2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Award awarded to the late Dave Hopper

Pat Egan, Dave Hopper, Durham, miners, Mother Jones, Cork

Pat Egan from Unite, the Union, Scotland accepts the Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2016 on behalf of the late Dave Hopper and the Durham Miner’s Association. Pat will be forwarding the “Children of Lír” inspired award to the association.

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The Cork Mother Jones Committee has announced that the late Dave Hopper and the Durham Miners’ Association are the recipients of the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.

Mr Hopper was General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association. Tragically, Dave, who was due to arrive in Cork to introduce a film on Orgreave at the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival passed away on Saturday 16th July last and his funeral was held yesterday (Friday).

The Cork Mother Jones Committee have extended our sympathy and solidarity to his family and friends everywhere.

“Dave Hopper attended the past two Mother Jones festivals in Cork and was looking forward to coming again this year. He was a legend in the trade union movement and was instrumental in organising the largest union gathering in Europe at what is known as the Durham Miners’ Gala this year.  It was held on Saturday July 9th and was attended by over 150,000 people,  making it one of the largest crowds to attend there in living memory.”

Stated Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee:

“Mr Hopper loved coming to Shandon, he loved the people of Shandon and made a great contribution to the festivals. In 2015 he delivered (along with Kaiulani Lee) the annual Cork Mother Jones Lecture. He will be sadly missed by the many friends he made in Shandon and is a huge loss to the labour movement. We intend to honour his memory at this year’s festival by an appropriate tribute and we know the Durham Miners Association will carry on his work”

In his recent message at the 2016 Durham Gala, Dave Hopper in his honest and forthright manner stated:

“Britain has voted to leave the European Union and we face uncertain times. After much soul-searching I had decided to vote to remain as I thought that the rights of working people would be better safeguarded within the EU. However, of one thing we can be sure whether in or out the powers that be will try to make the working class pay for the continuing economic crisis.”

Dave Hopper, a fourth generation miner,  had been the General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association since 1985. In spite of the closure of the pits and collieries, not alone had he continued to fight for justice for miners and continued to seek compensation benefits for work related sickness and injuries endured by his colleagues but had led the transformation of the Durham Miners’ Association into a community based organisation. This Association had the organisational resources to showcase working people’s solidarity through the growth of the inspirational Durham Miners’ Gala each July.

the late Dave Hopper

Dave Hopper at Durham Miners’ Gala on 9th July 2016 – with Jeremy Corbyn MP (Photo via Richard Burgon MP’s Facebook page)

Dave Hopper and the Durham Miners’ Association are worthy recipients of the 2016 Award.  The award has been made each year to those who we feel act in the Spirit of Mother Jones and we are satisfied that our selection for 2016 is very true to this spirit.

The Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Award recipients to date have been,

2013, Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts. (Hillsborough Family Support Group,)

2014 Gareth Peirce, solicitor.

2015 Fr. Peter McVerry.

A tribute to Dave Hopper

Dave Hopper

Dave Hopper at Durham Miners’ Gala on 9th July 2016 – with Jeremy Corbyn MP (Photo via Richard Burgon MP’s Facebook page)

On Saturday 9th July Dave Hopper presided over the 132nd Annual Durham Gala which was a triumph for the huge organisational powers of the Durham Miners’ Association. Upwards of 150,000 people attended one of the largest Gala’s in living memory, including thousands of young people to show their support for the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who was introduced to the vast throng by Dave.

A few minutes later Jeremy Corbyn uttered the words which will resonate through the ages………..
“There is no pressure on me. None whatsoever. The real pressure – real pressure – real pressure is when you don’t have enough money to feed your kids…….. when you don’t have a roof over your head……… when you are wondering if you are going to be cared for…………. when you are wondering how you can survive ……….you are wondering how you are going to cope with the debts you’ve incurred……..your wondering if your lovely employer is going to give you a call to give you a couple of hours work or not bother or change their mind when you are on the bus on the way to do that job…………..that is the REAL pressure in society.”
 

Dave was delighted afterwards with Jeremy Corbyn’s speech which summed up for many what the Labour movement stands for and what Dave has stood for and fought for all his life. In a way this speech will now be forever associated with Dave Hopper and it is fitting that it should serve as a rallying call to the thousands of young people present. That will be Dave’s real legacy!

Earlier at the Durham Miners’ Association HQ at Red Hill, Dave was in the chair also when Jeremy Corbyn addressed a packed meeting where he called for unity in Labour.
Dave Hopper attended the 2014 and 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and was making plans to return in 2016 to speak on justice for the Orgreave miners at this years festival. Dave had committed his life to representing miners and the cause of labour and he will be missed in Cork where he made many friends during his visits. He was a real friend to Mother Jones. The Cork Mother Jones Committee offer our sympathy and condolences to his family – to Maritza, Gary and all Dave’s friends and all at the Durham Miners Association.

Sudden death of Dave Hopper, Chair of Durham Miners’ Gala

Davy

DavyHopper

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is shocked to learn this evening of the sudden death earlier today of Dave Hopper, Chair of the Durham Miners’ Gala and a great friend and supporter of our festival.   Dave was due to visit Cork later this month for the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and we were very much looking forward to his as always forthright and intelligent contribution. Just a week ago a member of Cork Mother Jones festival visited Durham for the annual Miners’ Gala and met with Davy who was also looking forward to his trip to Cork.

We are deeply saddened to hear of Davy’s passing.  We are certain that he will be a huge loss to the trade union movement and to the struggle for social justice and decency in his own country and internationally. Davy as truly a man with the determination and spirit of Mother Jones.  Our sympathy to his family and friends.

Davy Hopper

Davy Hopper beside the Daughters of Mother Jones banner at last year’s festival in Cork

Dave Hopper and the Durham Miner’s Gala

 

photo DaveHopper

Dave Hopper

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival is proud to welcome Dave Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, and Secretary of the National Union of Miners (North East Area), which he represents on the National Executive Committee of the NUM.

Dave has been involved all his life in mining, he began as a coal miner before becoming active in the union. He played an active role in the Miners’ Strike in 1984/85 and witnessed the events at Orgreave on 18th June 1984.

He will speak about the impact of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike and explain the significance of the Durham Miners Gala.

The Durham Gala.

The first Gala was held on 12th August 1871 and was organised by the Durham Miners. It is the largest annual organised gathering of workers in Europe. Miners from various National Mineworkers Union branches march behind their lodge or village banners and their colliery brass bands. Over 100, 000 can take part in the event, it has survived the virtual demise of the coal industry and goes from strength to strength.

The focal point is at the County Hotel at Old Elvet in Durham, where various processions of workers converge before heading to the Racecourse for speeches and a festival for all the family.

WAPC Banner Durham 2102

Women Against Pit Closures banner – one of many colourful banners at Durham Miner’s Gala

The Gala is a festive, colourful expression of union, socialist and working class traditions and takes place each year on the second Saturday of July in Durham. The Durham Gala at its core is about the expression of identity of mining communities, its resplendent and unique banners represent and display the heart and soul of the nobility of union membership and social and community solidarity.

Although the mines may be almost silent now and the traditions deemed old fashioned, the proud spirit and history of the mining communities remain and in the Durham Gala are displayed in all their resilient and powerful glory as a beacon of hope and belief in a fairer and equal and just society for all.

Dave Hopper will speak during “Miners Day” at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Thursday 31st July at the Firkin Crane in Shandon.

Visit http://www.durhamminers.org