Tragic miner’s widow turns 102

Eva Hunt on her 102nd birthday with her daughter Margaret McGann
Eva Hunt on her 102nd birthday with her daughter Margaret McGann

A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER thought to be one of only two surviving widows of victims of a historic pit disaster has celebrated her 102nd birthday.

Eva Hunt’s husband Billy and 80 other miners and two rescuers died during the Easington pit disaster on May 29, 1951.

Eva and William’s daughter Margaret McGann, 66, was just three when the tragedy happened and she said it left her mum “in a daze”.

“It was such a shock,” added Margaret, of Easington, where Eva has lived at the Ashwood Park Residential Home for 10 years.

Eva, whose maiden name is Barker and is the last survivor of 11 siblings, was born in Shincliffe, near Durham City, on January 22, 1912 and went to school in Easington.

She worked in service at a large house in Easington Village before working as a nurse for children with severe epilepsy at Lingfield, Surrey, before returning home to care for her parents.

She married Billy in 1938 and enjoyed 13 years of marriage before the tragedy at the pit.

Margaret put the secret of her mother’s long life down to “hard work”.

She added: “She looked after all her family, she hasn’t had an easy life.

“She never smoked or drank, she has always been healthy and the doctor didn’t even know her.

“It’s in the family – all the girls lived until their 90s.”

Eva was a member of Our Lady RC Church, in Easington Village, for many years and was treasurer of the Easington Royal British Legion Women’s Section for 50 years.

And up until suffering a stroke at 92, Eva was a proud member of the Silver Threads Choir.

She has seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.