Mining disaster hero and ballroom dancing enthusiast celebrates 100th birthday

100 year old Isaac Storey with his children Brian, Elizabeth, Maureen, Jeanette, and great grandchildren Thomas and Zaine.
100 year old Isaac Storey with his children Brian, Elizabeth, Maureen, Jeanette, and great grandchildren Thomas and Zaine.
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The daughter of a mining disaster hero has credited an enthusiasm for ballroom dancing for his longevity as he marks his 100th birthday.

Centenarian Isaac Storey celebrated his landmark birthday on Thursday, surrounded by family at his home at Bramble Hollows, in Hetton.

Isaac Storey celebrates his 100th birthday.

Isaac Storey celebrates his 100th birthday.

Mr Storey – who is the recipient of a British Empire Medal – was born in The Travellers’ pub in Easington Lane, where his grandmother was the publican, while his father was fighting in the war.

He was 14 years old when he started working at Elemore Colliery in 1931.

Twice-widowed Mr Storey married first wife Nora and they had four children, before she died in 1966, aged just 46.

He took up a job at Houghton training centre in 1952. In 1958, the family moved to Dawdon, where he started work as a training officer at Dawdon Colliery. They later settled in East Herrington.

Dad was a big ballroom dancer – that’s why we think he is still going at his age and is as mobile as he is

Janette Rowland

Mr Storey eventually went on to marry Anne, who passed away last January.

Daughter Janette Rowland, 56, said: “One of the most interesting things about dad is that he spent a lot of his spare time with St John’s Ambulance and safety teams in the collieries.

“He was part of the rescue after the mining disaster in Easington Colliery in 1936 and when there was a big fire at Eppleton Colliery in the 1950s.

“He was part of one of the teams involved in the rescue – it was a big part of his life.”

Isaac Storey circa 1930.

Isaac Storey circa 1930.

Janette, who is a housewife in Shopshire, said her dad won many trophies in first aid competitions, preparing for rescues.

She said: “When there was a disaster in the colliery, they were the first people who went in, there was no fire and rescue services like we have today.”

Mr Storey’s rescue team came to the aid of those caught up in the Easington Colliery disaster, in which 83 were killed after an underground explosion, including two rescue men.

Janette said his team’s leader panicked, pulled of his breathing mask and died.

A barometer presented to Isaac Storey for servcies during the 1936 Easington Colliery disaster.

A barometer presented to Isaac Storey for servcies during the 1936 Easington Colliery disaster.

“Dad had to go in and lead the team and retrieve his body in very difficult circumstances,” She added.

“It was very harrowing going past a lot of bodies of men and horses.”

Mr Storey was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1975 for services to the mining industry and safety, and is an Officer Brother of St John’s Ambulance.

Mr Storey and Nora’s other daughters are 66-year-old Elizabeth Barnby, a retired teacher, living in Coventry, and Maureen Storey, 61, a director of a domestic violence support organisation in Sheffield.

Only son Brian Storey, 70, is a retired mining engineer, living in Morpeth.

Isaac also has 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, with a new one due to be born next week.

100 year old Isaac Storey with his children Brian, Elizabeth, Maureen and Jeanette.

100 year old Isaac Storey with his children Brian, Elizabeth, Maureen and Jeanette.

Janette added: “Dad was a big ballroom dancer – that’s why we think he is still going at his age and is as mobile as he is.

“He would go dancing four nights a week, and held tea dances to raise money for St John’s Ambulance.”