Fund-raiser Gerald inspires miners memorial window at Harworth

Miners at Harworth will have their life’s work commemorated this week when a stained glass window is installed at All Saints Church.

It is being dedicated at a special service on 28th January by the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Williams.

The inspirational idea for a commemorative miners window came from 82 year old Gerald Holian, who has been a miner all his life.  He had the idea at a memorial service in December 2016 when he read out the names of the 84 miners who had lost their lives since the mine first opened in 1921.

Harworth pit tower was rebuilt in 1989 and demolished in 2016 – and was the tallest building in Nottinghamshire with the largest pit headgear in Europe.

Gerald personally launched the fundraising and single-handedly raised £17,205 in fourteen weeks entirely from the local mining community, with generous donations from Torne Valley, John Pinder Funeral Undertaker, Co-op Funeralcare and Bassetlaw District Council.

He said: “I’m excited, humbled and privileged that this is happening. I wanted a lasting legacy for the miners for as long as the church stands. A pit is not a nice environment but it’s what we made of it.. there’s blood sweat and tears but also humour, laughter and lifelong friendship.”

The window is being installed in the Lady Chapel on Wednesday 24th January with a dedication service on Sunday 28th January at 1.30pm… led by Bishop Paul.

Amongst the dignitaries invited are: the Chair of Harworth & Bircotes Town Council ; Chair and Vice Chair of Bassetlaw District Council and Head teachers of all three schools in the Community,  Church of England, St Patricks and Serlby Park are attending.

Archdeacon David Picken, Chancellor Mark Ockleton and Registrar Amanda Redgate will be representing the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, along with parish council representatives and the miners of the community, who will bring their lamps which will be placed on the altar. Canon Precentor Jacqui Jones from Southwell Minster, has put together the Order Of Service.

Children from The Church of England Academy will sing “Working down a coal mine” by Lee Dorsey during the service, and will also be telling short stories of Harworth Colliery Remembered.  St. Patricks Catholic Church and Serlby Park are also hoping to attend, along with head teachers from the three schools.

The artist who was commissioned to do the work is Graeme Willson from Ilkley, working in partnership with Martin Johnson Workshop in York. Graeme has been working with stained glass for a considerable number of years. He has done paintings for York Minster and other stained glass windows in churches throughout the country.

All Saints has been without a vicar for just over eighteen months. Church Warden Ann Wilson, who is from a mining family, said: “I am sure the community in Harworth and Bircotes will see this as a very fitting tribute to the miners and it will be there for their children and their children’s children. It is a very significant event for our community and church.” Church Warden Les Batty, and the assistant warden Joyce Letherland will also be attending.

Dave Lewis, the last Manager of Harworth pit, will be presenting artist Graeme Willson with a Miners Lamp at the Town Hall, which will be followed by a buffet and music from Harworth Brass Band.

Gerald at All Saints Church.