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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
The miners' strike 1984: The daughter's story
Donna Kilmurray (nee Evans)
Donna (Evans) Kilmurray was 14 when her father became a flying picket
Donna Kilmurray was 14 and living with her family in Blaenllechau, Rhondda, in south Wales when the 1984-5 miners' strike began.

She remembers a strong community spirit in the midst of a "grim, nasty, vicious time".

My father was a flying picket. We lived in the Rhondda, and he worked at Maerdy colliery.

One day, in the middle of the strike, my dad came home with only one shoe.

The other had slipped off his foot whilst he was picketing in Yorkshire and it had been tossed to the wind by a policeman.

They were his only shoes. He had a cheap pair of trainers to tide him over and he wore them for the next year or so.

Striking miners
Donna's father Mike Evans (right) and colleagues on the picket line at Abercynon pit

We never knew where he would be from one day to the next.

The phone would ring late at night with a coded message, and he would be off with scraps of food or biscuits in the pockets of my grandfather's coat, which he wore in the winter months, to God knows where.

The next time he was sent to the site where he lost his shoe he went searching for it, but he never found it.

I was 14 when my father was on strike. I don't quite know how but I went on a trip to France with a dozen-or-so miners' children.

The council of Ville de Blanc Mesnil [north of Paris] paid for us to be transported and housed with local families and to stay in a holiday camp.

They also gave us a lovely trip to Paris with wonderful food and great hospitality.

Paris
Miners' children on a holiday in Paris provided by a French council
I have the photos from this trip and still keep in touch with the poor woman who chaperoned us from Maerdy to Paris.

The mayor and his assistant came to pick us up in Maerdy and accompanied us to France via West Bromwich, where we enjoyed a tour of the soccer ground and a visit to a Sikh temple, with snacks and tea.

We were all horribly ungrateful for everything, none of us appreciated or understood the enormous kindness of all the people involved in trying to do something nice for us, but I understand now and would like to thank all those people involved.

The miners' strike was a grim, nasty, vicious time that brought out the best and worst in people.

A Blitz mentality was in play as communities dug in their heels and subsisted on corned beef and custard creams.

It was a horrible period for us all in the Rhondda and mining communities all over Britain.

I hated the evil hag who caused it all, with intense passion, and I will forever more.





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