Tributes paid to Durham miners' leader Davey Hopper

Davey Hopper at the Stadium of Light at the time of the row over Paolo Di Canio's appointment
Davey Hopper at the Stadium of Light at the time of the row over Paolo Di Canio's appointment

Tributes have been paid to Durham Miners' Association general secretary Davey Hopper, who has died after a heart attack.

His death was confirmed in a statement from Roy Lambeth, chairman of The Durham Mining Museum: "It is with great sadness I have to report the death around 4pm this afternoon 16th July 2016 of General Secretary of The Durham Miners' Association Dave Hopper following a heart attack."

Davey Hopper was not a man to shy away from controversy, demanding the Monkwearmouth Miners’ Banner be taken down from the reception of the Stadium of Light and handed back to members in protest at the decision to appoint Paolo Di Canio as the Black Cats' head coach and more recently announcing Labour MPs who had not backed leader Jeremy Corbyn would not be welcome at the Durham Miners' Gala - including the city's own MP Roberta Blackman-Woods.

But he was a popular and respected figure among the Labour movement, a fact reflected by Jeremy Corbyn's words on Twitter this evening: "Dave Hopper of Durham Miners was a pillar of strength for the working class. A huge loss - he will be greatly missed."

Easington MP Grahame Morris said he had learned from of Mr Hopper's death at home this afternoon from a close family friend .

"My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Davey's family and his many friends in the labour and trade union movement," he said.

"He was a colossus and will be sadly missed. On Saturday, following the speeches, I spent some time in Dave's company at the Durham Miners Gala. He remained absolutely dedicated to the founding principles of the Miners' Union and maintained his unshakeable belief in the importance of the core values of fairness, social justice and solidarity.

"He was, to the end, the driving force that helped to galvanise and maintain support and pride of place for the Durham Big Meeting in the calendar of great working class gatherings.

"It is up to us now to honour his legacy and life's work to defend his values and ensure the Durham Miners Gala continues to be a beacon of hope and an inspiration to future generations."

Other senior Labour figures took to social media to express their condolences.

Deputy leader Tom Watson wrote: "Very sad to hear Davey Hopper has died. My thoughts are with his loved ones," while Shadow John McDonnell said: "Miners' leader Davey Hopper stood in the proud tradition of dedicated, socialist trade unionists.His passing is a sad loss to our movement."