Ex-miner, 82, inspires memorial window for Harworth pitmen

The work of an 82-year-old fundraiser has inspired a memorial window to honour miners at the former Harworth Colliery.

Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 2:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 2:35 pm
Fundraiser Gerald Holian, who has been the inspiration behind the miners memorial window at the church.

Gerald Holian, who was a pitman all his working life, had the idea for the stained-glass window when, at a memorial service in December 2016, he read out the names of the 84 miners who had lost their lives since the mine first opened in 1921.

He personally launched the fundraising and, singlehandedly, he raised £17,205 in only 14 weeks, mostly from the local mining community.

The window was installed in the lady chapel at All Saints Church in Harworth yesterday (Thursday), and it is to be dedicated at a service on Sunday (1.30 pm) by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Rev Paul Williams.

“I am excited, humbled and privileged that this is happening,” said Gerald. “I wanted a lasting legacy for the miners for as long as the church stands.

“A pit is not a nice environment, but it was what we made it. There were blood, sweat and tears, but also humour laughter and lifelong friendship.”

Among the organisations to make donations for the window were the landscaping suppliers Torne Valley Ltd, of Tickhill, funeral director’s W.E.Pinder and Son, of Bawtry, Co-op Funeralcare and Bassetlaw District Council.

The artist commissioned to do the work was Graeme Willson, from Ilkley, who is responsible for many stained-glass windows in churches across the country.

After Sunday’s dedication service, Graeme will be presented with a miner’s lamp at Harworth and Bircotes Town Hall by Dave Lewis, the last manager of Harworth pit before it closed in 2006.

ALL Saints Church in Harworth has been without a vicar for more than 18 months, but its church warden, Ann Wilson, who is from a mining family, said: “I am sure the community in Harworth and Bircotes will see this window as a very fitting tribute to the miners. This is a very significant event for us.”

Local schoolchildren will sing ‘Working In The Coal Mine’ by Lee Dorsey at the service and will also tell short stories of the former pit. The lamps of former Harworth pitmen will be placed on the altar, and more music will be provided afterwards by Harworth Brass Band.