A share of a pensioner's Christmas ‘Bonus’- a special Christmas exhibition and toy appeal at the National Coal Mining Museum for England

On 12 November the National Coal Mining Museum for England opens a special exhibition; A share of a pensioner's Christmas ‘Bonus', which tells the story of Sam, Gayle, Jayne and Craig, the children of striking miners and how acts of generosity by total strangers made their Christmas celebrations possible in December 1984.

‘We got presents that were donated…. I got a little cheap plastic watch and a coat that my auntie had made, but I just didn’t even care ’cos I was having so much fun.’ – Sam, miner’s daughter aged 15 during the strike.

During the Miners’ Strike, the Conservative government paid pensioners the same £10 Christmas heating bonus they had received since 1972. A nationwide appeal, in several national newspapers, invited pensioners to give up their bonus in support of the striking miners. Hundreds of pounds worth of bonuses were donated to support this cause.

A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ by artist and filmmaker Esther Johnson, and filmmaker and writer Debbie Ballin, bears witness to the untold stories of children of the strike.

The exhibition includes a poetic-audio documentary, photography and artefacts from the collections of the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield, and People’s History Museum, Manchester. Visitors will be able to take away a special edition newspaper produced especially for the exhibition, which includes many unseen archival imagery and stories produced by the artists.

‘A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ is part of a larger research project by Esther Johnson and Debbie Ballin titled Echoes of Protest, investigating the legacy of being involved in significant protest movements from a child’s perspective.

Jayne Ambrose, Education Officer at the Museum said: “This exhibition captures the sense of community and solidarity that bound mining communities together during the Strike, and especially at Christmas. The powerful and moving stories that the exhibition tells prompts us to question how today, we can live by those values of generosity and mutual support. What can we do for others in our communities to make Christmas special this year? The Museum’s toy donation appeal, community Christmas party and family workshop are our pledges of kindness to our local community during the festive season.”

Taking inspiration from the values of generosity and solidarity explored in the exhibition, the Museum is asking visitors to consider donating an extra gift to disadvantaged children across Yorkshire in the run-up to Christmas. For the first time, the Museum is asking for donations of new, unwrapped toys and books for girls and boys aged 6 to 11 years old between November and December 2016. Visitors are encouraged to drop off their donated gifts at the Museum’s shop, within its visitor centre. The gifts will be distributed to disadvantaged children across Yorkshire by Variety, a children’s charity based in Leeds. Variety holds Christmas parties for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, so they too can receive a gift for Christmas. The toy appeal is being run in partnership with Kingston Unity Friendly Society, based in Calder Park, Wakefield, who will also be a toy donation point for donated gifts. The aim of the toy appeal is to recreate the Christmas spirit in growing uncertain times and just like the spirit of ‘A Share of a Pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’, it aims to make Christmas special for everyone.

As well as the toy appeal, the Museum is working with Y5 pupils from Middlestown Primary School to plan and host a community Christmas Children’s party at the Museum on 15 December.

To spread the spirit of generosity throughout the Christmas period, the Museum is also encouraging visitors, volunteers and staff to pledge a Christmas Act of Kindness. These can be posted on-line and will be collected weekly as part of our exhibition blog.

The Museum is also running a FREE family-friendly ‘Christmas Wishes’ workshop on 11 December, (from 1pm-4pm), which will encourage families to explore what Christmas means to them.

For information about the Museum and its Christmas events, visit www.ncm.org.uk or call 01924 848806.

For press information, images and interview requests please contact Laura Barr/ Jessie Leong at Bonner & Hindley: laura@bonnerandhindley.co.uk, Jessie@bonnerandhindley.co.uk 0113 243 4713 ENDS

Editor’s notes

 The Museum is free admission
 Free car and coach parking
 Opening hours: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm daily except for 24-26 December and 1 January
 Café open 10am – 4.30pm daily, opening at 9am 16 – 20 February.
 Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times
 Please arrive early to book onto an underground tour, as at busy periods tours are often fully booked by midday
 Temperature underground is 12C; we strongly recommend warm practical clothing and sensible flat shoes. Unfortunately children under five years old are not permitted on the underground tour
 Indoor play area for children under five
 Disabled facilities include level parking, ramp and disabled toilets with underground tours also available with prior arrangement

For more information please call the Museum on 01924 848806 or email info@ncm.org.uk or visit the website at www.ncm.org.uk

Kingston Unity
Kingston Unity Friendly Society was founded in 1840 and provides a range of savings and investment products for its members. The Wakefield-based Society very proudly sponsors The National Coal Mining Museum's art cart as part of its grassroots initiative Kingston Community which aims to strengthen links between its members and their local communities. For more information about Kingston Unity, visit http://www.kingstonunity.co.uk

Variety is a national charity who believe that all children should have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances and all of our programmes are designed to help less fortunate children to achieve precisely that. We improve those young lives by providing practical help (such as Sunshine Coaches, wheelchairs and specialist equipment) and memorable experiences through our ‘Variety Great Days Out’ programme. This practical help makes an immediate difference and means that children have fewer bad days and more great days. The Yorkshire region of the charity hosts 3 very special Christmas parties every year to benefit very deserving children from across Yorkshire. Every child who attends the party receives a present from Santa, sadly for many of the children it will be the only gift that they receive for Christmas. For more information about Variety, the children’s charity, visit https://www.variety.org.uk/

Echoes of Protest
Echoes of Protest is a collaborative project by Esther Johnson and Debbie Ballin. This multi-disciplinary project investigates the legacy of being involved in significant protest movements from a child's perspective. The project aims to understand the role protest can play in the politicization of children and the long-term impact of its aftermath on their lives. For more information about the project Echoes of Protest, visit the website echoes-of-protest.weebly.com

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