TRIBUTE has been paid to a North-East miners’ leader who has lost his long battle against cancer.

David Guy, president of the Durham Miners Association (DMA), died in Newcastle’s RVI  last night (Wednesday July 25)  aged 66.

He was president of the association for 27 years and as compensation secretary helped many miners win thousands of pounds in compensation for problems such as pneumoconiosis and vibration white finger.

He helped save the Durham Miners’ Gala from extinction in the early 1990s and build it into what is now the country’s biggest trade union event.

This year’s Big Meeting, which was the first addressed by a Labour leader since the 1980s, was the first one he had missed during his presidency. The DMA’s general secretary, Dave Hopper, said his colleague’s condition had deteriorated after undergoing surgery.

"He has been ill for nearly five years. He was given only weeks to live, really, but he has done miraculously well and fought all the way.

"He had a new scheme of cancer treatment, experimental, that gave him some quality of life, but over the last period he has had very little quality of life and has really been suffering."

He left school at 15 and worked at Dawdon Colliery where he was NUM lodge treasurer before being elected as an area official in 1985.

He served on the national executive committee, was a representative on the northern TUC, and chairman of the North-East’s Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation Mr Hopper said: "It was a pleasure to work with him all those years. He was committed to the membership and the union.

"We went through very traumatic times and he was also responsible with myself for making the Gala survive, which has been a major achievement.

"In his role as compensation secretary he accomplished a lot over many years."

Former Redcar MP Vera Baird QC, who is Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for the Northumbria police area, nd is an honorary member of the DMA, said he would be badly missed.

She said: "I have known Davy for over 30 years. I met him when I was defending miners during the strike and saw his utter commitment to his members and their families and to the heritage of that proud industry. "Many times he came to court just to give a member confidence that though he faced a criminal charge he was not alone. "Thousands will mourn him and our thoughts are with his family today." Mr Guy, who lived in Seaham . was married and leaves a grown-up daughter and son.

Philip Blakey, secretary of the Durham Mining Communities Banner Association, said: "He was a fantastic man and he will be sorely missed.

"He was a tireless worker for the mining communities and he was always very personable to everyone."

Arrangement for his funeral have yet to be finalised.