Doncaster miners in bid for Christmas number one to raise cash for borough's foodbanks

Joe Solo and the Hatfield Brigade are bidding to become Christmas Number One with their single, Merry Christmas from Hatfield Brigade.
Joe Solo and the Hatfield Brigade are bidding to become Christmas Number One with their single, Merry Christmas from Hatfield Brigade.

A Christmas single released by a group of former Doncaster miners in aid of the borough's foodbanks has received the backing of Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Miliband and filmmaker Ken Loach.

The single, Merry Christmas from Hatfield Main, has been recorded by Yorkshire singer/songwriter Joe Solo and the Hatfield Brigade, comprised of former miners from Hatfield Main Colliery and their families.

Since it was released last month the single has sold thousands of downloads, is currently at number 20 in the Amazon singles' chart and has received support from Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband and filmmaker Ken Loach.

Hatfield Main, which featured in the film Brassed Off, was Doncaster's last working colliery and closed last year despite a long campaign to save it. The Christmas single from its former miners currently has odds of 100-1 to top the festive charts.

Mick Lanaghan, who was the third and final generation of men from his family to work at Hatfield Main, says all profits from the single will be given to Doncaster foodbanks as a way of saying thank you for the support he and others received throughout the miners' strike in 1984/85, particularly at Christmas.

"It's the Hatfield mining community that are doing this, but it could really be any mining community in Britain," said Mick, of West Avenue, Stainforth.

The 57-year-old former miner added: "32 years ago we were supported by strangers throughout the miners' strike, so now we're doing our bit for strangers who need some help.

"I don't know how many copies we'll sell or how much we'll raise with this single but every penny will be needed by foodbanks in Doncaster.

"It's a big issue in Doncaster at the moment. There are many homeless people who rely on foodbanks but there are also many people I would call the working poor who might be working part-time or full-time but are still living below the breadline.

"I also think there are a lot of people out there who need the help of foodbanks but would be too proud to use them and we want to send the message that there's nothing to be ashamed of - this is the sad state of society.

"We'll remember the miners' strike until we die, and we'll also always remember the kindness we were shown.

"During the Christmas of the miners' strike the Bradford Engineering Union made sure that not one child of a striking family went without presents, and so it's nice to be able to do something like this at Christmas."

Not only has Mr Corbyn thrown his support behind the single but the Islington North MP also joined Joe Solo and the Hatfield Brigade on stage at the Doncaster Trades' and Labour Club to perform a rendition of the single on Friday during the annual Christmas bash held by train drivers' union, ASLEF.

Mr Lanaghan added: "It was great to have Jeremy on stage with us like that. We really weren't expecting it!"

Mr Miliband, who also backed the campaign to save Hatfield Main, is urging everyone to buy the single.

He said: “It’s a great song and the proceeds will be donated to help families here in Doncaster. I hope everyone in the borough, and beyond, gets behind it – and help to push it as high up the charts as possible.”

It is available to download from all major outlets including Amazon and iTunes.