“Buried Alive by the National Coal Board”

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Last week across the country but particularly in Wales we have been thinking of Aberfan and the terrible events that unfolded there fifty years ago. The main emphasis has been on the tragedy of it all and the terribly sad loss of all those children and the implications for their families and friends. In all this, in a way that mirrored the event itself, the National Coal Board has got off rather lightly. Occasionally though  criticism has emerged. Midway through Karl Jenkins’ brilliant religious Cantata Memoria – for the children – Bryn Terfel sang: “Buried Alive by the National Coal Board”. Here he was echoing the words of the grieving father driven beyond limits by the coroner’s talk of “asphyxia and multiple injuries”  This was not what he wanted on the death certificate of his child, he wanted the NCB to be held responsible. Others agreed and there  were cries of “murderers” .

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Dave Hopper 1943 – 2016

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Dave Hopper was born on April 8 1943, the first son of Timothy and Barbara, in a small colliery house directly opposite the gates of Wearmouth Colliery, Sunderland, where his father worked. His primary education was basic and, at a time when fewer than ten percent of Sunderland’s children were awarded a place at a grammar school, Dave spent a year in the local secondary modern before passing the entrance exam for Villiers Street Secondary Technical School. He was an able pupil, a keen footballer and was already honing that legendary acerbic wit that delighted his classmates and annoyed the teaching staff in equal measure. 

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A Thousand Mourners Say Goodbye to Davey Hopper

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(Photo: PA)

On Friday 29th July, a thousand mourners attended the funeral service of Davey Hopper at the historic Miners’ Hall in Durham.

Numerous miners’ banners and trade union banners lined the route and moving tributes were paid to Davey by the speakers, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

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Dave Hopper Funeral Arrangements

Notice of Dave Hopper’s Funeral Arrangements: 

The funeral service will take place on Friday 29th July at the Miners’ Hall, Red Hill, Flass Street, Durham, DH1 4BE, starting at 9.45am.

It will be a humanist service conducted by Rodney Bickerstaffe, former general secretary of Unison.

Please make donations in lieu of flowers to the Friends of the Durham Miners' Gala: http://www.friendsofdurhamminersgala.org/join_us

Please arrive early and note that unfortunately there will be not be any parking available at the Miners’ Hall or in the immediate vicinity. See the following links for parking in Durham city: http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/3486/Durham-City-car-parks Or here for the Park and Ride: http://www.durham.gov.uk/parkandride The Miners' Hall is 10 minutes walk from Durham railway station. 

The evening before, on Thursday 28th July there will be a celebration of Dave’s life at Sacriston Workingmen’s Club, Edward Street, DH7 6NW, from 7pm -11pm, which will include live music and a buffet.

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Durham Miners' Association Statement: Dave Hopper

Statement on behalf of Durham Miners' Association Executive Committee:
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of our Secretary, Dave Hopper, who died unexpectedly on Saturday 16 July at 4.00pm.
 
Dave was elected General Secretary of the NUM (Durham Area) in 1985 and led the union through the difficult years in the aftermath of the 1984/85 strike and the final closure of the Durham Coalfield. He was an inspirational leader who held firm to his deeply felt socialist principles.
 
Last Saturday Dave presided over the 132nd Durham Miners Gala the 31st under his leadership – the greatest number of any General Secretary. This Gala attracted the largest crowd in 60 years and this achievement and the Galas to come will be his legacy.
 
At this moment our thoughts are with his family and those closest to him.
 
Details of the funeral will be announced at a later date.
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Durham Miners' Association Statement

In an article in the Guardian on 9th July 2016, it was stated that Tom Blenkinsop MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland had an invitation to the 132nd Durham Miners’ Gala withdrawn. This is untrue. No invitation was withdrawn, as Blenkinsopp was never invited in the first place and has never once received an invitation since his election in 2010.

Secondly, the claim by Mr Blenkinsop that Mr David Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association receives a salary of 70k per year is a blatant lie and distortion. We are currently seeking legal advice regarding this false claim. 

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Jeremy Corbyn Receives a Hero's Welcome at the Gala

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The 132nd Durham Miners' Gala will be remembered for a long time, as a record crowd filled the streets of Durham city. On the racecourse, the largest crowd for generations – including thousands of young people – gathered in an incredible show of support for the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn and heard from supportive Labour MPs and trade union leaders including Dennis Skinner and Frances O'Grady.

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Statement on 132nd Durham Miners' Gala

Contrary to recent press reports, Labour MPs who refused to support Jeremy Corbyn in the recent vote of confidence have not been "banned" or "barred" from attending this year's Gala. The Gala is a public event which anyone can attend.

However, the invitations to attend the official Durham Miners’ Association events and functions, stand on the balcony of the County Hotel and grace the platform on the Racecourse have been rescinded. 

Jeremy Corbyn is a guest of the Durham Miners’ Association at this year’s Gala and we will not allow those who have sought to humiliate him and undermine the democratic process in the Labour Party the honour of taking part in the aforementioned Gala traditions.

Dave Hopper, General Secretary, Durham Miners' Association
Monday 4th July 2016

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Gala Message from the DMA General Secretary

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I would first like to extend my deepest sympathy to the husband of Jo Cox, her young children and her wider family and friends who loved. She was an outstanding Memberof Parliament, a deeply committed humanitarian and the labour movement can ill afford to lose such a valued and dedicated comrade.

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Durham Miners Statement: "Defend Jeremy Corbyn - Defend Democracy in the Labour Party"

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A group of so-called Labour MPs appear to have conspired to use the vote on EU membership - called by our political enemies the Tories - as an excuse to overthrow our democratically elected leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

These people, many of whom are unheard of, cannot stand any form of democracy and appear to be interested only in themselves. They are attempting to blame Corbyn for the way people of this country have voted in a democratic referendum on EU membership. Do they really believe that ordinary voters do not know how they should vote?

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