Easington MP Grahame Morris has paid a heartfelt tribute to the man he followed into Parliament.
John Cummings, who worked at the pit in his home village of Murton before entering politics, died in a Durham care home on Wednesday aged 73 after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
He began to represent his constituency as an MP in 1987, when he was sponsored by National Union of Mineworkers, and had served as a councillor from 1970, becoming chairman of District of Easington Council four years later and its leader in 1979.
His family have told how his interest in politics began as a member of the Young Socialists and was inspired to become more involved after meeting Manny Shinwell, a leading trade unionist, who served as the area’s MP.
Mr Cummings stepped down in 2010, when his agent Mr Morris was selected as Labour’s candidate and successfully ran for election.
Mr Morris said: “John Cummings was a proud colliery mechanic, with a deeply felt affection for the mining communities he represented with tremendous grit and determination in his union, in local government and in Parliament for over half a century.
He was kind and generous to a fault and a good friend and mentor to me personally.Grahame Morris
“He showed great courage at the end having fought all of his life for the oppressed and disadvantaged and against injustice.
“He was an old-school solid trades unionist and Labour loyalist.
“He was kind and generous to a fault and a good friend and mentor to me personally.
“He will be sadly missed by all who knew him, his family and many friends in the mining communities and labour movement whose finest traditions he personified. “
Nick Brown is opposition chief whip and Labour MP for Newcastle East.
He added: “All politics is local and for John Cummings this was more true than for most.
“He represented the area where he grew up and spent his working life before being elected the Easington Member of Parliament in 1987.
“He remained proud of his local connections and his strong association with the mining industry all of his life.
“He was a strong advocate for the community of East Durham, for jobs and economic regeneration. He was especially popular in his constituency and at Westminster.
“We will miss him very much.”
The Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) has also spoken of his dedication, highlighting his role a lodge secretary of Murton Colliery mechanics and his position of trustee of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1986 until 2000.
Secretary Alan Cummings said: “John will be remembered above all else for being someone who was connected to his community. “He was always on hand to deal with complaints or issues for his constituents.”
“Grahame continues to support the DMA, its members, principles and values.”
Funeral details are still to be confirmed.