THE first 11 years of my working life I spent in retail until I was made redundant.

I then got a job at Smart and Browns in Spennymoor working in D shop as a guillotine operator.

What a shock, it was dirty, physically demanding and very dangerous, I have the scars to prove it.

However, I was helped to adapt by some truly amazing people, these being ex-miners who had recently lost their jobs due to pit closures.

One nightshift during our break they started to reminisce about their times in the pits and started to talk about working in 18-inch seams which to the uninitiated was unbelievable.

The next night they constructed an 18-inch seam out of pallet boards and proceeded to show us how they had to work on their sides to hue the coal, I was told there were even lower seams.

I worked with these men for a further 11 years until again redundancy took its toll, but I will always remember the help they gave me when I first started, the true friendship during my time working with them and my total admiration for them.

David Brumwell, Crook.