Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Keith's a Mine of Information; after a Lifetime Connected with the Mining Industry Retired Keith Jones Has Found a New Job - Teaching Kids about Their Mining Heritage. MIKE KELLY Reports

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Keith's a Mine of Information; after a Lifetime Connected with the Mining Industry Retired Keith Jones Has Found a New Job - Teaching Kids about Their Mining Heritage. MIKE KELLY Reports

Article excerpt

FOR much of the North East coal was the foundation upon which communities were built. Without it, they could not have existed.

Tragically, after the premature nature of the colliery closure scheme undertaken by the Tories under Margaret Thatcher, just how important it was can only be gleaned from the history books and the economic void their decimation has caused.

Amazingly, as Keith Jones has found out, many youngsters in former pit communities cannot even recognise a lump of coal when it is shown to them. For Keith, who spent his working life connected with the mining industry, it has become a bit of a crusade to remind them of their heritage.

His new job happened quite by chance after the granddaughters of the woman he chivalrously describes as his 'lady friend', Shirley, paid a visit to the Woodhorn Colliery Museum in Ashington, Northumberland.

Keith, 73, of Cleadon, South Tyneside, said: "They were so overwhelmed with joy seeing and learning about mining industry. Their grandmother said 'I have a friend called Keith who has done all sorts of jobs with the Coal Board.

"The next day they had to write an essay about the visit and they included me in it.

The next day I had a phone call from the school asking me if I would be prepared to have a talk with the children."

So he went to the Star of the Sea School in Monkseaton, North Tyneside, taking with him a few props including a miners' lamp, safety posters he had been commissioned by the NCB to draw and a lump of coal.

"I asked them what it was and some didn't know. They even asked 'how does it go on fire'. Yet many of the children said my grandfather worked down the mines."

Now Keith has got further talks lined up at school as their seems to have been a resurgence in interest in mining as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike.

At the age of schoolchildren he gives talks to Keith was already doing work connected with the mines. His dad, an official at Boldon Colliery, had to draw up reports for which Keith, always a talented drawer, used to do sketches.

Carrying on the family tradition he started his working life at Boldon. However his life as a pitman was cut short when he was badly hurt in a roof fall. His spinal column was crushed and he was in hospital for months. …

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