Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn led the tributes to Durham Miners' Association leader Davey Hopper today,
Mr Hopper, 73, died a fortnight ago at his home in East Boldon, only a week after the pair shared a platform at the Durham Miners' Gala.
Mr Corbyn spoke for more than 10 minutes about his friend at a packed service held at the association's office in Durham today.
He paid tribute to the Durham Miners' Association for carrying on after the last pit closed.
"It would have been very easy at that point for Davey Hopper and many other brilliant, talented people to walk away and do something else but they didn't," he said.
The Labour leader urged mourners to make next year's gala even bigger than this year's success.
He added: "I learned a lot from Davey Hopper - he gave me a lot of helpful advice, he recognised that, when you take on a struggle, you get a lot of pressure.
"When you get a lot of pressure, you can either retreat and run away, or you stand up.
"Davey Hopper never retreated, he never ran away."