Miners remembered

24 May 2013

IT IS a very simple window, made from Northumberland Celtic glass, but it carries a poignant message: "In loving memory of workers throughout the world who have died through accident, injury, or disease in the course of their work. This is a prayer for a safer workplace."

The window is to be found in the 19th-century St Thomas's, in Stanley Crook, a small village in the heart of what was once the Durham coalfield. It was provided a decade ago by a local woman, Julie Burnip, who used the cash from a settlement she had received after the death of her husband, Paul, from an asbestos-related illness contracted through his job.

A union official of UCATT, Dave Ayres, who had helped her to make her claim, says: "It was an act of true generosity." The church has now become a focal point in the region for International Workers' Memorial Day, and the recent annual service was organised by the Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Jonathan Whalley.

"I wanted it to be a form of remembrance-day service for workers," Mr Whalley said, "and I am endeavouring to develop it into more than just a local event. We are always looking for new ways of reaching out to the community, and this is one that has significance here. This was once a strong mining community, and miners are buried in the churchyard."

The service included an address by Linda Whelan, from Willington, in Co. Durham. She founded the campaigning group Families Against Corporate Killers, after her son, Craig, was killed in 2002 while working as a steeplejack.

A banner made for the miners' lodge at nearby Wooley colliery, which closed in 1949, was also re-dedicated.

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