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Film tells Dirty Thirty story


A film has been made paying tribute to the group of Leicestershire pitmen who stood alone in the county in support of the miners' strike during the 1980s.

The documentary – The Story of the Dirty Thirty – is to be premiered at Phoenix Square, in Midland Street, on Friday.

It tells the story of the few Leicestershire miners who supported the year-long miners' strike of 1984-85, when just 30 miners out of 2,500 in the county's coalfields went on strike in solidarity with colleagues in the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Based on a book written by Ashby author David Bell, which came out in 2009, it has been co-written, co-directed and co-produced by independent film-makers Len Holden and Brian Langtree.

Len, 67, from Market Harborough, said: "It was Brian's idea to make a film about the Dirty Thirty after reading David's book. We got talking and thought it would be a great subject for a film.

"It's got a bit of everything – you've got 30 men who went against the whole of their mining colleagues in Leicestershire.

"I think it's a story of heroism. When the Yorkshire miners, returned to work after the strike, they did so to the sound of brass bands.

"For the Thirty it was different – as well as being defeated, they were isolated and alone."

Brian said: "It's a fantastic story and one worth telling."

The Thirty ended up becoming a cause célèbre for the striking NUM members.

David Bell, 73, said: "They were from pits in Bagworth, Ellistown and Whitwick, and travelled the world, selling badges, mugs and plates, and making speeches to support the other striking miners.

"I was a supporter and helped organise food collections for the families.

"They refused to call themselves heroes but that's what they are to me."

The film includes film footage from the time, old photographs and interviews with four of the Thirty – Mike "Richo'' Richmond, Darren Moore, Mel Elcock and the late Malcolm "Benny'' Pinnegar, the figurehead of the group, who died in April, aged 67, from cancer.

Len said: "We completed the film in about a year and, fortunately, managed to interview Malcolm before his death."

The film also features interviews with other protagonists, including Kay Smith, of the wives support group, railwaymen from Coalville who refused to move coal during the strike, and miners who did not support the strike.

Mel Elcock, 63, of Loughborough, will be among eight of the Thirty attending the premier. He said: "We see the film as a memorial to Benny, and also Keith Mellin, who passed away recently, aged just 54.

"The strike seems a long time ago now but I thing about those days.

"Looking back now, the only thing we lost was money but we won respect and friendship from all over the country and even abroad.

"After the book, then a song being written about us and now this film, it feels like we are being immortalised – we're going to go down in history and it's very humbling."

The film premiere is being staged by the Leicester Trades Council, who organise a reunion for the Thirty and their supporters every year.

It will include an introduction by the filmmakers and will be followed by a performance of the Red Leicester Choir.

The evening starts at 7pm, finishing at 9pm.

Tickets cost £3 and will be available on the door.

Film tells  Dirty Thirty story

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