Family Pay Tribute To Dead Miner

30 September 2011, 17:58

The family of a miner who died when a roof collapsed in a North Yorkshire pit have spoken of their devastation and loss.

49 year old Gerry Gibson died at Kellingley Colliery on Tuesday after he was trapped in a rock fall.

Another miner, Mr Gibson's friend Phil Sheldon, was rescued during a major emergency operation and suffered minor injuries.

Mr Gibson's death came just a few weeks after the flooding of the Gleision Colliery in South Wales which claimed the lives of four miners.

In a statement released through the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Mr Gibson's wife Brenda and sons Sean and Andrew said:

'We are all truly devastated by Gerry's sudden and tragic death.

'We would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in attempts to rescue Gerry - all work colleagues; Kellingley rescue team; the air ambulance team and all other medics who were on site.

'Their tireless efforts were not in vain, resulting in the successful rescue of the other trapped miner, Phil Sheldon, and everyone involved should take pride and comfort from that outcome. That's what Gerry would have wanted.'

Mr Gibson was originally from Shotts in North Lanarkshire.

Mr Sheldon was rescued by his colleagues after he was trapped by his leg in the incident 800 metres underground.

Nicky Wilson, president of the Scottish NUM and the union's national vice-president, said:

'Gerry was typical of so many miners who learned their trade in Scotland but when the colliery closed had to move elsewhere to earn their living and support their families.

'His death affects all his former colleagues and friends here in Scotland who express their heartfelt sympathy to his family.

'Gerry, a dedicated miner for 32 years, was very proud of his Scottish roots.

'Although residing in Sherburn In Elmet, Yorkshire, since 1989 with his wife Brenda and their two boys, Sean and Andrew, he returned regularly to Scotland to visit his much-loved family and friends in his former hometown of Shotts and to share his passion of following Celtic FC.

'He was regarded as a significant and well-known character in both communities, and the kind words of sympathy and support we have received in reaction to Gerry's death, from both north and south of the border, are testament to that. He will be sorely missed.'

UK Coal said it would publish results of its investigation into the accident as soon as it could.

The company has said initial investigations showed no obvious cause of the roof fall and the firm was, at this stage, 'at a loss' to know why it happened.

UK Coal evacuated 218 workers from the mine last year after methane gas seeped into the area and ignited.

46 year old Ian Cameron died at the colliery after an equipment failure in October 2009. Another miner, Don Cook, died in a rock fall in the pit three years ago.

Kellingley is the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire.

Its two main shafts are almost 800 metres deep. Only one of them is used by miners, the other is used to transport coal.

It supplies local power stations and produces some household coal.

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