A MINER who helped celebrate the nationalisation of the pits and went on to fight for his colleagues rights has died at the age of 82.
Stan Pearce, from Columbia, Washington, began working at Glebe Colliery in his home town in 1946 at the age of 14.
As its youngest pitman, he was invited to unveil a plaque announcing the nationalisation of the mine on New Year’s Day the following year as part of ceremonies held across the country.
His colleagues say he never forgot the hardship imposed on his family when his father, a miner at a colliery in Ferryhill until 1926 and a member of the Communist Party, was sacked and victimised following a strike, leading him to strive to help others facing plight.
He became a union delegate when he moved to work at Monkwearmouth Colliery when Glebe closed in 1972 and served on the Area Executive Committee of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), playing a pivotal role when the strikes hit in 1984-85.
After his retirement, following a career as a hewer, he continued to help fellow members, helping them fight injury claims and supported them through tribunals.
The DMA has said while the brutal life as a pitman during an age where physical effort won coal and the day-to-day struggles of colliery life shaped his character, it did not brutalise him.
Away from work he was an avid reader and studied all aspects of working class history in Britain and internationally.
A cultured man, his taste in music was wide, drawing from the folk music of the Durham Coalfield to the Jazz of New Orleans, with live music and comedians to be part of a celebration of his life this week.
He has also been hailed as a committed family man, leaving wife Ethel and children Kevin and Sandra in addition to his grandchildren, and natural storyteller.
Dave Hopper, general secretary of the DMA, said: “He was a life-long activist.
“He was a very well-read man and could debate any number of subjects and was a great raconteur and loved his music.
“He went to Cuba twice with the DMA when we were sending over ambulances across and loved the country and its music.
“We have lost a dear comrade who is irreplaceable.
“Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to the family, friends and comrades of all of these three remarkable men.”
Mr Pearce’s funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11.30am and Sunderland Crematorium, followed by a celebration of his life at the Celtic Club in Station Road, Washington.