DURHAM Cathedral has teamed up with the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the union and the people and communities of the Durham coalfield, past and present.

Lights of the North appeal, launched Tuesday, will enable people to remember and celebrate in light a loved one, a colliery or a community.

Running from September 10, it will culminate at a special Evensong service at the cathedral on November 20 – 150 years to the day that the DMA was founded in 1869.

Donors to the appeal will be invited to join the service at which those being remembered and celebrated will be represented by a lit candle. The names of each person and place will also be included in a special commemorative programme, a copy of which will be given to all donors to the appeal.

The appeal will raise vital funds in support of the work of both organisations by inviting people to donate, with a suggested donation of £15.

Gaye Kirby, head of development at Durham Cathedral, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Durham Miners’ Association to celebrate their 150th anniversary.

“This builds on the strong links already established through the annual Miners' Service on Gala Day and the permanent miners memorial housed in the cathedral.

“We hope that the Lights of the North appeal will be a fitting way to celebrate the great people and communities of the Durham Coalfield, whose values are so intrinsically linked to those of the cathedral.”

The Evensong service will mark 150 years since a group of delegates from across the Durham Coalfield founded the Durham Miners’ Association, on November 20, 1869.

Within 50 years, the union had gained 200,000 members, organised to improve the lives of the people of County Durham, established the Durham Miners’ Gala, and built its magnificent headquarters at Redhills.

Durham Miners Association secretary Alan Mardghum, said: “We are proud that our 150th anniversary and the people of the coalfield will be celebrated in the magnificent setting of Durham Cathedral.

“This will be a moving and powerful way to remember all those who’ve gone before us, and demonstrate that the communities and values they forged over generations of struggle are still alive and still matter. We honour them by carrying the torch into the future.”

More than a quarter of a century after the closure of the last colliery on the Durham Coalfield, the principles of community and camaraderie at the core of the institution remain deeply ingrained in the fabric of the county.

The annual Durham Miners’ Gala has undergone a resurgence in recent years, with more than 200,000 people packing the streets of the city every second Saturday in July. The Miners Festival Service at Durham Cathedral, established in 1897, remains a key part of the Gala, and continues to feature the blessing of new miners banners, funded by coalfield communities.

Proceeds from the Lights of the North appeal will be split equally between the DMA and Durham Cathedral and will enable both organisations to continue to support local communities and share the regions mining heritage with people today and with generations to come.

To find out more and to donate visit https://justgiving.com/campaign/lotn.