By Jack Parker
The Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) has urged people to not flock to Durham this Saturday (11th July), when this year’s Miners’ Gala was supposed to take place.
The Durham Miners’ Gala is one of the many local events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including April’s Durham Brass Festival, the Bishop Auckland Food Festival, and award-winning outdoor live action spectacular Kynren – An Epic Tale of England.
In place of the traditional Gala events, online celebrations will instead take place, with people being encouraged to enjoy the digital celebrations at home.
In a statement this afternoon, the DMA expressed their concern that people will visit Durham to mark the day regardless, particularly given last weekend’s loosening of coronavirus restrictions and the reopening of many pubs and restaurants.
Alan Mardghum, Secretary of the DMA, said: “We understand that people will be tempted, particularly with the reopening of pubs, to come into Durham with friends as they do each year.
“If people do so in large numbers, it will put pressure on our public service workers at a time they most need our support.
“I ask everyone who loves the Gala to act in the spirit of the day, and to continue to do their bit for our community.”
Rather than celebrating in person, people are encouraged to use social media throughout the day to post messages and their favourite photos from previous Galas, using the hashtag #DurhamMinersGala.
The day will be marked virtually through a series of new online content celebrating the spirit and values of the Gala.
The day’s main attraction is a live online event, which can be streamed on Facebook and YouTube at 1pm BST.
This year’s Miners’ Gala, which would have been the 136th edition, was cancelled in mid-March “to ensure that the 200,000 people who attend the event will not be exposed further to the virus”.
The decision to cancel the Gala, in line with ongoing government guidelines, will have a major impact on the local economy – the event draws around £10 million to the city every year.
The Durham Miners’ Association has already confirmed that the event will return in 2021 to celebrate the Gala’s 150th anniversary.
Mardghum added: “We will do all we can to ensure that it is the biggest and best Gala to date. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Durham in 2021.
“Until then, stay safe, and take care.”
Image: Durham Miners’ Association