When it comes to determined eco-revolutionaries, there are surely Nan better than these unlikely white-haired warriors.
Armed with flagons of tea and fruit cake, and dressed in flowing white robes, they are fighting for their grandchildren’s future.
And their foes are the frackers of shale gas company Cuadrilla.
The grans in Suffragette outfits are waging war at a site in Lancashire where drilling caused 34 mini earthquakes in October.
And their message to Cuadrilla is: “We’re not for shale.”
The quakes – registering up to 1.1 on the Richter scale – have only served to strengthen resolve among the battling grans.
Many of them have been campaigning to stop fracking near the village of Little Plumpton ever since a field was earmarked
for it in 2014.
Since then they’ve laid down in roads to stop lorries, with one 84-year-old protestor claiming to have been manhandled by police. Their leader has even been threatened with prison and they’ve been branded alcoholics and “unemployed anarchists”.
But Angie Mosher – a co-founder of the group who have their own ‘Nana’ codenames – hit back defiantly.
“If the s**t hits the fan we will roll up our sleeves and sort it out,” stormed Angie, 48 a barber shop owner known to the others as ‘Nana Inappropriate’.
“We are mothers and grandmothers and strong Lancashire women. Mums may tell you off, but if you get your nana angry – woe betide you.
“We will not have fracking on our doorstep.”
In the last few weeks their ranks at the site’s perimeter fence – in which they have woven their grandchildren’s names – have been boosted by more than 1,000 locals stunned into action by the tremors that went on for three weeks before Cuadrilla investigated the problem and deemed it safe to start drilling again.
The controversial fracking process involves pumping a cocktail of chemicals, water and sand at high pressure into the ground via wells to break up rock and extract shale gas for fuel.
Fears are growing that the chemicals will poison the county’s water and air and hasten climate change.
Olive Yates, 71, a grandmother of 20, told us she and her cantankerous comrades were doggedly fighting for “grandchildren everywhere”.
After a singsong for the PM’s benefit – “Can you hear the drills, Theresa” to the tune of Abba’s Fernando – Olive said: “We’ve got to fight it for all the younger generations.
“Humans can live without anything – but not water and fresh air.”
Olive lives three miles from the site and says her “heart fell” when the fracking started.
The women were called up for gran warfare in 2014 by founding member Tina Rothery, 56, when the plans for the site were first revealed. They kicked off their protest with a three-week unlawful occupation of the field near Blackpool being considered for shale gas exploration.
Since then they have staged a 24/7 vigil at the site with members lying in the road to halt deliveries.
It’s hard to believe some once had careers as teachers, copywriters, IT workers and business owners.
Now they have front line codenames to keep their real names secret from police.
They include Nana Filthy Poppins, Nana Totty, Nana Bubbles, inspired by Ab Fab, and the Blackadder-inspired Nana Queenie.
Jo Hans, 71, is a grandmother of four from Blackpool.
She says: “I’m doing it for my grandchildren, I tell everyone that. I don’t want them to grow up and people say, ‘It was a wonderful world but the Government’s actions ruined it’.”
In 2011, Cuadrilla stopped tests of fracking after the area experienced two earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude. A High Court case brought by anti-fracking campaigner Bob Dennett failed to halt work after the Government gave the go-ahead in 2016. Mr Dennett argued Lancashire County Council failed to assess safety risks properly, but Mr Justice Supperstone said there was “no evidence” to support the claim.
Then came last month’s 34 tremors. And now the Nanas are even more prepared to endure name-calling and the threat of injury in police scuffles to make their voices heard. Gran-of-four Julie Daniels, 58, of South Shore, said: “People try to slander us by calling us alcoholics and unemployed anarchists.
“But we are concerned grandmothers and parents. We are the people you meet at the school gates.”
Julie is just one of the nanas who claim to have been hurt by police outside the site. She says she was pushed to the ground by an officer, bruising her hip. The group also claim their oldest member, an 84-year-old, was knocked over and dragged along by officers. The nanas are aware they run the risk of fines and police action.
Founder Tina was spared a two week prison sentence for contempt of court in 2016 after failing to pay £55,342 in legal fees to Cuadrilla and a land owner over the nanas’ three-week field sit-in. The firm is not pursuing the costs given Tina cannot pay it– but have vowed to do so should her financial circumstances change. She says she has no intention of ever coughing up.
Every Wednesdays, the band of nanas don their Suffragette dresses for a peaceful march to the site. Last week marked the 66th of these ‘Call for Calm’ marches born out of fears the protests were getting too violent for many of the older members.
Locals show their support for the nanas by honking their horns as they drive by.
But Tina said: “We need the disabled, the infirm, those in wheelchairs out here. We need more brittle bones, more colostomy bags, more Zimmer frames. We need to be out here for our young people.” But not everyone in Lancashire is opposed to fracking.
Lee Petts, 44, is the MD of his own consulting company and chairman of Lancashire for Shale, a pro-fracking group. He argues the area will benefit threefold from the investment and jobs the project could bring to the area.
He said: “Lancashire is way behind Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire in terms of the economy and investment.
“Just looking at Blackpool you can see how depressed the area is. Fracking is part of the answer.”
Amid the nanas’ protest, last week Cuadrilla announced the that the controversial site on the Fylde coast had produced shale gas. A spokesman said: “Cuadrilla has no objection to peaceful, law-abiding protest.
But illegal obstructions to the highway outside our site have caused immense inconvenience and disruption to road users, local businesses and even emergency vehicles.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “Our aim is to ensure a policing response maximising the safety of all concerned.
“We also recognise there is a balance between the rights of people to peacefully protest, together with the rights of the wider public, including local businesses, to go about their lawful activities.
“We aim to prevent, where possible, crime and disorder, but if it does occur we will provide an effective, lawful and proportionate response.”