A campaign has been launched to save a ‘vital’ holiday retreat in Winthorpe used by Derbyshire miners recovering from illness since 1939.
Derbyshire Miners’ Convalescent Home is due to close on October 3 because it is ‘no longer fit for purpose’ - according to the charity The Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) which runs it.
However, a 38 Degrees online petition launched by Jeffrey Bird for the attention of ‘all East Midlands MPs’ only needs a handful of the 1,000 signatures required for the decision to be discussed by government.
This week the plea for support for the campaign was shared on the Facebook group Ingoldmells and Chapel Fans.
Mr Bird said: “This campaign means so much to so many people. It is, in our opinion, a travesty that the closure of these homes are allowed to happen. We aim to ask questions on what avenues have been explored to keep the homes open. With support this will make getting the answers everybody who has worked in the coalfields deserves.”
A call for support for the campaign was originally made in the Skegness Standard’s sister paper, the Derbyshire Times.
Steven Kerry, 47, whose dad Clifford worked in the mining industry at Morton and Markham Vale pits, told reporters: “It is a place for ex-miners to go and have a holiday to recover, and do what they want to do.”
Mr Kerry said his dad Clifford, who sadly passed away 12 years ago, would have been distraught at the closure. “My dad was a miner for 45 years in Derbyshire, If he was here he would want to help and fight to keep it open.
According to CISWO, “the home has enjoyed a seafront location in Skegness since 1939 and the home became as much a part of the everyday life of the average Derbyshire miner as any other aspect of the industry”.
Information listed by the Charity Commission, up to December 31, 2017, states that CISWO’s income was £3.7m and spending at £4.6m. Chris Kitchen, of the National Union of Mineworkers, said that while the retreat is still well used, CISWO should be looking to keep it open. He added: “The NUM Yorkshire area has a holiday home in Scalby outside Scarborough which costs the area to keep open, as it runs at a loss, but because it is well used and of benefit to former NUM Yorkshire area members we will continue to keep it open.
“I will shortly write to Nicola Didlock, CEO of CISWO, to express the concern of the NUM to the closure of the Derbyshire Miners’ holiday home and ask what other use CISWO intend to put the funds of the charity to.”
A statement by CEO of CISWO, Nicola Didlock, said: “The decision to close the miners’ retreat has not been made lightly or without extensive consideration by the charity’s board of trustees. However, with reducing numbers of holidaymakers each year, and the increasing costs of retaining the building to meet the needs of the client group, it is felt that closure is sadly necessary.
“We are assessing the needs of former miners who have accessed the retreat who may have issues such as ill health or a disability and will be offering them support through CISWO’s personal welfare service.”
Support for the petition is gathering online. Jean Lesley said: “This is something that should be left open Not many miners left? Well, maybe, but they worked in dangerous and dirty conditions and deserved better than Maggie Thatcher. Yes, we now know that coal can damage and cause climate change, but at that time it wasn’t known. They did a great job for hundreds of years keeping the country warm and keeping industries (also most now gone) working. They deserve better than this.”