The funeral of Stan Pearce, a Durham Miner for 44 years and a Militant supporter during the 1970s and 80s, took place yesterday, Wednesday 26th March 2014. Stan died on Saturday 16th March in hospital following a short illness. Steve Black reports on the celebration of the life of a militant and dedicated socialist.
The funeral of Stan Pearce, a Durham Miner for 44 years and a Militant supporter during the 1970s and 80s, took place yesterday, Wednesday 26th March 2014. Stan died on Saturday 16th March in hospital following a short illness.
More than 300 of Stan’s family and comrades were in attendance at what was a truly memorable occasion. There were a number of comrades who had travelled from Essex, Yorkshire and South Wales to pay their respects. The crematorium in Sunderland was bursting at the seams with those had had come to honour Stan’s memory in a humanitarian celebration of his life.
At the crematorium there were a number of miners’ banners, including the two pits that Stan worked at during his life. There was also a miners band, which played the Durham miners’ hymn, Gresford, as mourners filed into the crematorium.
Stan’s grandsons read parts of Shelley’s ‘Mask of Anarchy’. This poem was a favourite of Stan’s and he was thrilled that it had recently been reprinted in the In Defence of Marxism magazine.
Gordon Bell, a close friend of Stan for forty years, and also a supporter of Militant during the 1970s and 80s, gave a passionate tribute to Stan’s contribution, both to the work of the Durham miners and to the struggle for socialist ideas. Stan understood better than many the nature of class society and fought for Marxist ideas. Gordon called on those present to honour Stan’s memory by continuing the fight for socialism. He received loud applause at the end of his tribute.
Dave Hopper, general secretary of Durham Miners’ Association, also paid tribute to Stan’s work, both during the 1984-5 strike and after his retirement, when he continued to work tirelessly for the Durham Miners in helping miners with claims for industrial injuries. Dave also recounted a number of humorous stories from the period of the strike and from Stan’s visits to Cuba with the miners.
Afterwards, many of those present returned to the Celtic Working Mens’ Club in Washington, a place where Stan could be seen quite often. It was a great opportunity to become reacquainted with comrades and former comrades, some of whom hadn’t seen each other for thirty years. There was also an Irish folk band and a socialist comedian to entertain those present.
It was a privilege to know Stan, both as a comrade and as a friend for many years. His funeral was a testament to the respect he enjoyed and to the contribution he made to trade unionism and socialism in the North East of England and further afield.