Big Meet is a Labour of love

Robert Rowland.
Robert Rowland.

A DEVOTED former pit worker is set to enjoy his 78th Durham Miner’s Gala.

The Durham Miner’s Gala is an enormous occasion for families across County Durham and for Robert Rowland it is a way of life.

The 82-year-old, from Horden, has attended every Big Meeting since he was aged five and will be there again on Saturday.

Every year thousands of people from across the county descend on Durham City to celebrate the area’s mining heritage.

Bob, who was a face worker at Horden pit for 38 years, said: “It is a fantastic event for me and my family.

“My daughter and son-in-law play in the band so it will be a proud moment for me to see them there.

“People don’t realise how much it means to people in this area and what it takes to put it on in Durham.

“I have so many good memories of the meetings and taking my children and grandchildren is something I will always remember and look back on.

“Going to Durham and having a good day out is something you’re brought up to do.

“When I was younger, it was the way of life to look forward to the Meet because it is something you’re brought up to celebrate.

“I still have the same excitement for the day out as I did when I was younger and still look forward to it.”

Bob says there has been vast changes in the way the event is celebrated now that the pits have closed.

Easington MP Grahame Morris will also be marching as he joins the Horden Miners contingent, banner and band, which leaves at 8am.

He said: “I have been at the Big Meeting since I was a child and it is a terrific gathering of ordinary working class people and their families.

“The event has special significance this year as Labour Leader Ed Miliband will be speaking.

“I look forward to seeing all the young and old faces there.”