British Library, Bishopsgate Institute, Falkirk Community Trust, Foyer Federation, Shelter and Which?.



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