The day Durham Miners’ Gala fell silent for Bradley Lowery

On a day when more than 200,000 people packed into Durham, they stood silent for one brave boy.

A minute’s silence for courageous Blackhall youngster Bradley Lowery, the six-year-old who lost his fight for life after a long battle with neuroblastoma, was held at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

Blue balloons in memory of Bradley Lowery with the Blackhall banner at the Durham Miners Gala 2017 on Saturday.

Blue balloons in memory of Bradley Lowery with the Blackhall banner at the Durham Miners Gala 2017 on Saturday.

It took place just before the start of the speeches by political figures including Jeremy Corbyn and it was perfectly observed on a packed racecourse.

As it began and ended, young and old alike burst into rapturous applause for Bradley and for his family. In between, you could hear a pin drop.

Union officials who had spent all morning in the vast line of marchers; families who came from former colliery villages all over the North-East; bandsmen and women who had done their bit and put aside their instruments for a breather; they all came together in tearful tribute.

Delegates from Fife in Scotland, from Yorkshire - from all parts of Britain - did the same. As far as the eye could see, they remembered the boy with the sweetest smile and the bravest outlook on life.

Durham Miners Gala 2017

Durham Miners Gala 2017

It was yet another example of the impact the little fighter had on the world.

Elsewhere in Durham, the Blackhall lodge banner marched through Durham adorned with blue balloons in memory of Bradley.

But they were only two examples of the moving moments in a day of Gala tributes to those we have lost.

Speaker after speaker paid tribute to those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Durham Miners Gala 2017

Durham Miners Gala 2017

They also remembered colleagues who had been a staunch part of the Gala’s history including Dave Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, and Dave Guy, president of the Association.

And before then, one of the biggest rounds of applause from the public was when delegates from the Fire Brigades Union proudly marched through Durham to an appreciative audience.

There were others as well. A massive contingency from the NAS/UWT - waving a sea of blue flags - got the public dancing and singing.

And who could forget the appearance of the Trimdon lodge, alongside a band whose members donned multi-coloured glitter wigs as they belted out I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

Durham Miners Gala.

Durham Miners Gala.

There was no respite from the blazing sun but who cared. From the County Hotel right back to the Market Place, there were banners, bands, and an explosion of colour as far as the eye could see.

Of course, there was sadness too. More than one banner was draped in black to signify a death in the lodge area concerned.

And then there were the songs - from the cheery YMCA to the moving miner’s hymn Gresford which always brings a tear to the eye.

From 8am and for more than four hours after, bands and banners marched past an ever-increasing crowd as they headed towards the racecourse. It was more than ten-deep outside the County Hotel where the dignitaries, as always in line with tradition, gathered on the balcony.

And when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared - just as the Hylton lodge banner stopped on the street below - the crowds went wild and burst into song. They gave a similar reception to Gala favourite and regular, Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner.

And by the end of the day, they went home knowing it had been Durham at its absolute finest.