A fitting send off planned for miners’ union boss Davey Hopper after sudden death

Dave Hopper, general secretary of Durham Miners Association.
Dave Hopper, general secretary of Durham Miners Association.

Up to a thousand mourners are expected to attend the funeral of miners’ union stalwart Davey Hopper.

The details have been confirmed for the humanist service on Friday, July 29, at Redhills, the head quarters for Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), the organisation he helped head as its general secretary.

It is going to be a fitting epitaph for Davey, with all the groups he stood for to come together.

Alan Cummings

Scores of politicians and union chiefs paid tribute to the 73-year-old after he had a heart attack just a week after the 132nd Durham Miners’ Gala, where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn helped attract one of its biggest ever crowds.

It has not yet been confirmed if Mr Corbyn will attend the service, which will be held in the chamber of the Durham building, with a marquee and sound system to be set up to allow as many people as possible to hear the ceremony.

It will be led by Rodney Bickerstaffe, a well known figure in the Labour and trade union movements and a former general secretary of Unison.

Speakers will include Alan Mardghum, who took on the role of lodge secretary of at Wearmouth Colliery from Davey, Geoff Shears of Thompsons solicitors, and Alan Cummings, chairman of the DMA.

Mr Cummings estimated that 1,000 people could attend the funeral, adding: “It is going to be a fitting epitaph for Davey, with all the groups he stood for coming together.

“He had many old and new friends, such as the teaching assistants.

“His death came just after Durham Big Meeting, which he said was the best there had ever been.”

The association has said it hopes future galas’ success will become his legacy.

The service is to start at 9.45am and will see many mining banners put on display, with a brass band to perform the miners’ hymn Gresford.

Davey, who lived in East Boldon, is to be taken in a horse-drawn carriage to Southwick Cemetery, where he will be buried alongside Brenda, his wife who died in the 90s of cancer.

The couple had two sons and two daughters and Davey also leaves two-stepchildren and his wife Maritza.

Davey was elected general secretary of the NUM (Durham Area) in 1985 and led the union through the aftermath of the 1984/85 strike and the final closure of the County Durham Coalfield.