Miners throw party to coincide with Thatcher’s funeral

END OF AN ERA ... Dave Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners Association.
END OF AN ERA ... Dave Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners Association.
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A PARTY was being held today to coincide with the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Easington Social Welfare Centre, the former miners’ welfare hall in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, was set to be the venue for an event involving guest speakers and memorabilia marking the 20th anniversary of the pit closing.

Baroness Margaret Thatcher

Baroness Margaret Thatcher

 But ex-miners have insisted the party had been planned for months to mark the demise of the local pit, and has nothing to do with Baroness Thatcher’s death.

However, celebrations were going on over the road at Easington Colliery Club and Institute, where members of Durham Miners’ Association, including general secretary Dave Hopper – who last week likened Baroness Thatcher to Hitler – said it was all about the controversial Iron Lady.

Mr Hopper, who admitted he cracked open a 20-year-old bottle of malt whiskey when her death was announced last week, said: “It’s about Thatcher,. That’s what I’ll be there for.

“We have got a beautiful banner with a number of verses about Thatcher. It says ‘where there was peace, she brought discomfort, where there was employment, she brought unemployment’.” On Tuesday, 13 women, including ex-miners’ wives, who ran soup kitchens in Easington during the national 1984-85 miners’ strike, got together at the colliery club for drinks to mark the end of the pit.

One of them, Marilyn Johnson, 66, now of South Hetton, said: “I wouldn’t waste my money on having a party for Thatcher. The whole demise of Easington is down to her.”

Marilyn, who had two children to support at the time, said the situation was so dire during the strike that she helped to feed 250 people a day, and 500 in the summer holidays.

Ian Foster, a welfare centre committee member and former pitman, insisted the commemorative event at the welfare centre had been planned for months.