Cash saves Durham Miners’ Gala for two years

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DURHAM Miners’ Gala has been saved for at least the next two years.

The long-term future of the Big Meeting had been in doubt before Christmas after a failed legal case left its organisers, the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), with a £1.4million bill.

But DMA general secretary Dave Hopper said the ensuing public appeal has produced a “very good” response, meaning the Gala will continue until 2014 at least.

Supporters were invited to become Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala and commit to making regular donations. The Gala dates back nearly 130 years. Each year, tens of thousands of people flock to Durham to see dozens of brass bands march colliery banners through the city to the Racecourse, where the political speeches are delivered.

Mr Hopper said this year’s line-up would include union leaders Bob Crow of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Len McCluskey from Unite, and Frances O’Grady of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), along with left-wing journalists Owen Jones and Kevin Maguire.

But Ed Miliband, who became the first Labour leader to address the Gala in 23 years last summer, will not be attending.

This year’s Gala, which will be held on Saturday, July 13, will be the first since the death of DMA president David Guy, who lost his battle with cancer last summer, aged 66.

The DMA launched its Gala cash appeal after losing a fight to win payouts for former miners suffering from the debilitating osteoarthritis of the knee because of their work in the industry.

To support the appeal, visit durhamminers.org or write to: Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala, PO Box 6, The Miners’ Hall, Durham, DH1 4BB.