On Saturday 14 July 2018, I was delighted to attend in the 134th Durham Miners’ Gala, and of course it goes without saying that this event was a huge success.
The Gala was once again incredibly well attended, with an estimated 200,000 people from Durham and across the UK joining the celebration of our mining heritage. It was wonderful to see so many people enjoying the fabulous weather, and having such an good time with friends and family.
As well as being a great day out, the Miners’ Gala is a hugely symbolic event, reminding us all of the mining history of Durham and the wider region, the solidarity and strong sense of social justice our mining communities have left for us all, and of course remembering those miners who lost their lives working in the difficult and dangerous conditions in the mines. It is also a chance for us to recognise the important role that our Trade Unions have played in securing workers’ rights throughout the years.
This year I had the pleasure of joining members from our Sherburn branch, and we marched through Durham with the Sherburn Colliery banner, and their fantastic band. It is always great to catch up with people marching through Durham, as well as meeting some new faces on the way!
I was also able to join our City of Durham Labour Party banner for a while and catch up with Angela Hankin, our Chair, and local members too. A great time was being had by all.
The Labour Party Tea Tent was again a huge success, thanks to the hard work of our fundraising officer Hannah Walter, and our incredible, committed members. There were hordes of people popping in for a cuppa and a sandwich or one of the delicious cakes on offer. I am always so impressed by all of the work that not only goes into the day itself, but also in organising everything in the lead up to the Gala and so my thanks go to the officers of the CLP, and all of the volunteers who made the Tea Tent such a huge success. As usual, it proved to be the best place to go for much needed refreshments!
There were a range of speakers this year, including the Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke on a wide range of subjects, including health, education, poverty, and the unions.
Jeremy was joined by Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary, as well as Dennis Skinner MP, Ian Lavery MP, Joe Whitworth, Chair of The Durham Miners’ Association, and Alan Cummings, Secretary of the DMA.
This year, the stage set up and the acoustics for people listening was superb, and it was great to see this being used to its full effect with live music performed by Billy Bragg following the speeches.
Unfortunately, I did have to leave the platform a bit early as I had to make my way to Durham Cathedral for the blessing of the banners. It was an especially significant service this year, as the County Durham Women’s Banner was blessed as we celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage.
The service at the cathedral is always so special, and hearing the bands perform inside the cathedral is such a unique and moving experience. This year was no exception, and everyone in the cathedral enjoyed the remarkable atmosphere.
Of course, my thanks must go to Alan, Joe, Ross Forbes, and many other from the Durham Miners’ Association for working so hard to make sure the Miners’ Gala continues to be such a hugely important event in Durham. As well as everyone involved with the DMA, they have once again done an incredible job in organising a very successful Gala. A special thank you must also go to Alan Cummings who, despite having so much to do during the Gala, found time to hand out water to people who had been standing in the heat for hours!
If you want to help support the Miners’ Gala, and ensure it continues in the future, you can find out about become a Friend of the Miners’ Gala by visiting the website www.friendsofdurhamminersgala.org