Eve of Gala fundraising appeal

On the eve of the 137th Durham Miners Gala, organisers have launched a fundraising appeal to help meet rising costs.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to pack the streets of Durham tomorrow (Saturday 8 July 2023) for an event hosted by the Durham Miners Association (DMA) since 1871.

The Gala returned last year after two cancellations due to the Covid 19 pandemic. It was the biggest ‘Big Meeting’ in decades.  A generation on from the colliery closures, more than 60 Durham miners banners and more than 50 brass bands participated.

Costs to ensure the safe running of the event are rising and organisers are appealing to everyone who values the Gala, which is free to all who attend, to chip in.

For more than a century, the Gala was funded by the county’s working miners through their subscriptions to their trade union, the Durham Miners Association (DMA).

Following the closure of the collieries, the DMA worked in solidarity with the trades unions to create the Friends of Durham Miners Gala (FODMG). Today, the Gala is funded by the donation and subscription through FODMG. Those who contribute are known as ‘Marras’ – a Durham miners’ term for a trusted friend who can be relied on in times of need.

FODMG chair Dave Anderson, a Durham miner who became the MP for Blaydon, said:

“The Big Meeting returned in style last year. It is clear that the people of the region love this event and are turning out in bigger numbers each year.

“The Gala is at the heart of the culture and identity of the North East and it has a unique and inspiring place in the labour and trade union movement. It is also worth a fortune to the economy of the city and the region.

“Our costs are soaring and we need to build support now. I urge everyone who values the Gala to chip in by joining our band of Marras. Together we’ll ensure the Gala continues in 2024 and beyond.”

People attending the Gala can also support the event by visiting the Gala shop on the Racecourse where official Gala t shirts, tote bags, enamel badges and posters will be on sale. Every penny will go to fund the Big Meeting. You can also shop online here.

To join the Marras, or for more information, please click here.