Letters. Wednesday, December 19

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Tune in to boost funds for charity

THE National Autistic Society (NAS) has been chosen as one of the beneficiaries of The Classic FM Christmas Appeal, and I am writing to urge readers to tune in this week and help raise vital funds.

 The NAS is the leading UK charity for people with autism, including Asperger syndrome. We provide many people in the local area with information, advice and support.

 We’re incredibly excited about the appeal, especially as it’s our 50th birthday this year. We are proud of the difference we’ve made to the lives of people with autism and their families over the past five decades and extremely grateful for all of the support that local individuals, groups and communities have offered us.

 The star-studded appeal will see listeners bidding to win holidays, raffle prizes and a chance to meet celebrities in live, on-air auctions.

 Money raised will go towards a nationwide fund enabling children with autism to benefit from the power of music, through music therapy equipment and trips to musicals.

 Visit www.classicfm.com/appeal or tune in and help round off an incredible year for the NAS.

Alastair Graham

Director of Fundraising and Marketing at The National Autistic Society

The pit boy’s bait

I STARTED work at Silksworth Colliery in 1945. I was 14 years old.

 For the first nine months I worked on the surface. You started on the screens, these were steel plated conveyors that carried the coal to the wagons.

 Our job was to separate the stones from the coal, the noise was horrendous.

 After nine months I went underground to work at the hutton seam shaft bottom. This was about 1,400 feet below the surface. The conditions there were good. It was very cold but you didn’t need a lamp as the shaft bottom was all lit up.

 After a year spent there I was then sent to a district called the Xcuts. This district was about two miles from the shaft bottom. My job in the Xcuts was as a driver boy.

 When I went underground I would walk along to the stables, which were about half a mile from the shaft bottom, I would collect my pony and then make my way to my district riding on the pony’s back. You had to lie on its back as the tunnels were very low. If you got caught riding a pony you received a fine.

 My first day was one to remember. My job entailed taking coal to a main landing where it was hauled to the shaft bottom by rope, haulage in sets of 50 tubs. I arrived at my place of work, hung my coat on the prop, which were supports to keep the roof up and away I went. After about two hours when things were quiet, I would have my bait.

 I went to my coat pocket for my bait and a mouse jumped out. There was a hole right through the middle of my jam sandwiches. I was devastated.

 The pony ended up getting my bait. When I told the putter, the man who brings the tubs from the coal face, what had happened he said: “A’ll tell ya what ta de son, get a bit of string and hang yer bait from the roof support.”

 Next day I hung my coat off the prop then suspended my bait from the plank keeping the roof up. I started work, things were quiet and I had been talking to the coal hewer, who was sitting on his honkers getting a sandwich. I thought I would have mine.

 I walked out to the landing and when I was about there, in the gloom of my oil lamp, which was not much brighter than a candle, I could not believe what I saw. There was my pony, Rodger, standing in the landing eating my bait.

 I am not going to repeat here what I said. Anyway Rodger got my bait for the second day running.

 Me, I got myself a square oxo tin to keep my bait in. Rodger wasn’t very pleased.

 This is a true tale.

B Rich,

Farringdon

Welfare is priority

DESPITE repeated telephone calls to the RSPCA concerning the neglect of some piglets, their refusal to act promptly has now possibly lead to the death of one piglet. I suggest, therefore, anyone thinking of donating to this charity think twice.

 The RSPCA would not put me through to a higher authority without leaving my details, why they need my details to speak to a higher authority I do not know.

 Surely the welfare of animals should be their priority.

Name and address supplied

Mosque plan fair

WE live in a democracy. In a democracy different opinions are heard.

 Some people have expressed the view that it is a bad idea to have a mosque in Millfield. I live in Millfield and I think it is a good idea.

 Why do I argue that it is right to establish a mosque here: because I support religious freedom.

 It is unfair and insulting to ask that Muslims construct a mosque on the outskirts of the city.

 If there are 10 places of worship for Christians, why should Muslims be refused one?

John Watson,

Granville Street,

Sunderland