Many people, if asked of inspirational people, talk of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Che, or perhaps Nelson Mandela. At Desmond Tutu House, you don't have to look back in history or travel abroad to meet inspiring people. I often walk into my chapel and pass Sylvia sitting on the sofa of the CND office.
Sylvia, a grandmother for peace, has long been an activist. As a Quaker, she is convinced of the need for justice and an end to the domination of the arms trade and the nuclear missile industry.
What makes this woman stand out is her commitment to take part in non-violent direct action (alongside her wonderful sense of humour!) Her refusal to pay a fine, having been convicted of aggravated trespass and breach of the peace during a protest at Faslane nuclear base in 2009, has resulted in her imprisonment. At Bingley magistrates court yesterday, she was sentenced to 14 days at her majesties pleasure, the third peace protester imprisoned this month.
The crime is not hers, though she is willing to pay the price for her activities. The crime is a state willing to build such weapons, capable of such horrendous destruction. Not only is it a moral crime, but a financial one during a time of government cutbacks on a massive scale throughout the land. While our nation continues to demonstrate our power with nuclear missiles, we become impotent in any argument to persuade other nations to remain nuclear free.
Sylvia Boyes, you are an inspiration and a source of sanity in a nation of nuclear madness.