Sunderland pitman 'proud and humbled' as he is confirmed as new leader of Durham Miners' Association

A Sunderland man who helped dig coal from a home town colliery and helped represent his fellow workers has been announced as the new leader of Durham Miners' Association.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 3:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 3:09 pm
Alan Mardghum pictured in Redhills, which is known as the Pitman's Parliament.

Alan Mardghum has said he is “proud and humbled” to begin work as the new president and secretary of the DMA, which was founded in 1869.

The 63-year-old, who was born and still lives in Sunderland, will oversee efforts to secure a successful future for both the Durham Miners’ Gala, and Redhills, Durham Miners’ Hall.

Durham Miners Gala will take place on Saturday, July 13, this year.

The former miner will also continue the DMA’s work to provide advice, support and representation for its members.

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He succeeds former DMA Secretary Alan Cummings, from Easington Colliery, who retired last month on grounds of ill health, and former chairman Joe Whitworth, who is also from the same village and retired from his post earlier this year.

The two posts have been combined in the new role of president secretary, which Mr Mardghum assumed today.

He said: “I am very proud and humbled to have this opportunity to represent Durham’s miners – something very close to my heart.

Alan Cummings and Joe Whitworth have retired from their posts with the DMA.

"The Durham miners made a massive contribution not just to our region but to our country.

"We will continue and strengthen our deep connections with our communities as we work to ensure the Durham miners have a legacy we can all be proud of and which will serve generations to come.”

The DMA has launched The Redhills Appeal, the campaign to secure the future of its historic home, Durham Miners Hall, as a centre for education, heritage, and culture.

It also hosts the Durham Miners’ Gala, which is Europe’s biggest celebration of community and trade union values, and working-class culture. Following the closure of the collieries, the DMA established the Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala to fund the event.

Mr Mardghum worked as a miner at Wearmouth Colliery for 16 years from 1977, and was active in the Wearmouth Lodge of the DMA throughout.

He joined the lodge committee in 1979, before becoming the financial secretary in 1981.

He succeeded Dave Hopper as lodge secretary when Mr Hopper was elected as General Secretary of the DMA in 1985. He has served on the executive committee of the DMA, and as the union’s delegate to national conferences.

Mr Mardghum continued working as a miner at Wearmouth Colliery, the last pit on the Durham coalfield, until it closed in December 1993.

Following redundancy as a miner, he became a welfare benefits advice worker. He then served as a probation services officer for 12 years.

Mr Mardghum added: “We thank Alan and Joe for their service to the DMA and wish them both the very best in their retirement.”

For more information about Redhills project visit www.redhillsdurham.org.