THE family of a Weardale man killed in a tragic mining accident have been reunited with his memorial football trophy after lodging an appeal in The Northern Echo.

John “Malcolm” Lowe, 24, died after an accident at Redburn Mine, in Rookhope, in 1974.

The keen footballer played for both Rookhope and Wolsingham Welfare in the Crook and District League as well as the Blanchland ‘A’ team in the Hexham and District League.

He left behind his wife, Pat, and son John “Paul” Lowe, while Mrs Lowe was so overcome with grief that she did not realise she was also carrying their second child, Kathryn, at the time of his death.

Kathryn was born in 1975 and the family moved to Stanhope where Mrs Lowe had two Malcolm Lowe Memorial Trophies made which she said were to be played for by the local teams to keep her husband’s memory alive.

However, despite one being displayed in the Blanchard Sports Club, the other vanished, with the family last seeing it when they presented it to the Stanhope team in 1995.

Now married, the daughter he never knew of, Mrs Lowe-Oliver, put an appeal into the Echo to trace the trophy in the hope of being reunited with it.

But it was not until January that Clement O’Donovan, chairman of the Stanhope Football Club, managed to track it down after mentioning it at a club meeting.

“When we won it, it was the last year they had a district league so we had to hand the cup back in and because there was not another tournament the secretary archived it in his attic,” he said.

And after almost giving up hope, Mr O’Donovan managed to track the trophy down which had been transported from attic to attic over the years.

Mr O’Donovan added: “It’s a family heirloom so it’s great that something that was produced for a really good reason has been resurrected and will now go on to be used for the purpose it was originally intended for.”

The family were reunited with the trophy at the Stanhope Sports and Social Club, on Saturday (April 25).

It will now be played for by the three local teams, Wearhead, Stanhope and Wolsingham, so it is kept in the dale.

Mrs Oliver-Lowe, 39, said: “I cannot believe it’s here – I thought it had gone thinking it had been scrapped so when Clement said he’s found it I was gobsmacked.

“I felt like it was coming home and they are calling it a special hand-over so it comes back to us but it will be used again.”