A MAN who campaigned for a memorial bench to remember miners buried in a village cemetery has had his wish granted– 25 years after first making the request.

Carter Johnson was delighted when, completely out of the blue, he was told recently that Durham County Council had installed a bench in Esh Winning Cemetery.

The 85-year-old, who lives in a Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association home in Crowgill Court, Esh Winning, had given up hope that it would ever happen but is delighted it has finally has.

He said: “I worked down the mine and lost two of my uncles, as well as my best friend, to mining accidents.

“Esh Winning was a thriving pit village and there are many miners buried in the cemetery but there’s never been an area where people can go to sit and remember them, or other loved ones laid to rest in the cemetery.

“Just over 25 years ago, I wrote letters to various people asking if we could have something like a bench and while everybody commented it was a good idea, nothing actually happened, and I had given up hope that it ever would.“However, recently there was a knock on my door from my local councillor, Jean Taplow, who simply said ‘you’ve got your seat’.

“It was a wonderful feeling to hear that after so many years.”

Mr Johnson has since paid for a plaque to be added to the seat, in memory of his father Carter and dedicated to the miners of Waterhouses and Esh Winning.

It says: ‘In loving memory of my late father Carter Johnson. Miner. This seat is dedicated to the miners of Waterhouses and Esh Winning. Dated 23rd April 2019.’

Mr Johnson, who is chairman of DAMHA’s resident-led scrutiny panel, added: “The plaque captures everything I initially set out to achieve when I asked for a memorial bench. It remembers local miners, which included my father, who worked so hard and in tough conditions to support their families, and who in many cases made the ultimate sacrifice."There’s now a lovely bench in the cemetery where people can sit in quiet contemplation and pay their respects to their friends and loved ones.”

Paul Mullis, DAMHA chief executive, congratulated Mr Johnson on his tireless, but successful, effort to remember an important mining community.

"We’re proud to have residents like him living in our homes," he said.