Ex-Miners / Pit Men Singers

CAST, DONCASTER

Meirion Lewis

Meirion Lewis

Meirion Lewis was born in 1948 in a small Carmarthenshire town called Kidwelly, South Wales, the son and grandson of Welsh miners, who never new his grandfather, as he was killed underground age 35 before he was born. His father, being then 14 years old and the eldest of three sons, left school to take on his father’s job at the mine to become the family’s breadwinner. Other relatives on both sides of his family were also miners, some of who were members of rescue teams at their respective collieries. His father was of a generation who “never had the opportunity” and thus ensured his son did not follow in his footsteps.

In 1970, he qualified as a Mechanical Engineer following a 5 year student apprenticeship, attending college after work for three nights a week and immediately following qualification, left his place of work in Wales and moved to England, where he has lived ever since. In his late 50’s, he became the Managing Director of a manufacturing company, thus fulfilling his father’s wishes of having made every opportunity he had afforded to him, which his father did not.

Semi-retired, is married to Barbara, has three grandchildren and now lives in Honley, West Yorkshire, where he is currently a member and Chairman of Honley Male Voice Choir.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has always loved singing, but only joined Honley Male Voice Choir in May 2016, shortly after my wife died very suddenly and unexpectedly. His father was a Police Constable with the Huddersfield Borough and later the West Yorkshire Constabulary from Nov 1952 to Nov 1982 and served on the picket lines during the miners strike in the 1970s, although he never wanted to talk about it at the time. He was brought into the Wasteland team by Steven Roberts. Of his experience working on Wasteland, he says, “I consider myself very lucky to have the support of both a new partner, the Wasteland team and the Gary Clarke Company.”

Paul Trow

Paul Trow

Paul Trow started working at Barnburgh Colliery at 17 years old and worked for almost 20 years on the coal face. He is grateful to be involved and part of Wasteland depicting life after the pits were closed.

Richard Wade

Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a former business insurance consultant, fire and accident inspector and mortgage advisor who worked throughout south and West Yorkshire. He’s also a 35 year stalwart of local pantomime, a performer for 20 years with Mixed Harmony, a modern day ‘concert party’ and, for the last six years, an enthusiastic singer in the bass section of Honley Male Voice Choir.

CIVIC, BARNSLEY

Neil Abdy

Neil Abdy

Neil Abdy, who grew up in the mining community of Nottinghamshire and whose father was a miner, was one of the team of volunteers who took part in a special preview at CAST Theatre in Doncaster in 2018. Of his experience working on Wasteland, he says: “Being given the opportunity to be part of this excellent work was unbelievable… everyone made us feel special and the friendship and camaraderie was excellent. I have a new spring in my step. If you have the opportunity to take part, definitely give it a go. It’s one of the best experiences you will ever have working with this wonderful team!”

Garry Leigh

Garry Leigh

Garry Leigh was born in Sheffield and is a divorced father of twin girls and two grandchildren. He left school at 16 and had a number of jobs before becoming an engineer with Post Office Telephones (which later became BT) at age 24. In his thirties he took his A levels and then a HNC at Sheffield Polytechnic. From there, he became a Technical Officer and later a project manager before taking (or more correctly, being pushed into!) early retirement at age 55.

Concurrent with working for BT, Garry was a part-time sailor with the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service and became mate (second in command) of patrol vessels until the service was disbanded in 1994.

He has been a member of male voice and mixed choirs for over 25 years. Within the last five years he has also become a member of amateur dramatic and operatic societies.

Richard Wade

Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a former business insurance consultant, fire and accident inspector and mortgage advisor who worked throughout south and West Yorkshire. He’s also a 35 year stalwart of local pantomime, a performer for 20 years with Mixed Harmony, a modern day ‘concert party’ and, for the last six years, an enthusiastic singer in the bass section of Honley Male Voice Choir.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has always loved singing, but only joined Honley Male Voice Choir in May 2016, shortly after my wife died very suddenly and unexpectedly. His father was a Police Constable with the Huddersfield Borough and later the West Yorkshire Constabulary from Nov 1952 to Nov 1982 and served on the picket lines during the miners strike in the 1970s, although he never wanted to talk about it at the time. He was brought into the Wasteland team by Steven Roberts. Of his experience working on Wasteland, he says, “I consider myself very lucky to have the support of both a new partner, the Wasteland team and the Gary Clarke Company.”

TRAMWAY, GLASGOW

Francis Lopez

Francis Lopez

Francis Lopez wanted to take part in Wasteland because the 1984-85 Miners Strike and the picket lines he stood on made him the person he is today. Good and bad. Of his experience working on Wasteland, he says: “I never wanted to be a miner as I wanted different things from life but I was aware enough to know that if the pits closed it meant that the death-knell would ring for every town and village in Scotland where the hundreds of thousands of people depended on the wages they brought for their very survival.

Sure enough, once the pits closed, the shops soon followed, the pubs closed, the community facilities like libraries and community centres closed and then the people had to leave long family ties and roots to find employment in other places in other countries. The streets left looking like a mouthful of rotten and missing teeth as the houses I had delivered newspapers to as a boy were left abandoned, decaying and vandalised.

Then not soon after, and mass unemployment settled in, heroin arrived and took its effects and corroded good hearts and destroyed the lives of our young men and women who saw no alternative to the mind-numbing emptiness of an enforced idleness. A thing I had only previously associated with big cities like London and New York, yet here it was in my little town.

But just as importantly, the story that Wasteland tells is a warning of the brutal and heartless power of the forces of the state when a sitting Government disgracefully decides that previously good people who fought and died in their wars and cleaned their streets were now the ‘Enemies Within’. The same people who only two years earlier had sacrificed their lives in the Falklands war were now to be attacked defending their way of life by war horses, and massed ranks of armour and truncheons.

And after a day of being kicked, punched beaten on my first day on the picket lines, watching innocent men arrested you were to return home and see the truth warped and twisted by a mass media who were controlled by the Government.

The 1984-85 Miners Strike and Wasteland should also serve as a reminder and as a warning of a lurch to the right in the current political climate in the UK and worldwide. We were the unexpected ‘Enemy Within’ in 1984, you could be so in the very near future.”

Tom Malone

Tom Malone

Tom Malone After graduating from Glasgow School of Art, Tom worked as a Graphic Designer in Education and with a range of clients from the arts and theatre: Scottish Opera, Wildcat, Mayfest, the Third Eye Centre. He was a member for many years of the Strathclyde Theatre Group as an actor, director and designer and recently too with Tricky Hat Production’s The Flames. He sings with two choirs: Voicebeat World Music Community Choir and Voicemale.

George Campbell

George Campbell

George Campbell was born and raised in industrial Clydebank. He is a graduate of University of Glasgow and post-graduate of University of Paisley. He retired after 30 years a freelance photographer and has been a member of Gorbals Community Choir for 6 years and has a decorated political past.

Daniel Welsh

Daniel Welsh

Daniel Welsh grew up in Paisley in the shadow of the Anchor Mills. He watched the decline of the thread industry through the 1970’s and 1980’s. His Grandfather worked in the Coal industry at a distribution depot in Glasgow during 1920’s & 1930’s. He offloaded coal from trains from the Lanarkshire Pits for distribution by horse and cart through Glasgow. As a civil engineer by profession, Daniel has worked at former pits across the central belt of Scotland seeing the derelict sites from the former industry that fed Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Brass Players

CAST, DONCASTER
Anna Spedding – Flugelhorn
Toni Durrant – Euphonium
(from Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band)

THE CIVIC, BARNSLEY
Anna Spedding – Flugelhorn
Toni Durrant
– Euphonium
(from Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band)

TRAMWAY, GLASGOW
Caroline Farren
– Flugelhorn
Alan Douglas – Euphonium
(from Whitburn Band)

NORTHERN STAGE, NEWCASTLE
Fiona Taylor – Flugelhorn
Jamie Beeston – Euphonium
(from NASUWT Riverside Band)

THE PLACE, LONDON
Northern London Brass

GULBENKIAN, CANTERBURY
Anna Spedding – Flugelhorn
Toni Durrant – Euphonium
(from Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band)

NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE
Claire Taylor – Flugelhorn
Simon Willis – Euphonium
(from Grimethorpe Colliery Band)

GRAND THEATRE, BLACKPOOL
Anna Spedding – Flugelhorn
Toni Durrant
– Euphonium
(from Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band)

LAWRENCE BATLEY THEATRE, HUDDERSFIELD
TBA

Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band

Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band

The South Elmsall Village Brass Band can be traced back to humble beginnings in 1884 and in 1905 was adopted by the local Frickley Colliery. During the Band’s long and successful history, it has both competed and triumphed at many of the most prestigious competitions in the world. The band’s most recent achievements include being crowned Yorkshire Champions in 2013 and 2015. This partnered with 3rd place at the prestigious British Open Brass Band Championships in 2011 and being crowned the Champion Band of England and Scotland at the National Championships of Great Britain in 2013. With regular appearances on the BBC’s flagship programme Songs of Praise, the band is currently experiencing one of the most successful periods in their history. This has led to Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band being firmly established as one of the top 10 ranked Brass Bands in the world.
www.carltonmain.co.uk

Whitburn Band

Whitburn Band

The current Scottish, Scottish Open and Grand Shield champion was formed in the heart of West Lothian in 1870 and originally served as an outlet for members of the mining community to perform at local parades. Its first major contesting impact came in 1954 when it became the first Scottish band to secure a National title by winning the 3rd section in London. Progression to the Championship section followed and in 1968 Whitburn won its first Scottish Championship. Following the appointment of Major Peter Parkes in 1978, Whitburn dominated the Scottish brass band scene and became a regular prizewinner in the major contests in England. It made regular broadcasts and performed in many of the finest concert halls in Europe, and – in 1990 – was runner-up at the European Championships. One of the greatest honours in Whitburn’s history was bestowed on the band in 2002 when it was invited to perform in London as part of Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. Whitburn Band has been the Champion Band of Scotland on 19 occasions. Today, the band continues to make a significant contribution to cultural life in Scotland, performing regularly at major events such as Scotland’s international rugby games to a television audience of millions.
www.whitburnband.com

NASUWT Riverside Band

The band was formed in 1877 and is based in the village of Pelton Fell near Chester-Le-Street. Over the years the band has had a number of names, however since 2008 has been sponsored by National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT). As a result of this new sponsorship the Band is now proudly called the NASUWT Riverside Band. Over the last 4 years, the band has been a principal performer at the Durham International Brass Festival including playing a key role in the Miners Hymns performances in Durham Cathedral 2010 and again in 2014 in the Sage Gateshead and London Barbican. Also in 2014 the band were the first band to perform with British Sea Power – an Indie rock band based in Brighton – and performances were held in the Gala Theatre and the Sage Gateshead. The band has proudly played in the National Brass Band Championships at Royal Albert Hall 3 times in the last 6 years.

https://www.facebook.com/NASUWTRiversideBand/

 

North London Brass

North London Brass are the Capital’s traditional brass band Network, comprising of around 100 players and based across four London Boroughs: Enfield, Haringey, Wandsworth and the City of London. They are a community brass band operating across the Greater London area involving people from all walks of life, all parts of the community, all ages, all backgrounds and all experience.

https://www.northlondonbrass.co.uk/