Discussion on children’s rights 200 years after Valentine’s death

Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council (NCCC) are holding a panel discussion on Tuesday (April 5) on how far children’s rights have come over the last 200 years and what is still needed today, particularly on issues around child poverty.

It is part of Newport’s ‘Year of the Child’, inspired by the 200th anniversary of the child chimney-sweep, Valentine Gray.

John Valentine Gray, the ‘Little Sweep’ was a 10-year-old child whose death, in 1822, at the hands of his master, Benjamin Davis, helped force the passing of the Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulations Act of 1840, widely known as the Climbing Boys Act. It prohibited anybody below the age of 21 to be forced to climb chimneys, before then boys as young as six were routinely used to clean them, often naked.

The panel will include Roger Fruen, a local historian who has studied court records on Valentine Gray’s case, Jess Green of the IW Youth Trust, Isaac Lethbridge, IW representative on Youth Parliament 2019-22, Stuart Ashley, deputy director of children’s services and Cllr Vix Lowthian, teacher and member of NPCC. The event is free and open to all. It will be held from 5pm to 7pm in the Sixth Form College at Nodehill in Newport.

On April 29, the IW Sealed Writ Society will be staging a re-enactment of the murder trial of Valentine Gray at Quay Arts centre, using information from original court manuscripts and newspapers published at the time. The audience will be the jury. Due to the graphic nature of some of the content it is open to over-14s only. Tickets £10, all proceeds to the IW Youth Trust, from quayarts.org or 822490.