Monday, 9 April 2012

Malcolm Pinnegar, the leader of The Dirty Thirty

We are sorry to post that Malcolm Pinnegar, the acknowledged leader of The Dirty Thirty, has died, after a long illness. Malcolm (known as Benny) was one fo the key figures in the Five Leaves book, The Dirty Thirty by David Bell. I was unable to make the book launch and only finally met the man when he came along to last year's States of Independence when there was a session on the book. He gave an inspiring speech. Malcolm also spoke briefly at the Leicester Trades Council "Everybody's Reading" Dirty Thirty event a few months ago. I think most people in the room knew that was likely to be his last public appearance because of his illness. It was a great night, with readings from the book, music from Alun Parry, a few words from Malcolm before handing over to the youngest member of the Dirty Thirty, Darren Moore, and Jane Bruton from the Women's Support Group.

The following article is from This is Leicestershire
Tributes have been paid to the leader of The Dirty Thirty – the group of Leicestershire pitmen who stood alone in the county in support of the miners' strike during the 1980s.
Malcolm Pinnegar died on Friday, aged 67, after a two-year battle with cancer.
​Known to friends as Benny, he will be remembered as the figurehead of the group, who went more than a year without wages in 1984-85 during the national strike. They did so in defiance of the other 2,500 National Union of Mineworkers members at Leicestershire's four pits who carried on working through the bitter dispute.
Malcolm, who grew up and lived in Stoney Stanton before moving to Hinckley, was a header – forging tunnels – at Bagworth pit when the strike was called in March, 1984.
Darren Moore, 50, of Burbage, who was an apprentice at the pit and the youngest of the Thirty, said: "Benny took me under his wing and I looked up to him. When we realised we were going to be on our own, he came forward as a natural leader, he had a charisma about him. He kept our spirits up and whenever there was a problem we went to him. Like the rest of us, Benny bitterly opposed Thatcher's pit closure programme and believed it was his duty to stand up for his fellow working man. He was convinced that if we didn't then the industry would be decimated, and he took no pleasure whatsoever in being proved right. He didn't see himself as a hero, just someone doing what was right who wasn't afraid to go against the grain for what he believed. He was a proper, rank and file trade unionist but also a great bloke and family man. I'm going to miss him."
When Malcolm and the others realised picketing Leicestershire collieries would be in vain, they travelled the UK, Europe and even visited America, raising awareness and funds for the striking miners and their cause. Their nickname began as an insult but soon became a badge of honour.
Mick Richmond, 64, of Whitwick, who worked in the South Leicester Colliery, in Ellistown, near Coalville, said: "We spent all those days travelling up and down the country together. I have many wonderful memories of Benny. I feel shattered. He was such a good friend and my heart goes out to his wife, Margaret, and their daughters, Colleen and Claire."
Malcolm featured in two books written by Ashby author David Bell – Leicestershire Heroes, and The Dirty Thirty – Heroes of the Miners Strike.
David, 73, said: "For me he was a hero – a true working class hero – a man of principle who never sold out and someone I was privileged to call my friend."
Malcolm is also immortalised in a song about the Dirty Thirty by Liverpool folk singer Alun Parry, with the lyrics: "So here's to Malcolm Pinnegar, Or Benny to his friends. Who led the Dirty Thirty, 'til the strike came to an end."
Alun said: "I met Malcolm at a get-together in Leicester last year where I sang my song for him and some of the lads. When I mentioned him I gave him a little nod and got a smile back. I saw right away why the others trusted him. He was a man of substance and humanity but also humility, who continues to inspire others. His legacy will live on."

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