Hundreds say farewell to Durham miners' leader Davey Hopper

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among those who paid their respects today at the funeral of Durham miners' leader Davey Hopper.

Friday, 29th July 2016, 6:43 am
Updated Friday, 29th July 2016, 2:24 pm
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives for the funeral of Durham miners' leader Davey Hopper. Pic: PA.

Just three weeks ago, Mr Hopper welcomed Mr Corbyn to the Durham Miners' Gala - one of the biggest in years.

He strongly backed the Labour leader to retain control of his party when the two men shared a platform at the Big Meeting.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives for the funeral of Durham miners' leader Davey Hopper. Pic: PA.

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Just a week later the former pitman died at his home in east Boldon, at the age of 73.

A humanist ceremony was held at the Miners' Hall in Durham city centre, led by Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former general secretary of Unison.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined hundreds of mourners at the funeral of Mr Hopper, who was secretary of the Durham Miners' Association for more than 30 years.

Although coal mining in the county has ended, the association continued to campaign for ex-miners and organises the annual gala - one of Europe's biggest trade union events.

Jeremy Corbyn and Davey Hopper at the Durham Miners' Gala just three weeks ago. Pic: PA.

Banners which are paraded through Durham at the gala were carried to the service and a brass band played the miners' hymn Gresford as the hearse arrived.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said Mr Hopper was wise, humble and a "gentle man" beneath his macho exterior.

He said: "I will miss the chats that we used to have on regular occasions. He was a lovely man and we will miss him."

The service was relayed to people in a large marquee outside the packed Miners' Hall.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives in Durham for the funeral of miners' leader Davey Hopper.

It opened with Bob Marley's Three Little Birds and mourners gave a loud round of applause before speeches started, and again as the cortege left after the service.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives for the funeral of Durham miners' leader Davey Hopper. Pic: PA.
Jeremy Corbyn and Davey Hopper at the Durham Miners' Gala just three weeks ago. Pic: PA.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives in Durham for the funeral of miners' leader Davey Hopper.