Posted on 20/03/2021Comments Off on HELEN JOHNSTON

When did you first attend the SODEM protest outside Parliament and why did you come? 

My first time was March 2018. I was travelling from my home in Spain to visit family in the UK, I flew in via London, and had time to kill before travelling on. I had seen Steve Bray on the news and social media and thought I’d go by to say thank you. I ended up staying most of the day.

Roughly how old are you?


How frequently did you come and when was the last time you attended?

I attended 8 or 9 times over 2018 and 2019. I made a point of travelling via London when I came over to see family, and went to SODEM on my way there or back, and I also came over for some of the big marches and tried to combine it with a day or two at SODEM. I also came over specifically a couple of times, when there was a big vote or Super-SODEM, and I could get cheap flights. Last time was October 2019, the day of the Queen’s Speech, it was raining and our blue umbrellas with yellow stars were visible in the background on TV as the Queen went by in her carriage! I had flights booked to come again in March 2020, but of course I never made it. When we can travel again, I’ll be back. Now more than ever, we need to stand up for our right to protest, and be annoying!

How far from Westminster do you live and what was your travelling time?

About 1200km! 4 or 5 hours by plane and train/underground/bus.

What’s your favourite memory?

Lots of great memories, principally of the lovely people I met at SODEM, who restored my faith in the people of Britain after the body-blow of the referendum. Some have become valued friends, like David Powell, pictured here with me, Femi and Madeleina Kay. Highlights include the march on Downing Street the day of the taxi drivers’ strike, creeping up behind Jacob Rees-Mogg with Steve and a pair of placards, waving lights and flags for the evening news, and being interviewed in the pouring rain by Chinese journalists who I thought were from an obscure English TV station but apparently I was live on China TV!

Tell me your story

British citizen living in Spain, denied a vote in the referendum that messed with all our lives. After the shock and anger of the referendum, my first opportunity to “do something” was the big march in March 2017, but a slipped disc put me out of action. I spent a lot of 2017 after that being a keyboard warrior, participating in letter writing campaigns and facebook groups. I got more active in 2018 and 2019, both on-line and attending every march and rally I could. I even organised a demo myself – In Barcelona outside the British Consulate to protest the proroguing of Parliament, which about 100 people turned up to! For the last year there has been no marching, of course, but I’m still trying to do my bit behind the scenes as a member of the Bremain in Spain council, raising awareness about the disastrous effects of Brexit on British citizens in the EU, and campaigning for the restoration of our voting rights. 

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