Petition for memorial to NI gay rights activist Mark Ashton passes 26,000 signatures

A petition calling for public memorial to gay rights activist Mark Ashton in Portrush continues to gather momentum with over 26,000 signatures.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:59 am
Mark Ashton

A crowdfunding page set up to raise money for a blue plaque in his name has reached £2,500 of its £5,000 target in less than a week.

If successful the blue plaque for Mark Ashton would be the first to celebrate an LGBT campaigner in Northern Ireland.

The petition and campaign were started by lawyer Jude Copeland. He said: “I had anticipated some low number of signatures, the figures 70 and 300 were in my head. 

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“I can’t ask for public funds to be used for this memorial, but I have started a fundraising campaign for a plaque for Mark.

Portrush was Mark Ashton’s home place. His legacy is recognised in London, Wales and Paris. We are fundraising for a plaque so, finally, Portrush can have pride in Mark.”

Ashton, originally from Oldham, moved to the seaside resort at a young age and went to the catering college in the town.

After completing his studies, he moved to London in 1978 where he became an influential figure in the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners movement during the Miners’ strike.

As a co-founder of the group, Mark forged an unusual friendship with Welsh Miners, supporting them during the strikes in the 1980s.

Ashton died at 26 years old of AIDS-related illnesses in 1987.

The crowd funding page is: https://localgiving.org/appeal/PortrushAppeal4MarkAshton.