'We are privileged to have known her' says miners' union chief as he leads tributes to trade union stalwart Myrtle MacPherson

A miners’ union boss has led tributes to a woman who championed the trade union movement and fought to help her community during the colliery strikes.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 13 June, 2019, 12:03
Myrtle Macpherson with deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, left, and leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, pictured in September 2015 as she accepted her award at the party's annual conference.

Myrtle MacPherson, from Easington, was one of the North East’s longest serving Labour members, with the party recognising her for more than five decades of dedicated service.

Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) has been among those to express their sadness following her death.

It has called her a “stalwart of the labour and trade union movement, and an inspiration to working people across our region and beyond.”

It said among countless contributions during her life, she ensured miners and their families were fed for the duration of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.

DMA secretary Alan Mardghum said: “Myrtle dedicated her life to fight for our communities, and for working people everywhere.

“We are privileged to have known her and to be able to call her our friend.

“Our thoughts are with Heather and John and all the family at this sad time.”

It shared a photo of her celebrating Christmas 1984 in Easington Welfare Hall.

Easington Labour MP Grahame Morris said: “Myrtle MacPherson was a special person whose memory I will always cherish; she influenced me so much.

“A lifelong socialist, an active Labour Party member and determined defender of her community.

“Myrtle’s kindness, decency, and vitality shone through in everything she did and in the way in which she interacted with people and even strangers she came into contact with.

“She will be sadly missed by her family and many friends.”

The People’s Book shop in Durham also added its tribute to her.

It said: “Sorry to say, we’ve sad news to report: the legendary Myrtle MacPherson, staunch activist during the Miners’ Strike and a strong campaigner for her community of Easington, died yesterday - peacefully an surrounded by her family.

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“As in life, she battled to the end.

“Thank you Myrtle.”

Dan Carden, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton and Acting Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, said: “Myrtle Macpherson is someone I will always remember and cherish; she influenced me more than she could know.

“Her kindness, decency, socialist values and human spirit shone through in everything she did and the way in which she interacted with people and the world.”

In September 2015, Labour presented her with a special award in celebration of her efforts.

Then aged 87, she was gifted her certificate by the newly elected leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson at its annual conference in Brighton.

At the time, she said: “I was very proud to get this award.

“I’ve been in the Labour Party 50 years and I didn’t join to get this.

“The national award was fantastic and I was so excited to come to conference.

“It was nice for the national merit award to come to Easington.

“When I went on stage I said to Jeremy and Tom if you come up North don’t forget to give me a ring and I’ll make a pie.”

The party said it presented her with the award for her devotion to her community, highlighting how she helped cook meals five days a week during the strike as part of the Women Against Pit Closures.

It also made special mention of her “world-renowned” pies and how she had spent a year in a caravan outside Seaham’s Vane Tempest, and was part of the delegation who took a petition to Downing Street against the pit closures.

She was also part of a delegation to Cuba to take clothes for miners and their families, and highlighted her following of the Durham Miners’ Gala every year.

As a pensioner she helped others by visiting the housebound and those in hospital, raised money for the Charlie Bear scanner appeal for a local hospital and was a member of the Donnini House residents’ association.