A MARCH to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Miners' strike is to take place in Benarty in June.

The event is being organised by former miner Andrew 'Watty' Watson, from Ballingry, who was one of the youngest people in Scotland to be arrested and then sacked during the action.

After being detained for an apparent breach of the peace, he was told to plead guilty and was shocked to then be fired by the coal board, one of 206 miners to lose their jobs during the strike in Scotland.

Central Fife Times:

He later was offered his job back and went onto work until 2002 when he was made redundant following severe flooding at Longannet, which saw the mine close and what little was left of the industry effectively grind to a halt.

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Now a train driver, Watty, 58, has organised the march to remember the "courageous struggle" and to celebrate the mining community across Scotland.

Strike veterans, family members and supporters will lead a parade from Ballingry to a rally in Lochore Meadows Country Park, bringing back memories of an event which took place 40 years ago.

"In June 1984 there was a massive rally that took place in the Benarty area. 3,000 miners, their wives, families, paraded. Betty Heathfield was the speaker," he explained.

"Five years later in 1989, we had a parade and a rally which went through the four villages in Benarty. A stone was laid to commemorate the miners, their families and the stone still stands pretty in Lochore Meadows.

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"In 2022, we finally managed to get the miners strike pardon Scotland act 2022. We managed to get pardons for the vast majority of miners who were wrongly arrested and sacked by the British Government and the coal board.

"So with going through all that in the last 12 years, going through what happened to me personally for the last 40 years, I felt it was important to mark it.

"We are getting to the stage that mining is going to be history once my generation disappears – I was one of the youngest involved during the strike so I would like to keep the memories going.

"Anyone can come. It will go from Ballingry. I have secured the Lochgelly Brass Band because the pits and brass bands go together. I also want to get a pipe band and they will maybe slot in somewhere along the way."

Despite receiving a pardon, Watty, with other former miners, is determined to keep fighting to right what happened to him and his colleagues during the strike.

Central Fife Times: Andrew 'Watty' Watson who is organising a march for miners to commemorate the 40h anniversary of the miners' strike. Pic: Andrew 'Watty' Watson by Nicky Bird.Andrew 'Watty' Watson who is organising a march for miners to commemorate the 40h anniversary of the miners' strike. Pic: Andrew 'Watty' Watson by Nicky Bird. (Image: Andrew 'Watty' Watson by Nicky Bird.)


"I was one of the lucky sacked miners because I got my job back – I was only sacked for a year and got my job back but I lost four years of my pension," he added.

"I was the youngest. There were 996 in total in the UK according to what I know and 206 in Scotland. You were three times as likely to get arrested and two times as likely to get sacked in Scotland, hence the review and hence the pardon in 2022.

"The pardon to me means nothing, it is only a pardon. I am still campaigning for compensation for these 206 miners that were sacked, that will never stop."