Strike that divided communities also helped to strengthen them

Fading memories
Fading memories

DAMIAN Edwardson will never forget Christmas 1984.

Despite the best efforts of his parents, the young 10-year-old can still remember the hardships faced by his family.

Damian, who has grown up to become councillor for Shevington with Lower Ground, was just about to start secondary school when his dad Harry Edwardson, a faceworker at the former Bold Colliery together with virtually every one of workmates, was nine months into the bitter miners’ strike.

Coun Edwardson said: “Christmas of 1984 was horrendous. I was just a kid, 10 or 11 at the time, but although mum and dad were very protective and didn’t make a great thing of the strike, both me and my sister knew just how significant the whole thing was. I can remember that if it hadn’t been for the fact that the community pulled together and gave us toys and food and clothes, it would have been absolutely unbearable.

“There is no doubt that without this support it would have broken a lot of people and it has left me with the feeling that it is my duty to remind people about the power of community.”

To mark the 30th milestone of the dispute which divided families in mining communities across the country, Damian and his wife Helena are organising a special evening to mark the anniversary of the strike - with the hope that some of that special spirit forged as thousands were locked out of the pit heads can be rekindled.

Coun Edwardson remembers times of great national turmoil, hardship and emotion, but also a community of working men and women pulling together in a way the country hadn’t seen since the Second World War.

Damian said: “During the strike my sister and I were involved in fund-raising and what have you, but dad kept us out of picketing situations.

“I wanted to do something, not to celebrate the strike, but certainly to commemorate it and a time of industrial struggle when people really pulled together. These are the type of lessons learned that may be, in this time of horrendous austerity, we could do with remembering today.

“It was the first time, as a kid, that I really got to understand that feeling of a sense of community and just how important a thing it was.

“When you are really, really on your uppers, people pulling together like that was such a positive thing.

“Even in Shevington now I feel it, where people will come out and pull out all the stops for somebody in real need so maybe something of the feeling from the miners strike does live on.”

After the closure of Bold, his family moved to North Wales to put the bitterness and upset behind them and make a new start.

His father, who had only ever working in mining and served 20 years at this pit, retrained as a self-employed welder and lives and works there to this day.

The guest speaker at an event at the Soccer Dome in Robin Park on December 19 will be Ian Lavery - former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers who succeeded Arthur Scargill, now MP for Wansbeck in Yorkshire since 2010.

There will be food and an eighties-themed disco with the sounds of the time, and a raffle of pit strike mementos such as framed photos and NUM posters.

Proceeds from the event will go to The Brick homeless charity.

Tickets for the social evening, priced £5, are available from Damian via 0770 7978512 or via the website miners84@outlook.com

Damian added: “We are covering all the costs so everything we raise from ticket sales, raffles and donations will go to The Brick.

“And I think that using the event to help people 30 years on who are suffering is such an appropriate thing to do from it, because many of these people have the same conditions in their life as we had then during those two years - absolutely bugger all.”