A 'Special Breed' of Men

Fri, 26/04/2013 - 16:00
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By Danny Cooke-It has been a great pleasure to work with Marlene Guest for a number of years, quite simply because were made from the same Yorkshire mould, 'tell it like it is'.

So when Marlene rang me to say 'Eyup lad would you like a report doing for your 'Orgreave Inquiry Campaign' I jumped at the chance.

At the turn of the last century my maternal grandparents came from Wigan to work in the Yorkshire coalfields, first in Goldthorpe and finally at Silverwood pit near Rotherham.

My Grandad volunteered for the First World War and was gassed in the trenches on the Somme but came home safe to work down the hole as it was called.

Grandad should never have done this but he had a family to feed. He worked regular nights and also had another job selling insurance three days a week.

He was also the secretary of his local Workings Mens Club and keen gardener, growing vegetables and keeping chickens. He did not have an idle bone in his body.

As time wore on I watched this great man cough his lungs up for years just sat by the fire. A long lingering death well before his time.

This is the stock I am descended from so when the time came to support the miners in their fight to save their industry and future I fully supported them.

I had a business at the time of the 1984/85 Miners Strike selling reconditioned cookers and household appliances. Soon after the strike had started I got in touch with Social Services and offered to repair appliances for free for striking miners.

I was kept very busy with my van, moving stuff for miners and I always kept a packet of cigarettes in the glove box to throw out to the lads on the picket line.

In the pit villages all around me there are wheels from the pit heads set in stone as a reminder of the thriving, once close knit communities now destroyed and desolation left in its place.

My Uncles, cousins and many friends were made redundant, some never worked again. I am sure with time we would have discovered a way to burn clean coal to fire the Power Stations.

I believe we will go back to coal one day and we will no longer be held to ransom by the foreigners that run our utility companies.
My abiding memory of my Grandad is running beside him as he marched to the cenotaph with the pit banners flying and the brass band playing.

I saw strong colliers with blue flecks in their faces, who faced death everyday working down the pit, wiping tears from their faces at the memory of their fallen mates who fought during two World Wars.

Miners were a special breed of men, witty, carefree and fearless. They never deserved the treatment they received.

I was privileged to have had a Grandad who had his values, those which he passed onto me.

I was glad to help out those lads who fought to the bitter end.

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