I HAVE met very few truly exceptional people in my life, but one of them was Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington (obituary, The Whitehaven News, January 13).

His presence, natural but kindly authority, wit and charm were a unique combination of qualities in one man. Everyone who had the opportunity to spend time with him must have wished there were more people in the world who had his values and behaviours.

Not that he was remotely a soft character; he was tough and fought hard for his home, his family and those things which were important to him.

His ability to engage with people, using his poetic skills and twinkling eyes, made him a favourite with many, and the visitors to Muncaster who met him always seemed to be enthused by the experience.

Patrick was truly unique and everyone who was lucky enough to have known him will mourn his loss and send their deepest condolences to his family.



Who closed more pits?

Your correspondent Simeon Scott seems to be confusing two entirely separate issues (letters, January 13).

Yes, the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher closed down clapped-out, worked-out, unprofitable pits, many of which were up to 140 years old. British coal came out of the ground at £44 per ton. In the rest of the world it was £30 per ton. Many workers who earned a lot less than the miners paid income tax at 33 per cent to prop up these lame ducks, along with the loss-making railways, car factories, steelworks, airlines etc, so beloved by the Labour party and the unions. As Harold Wilson said, “one man’s subsidy is another man’s price (tax) rise”.

In 1984 the Monopolies and Mergers Commission found that 75 per cent of British pits lost money. Today those workers pay income tax at 20 per cent.

On the second issue, I do agree with Mr Scott that the Woodhouse mine is to be welcomed. It means new jobs and less CO2 in the atmosphere as we will be getting coking coal in this country rather than bringing it from China and Australia. Unlike the old pits, this one has a sound economic case.

Finally, Margaret Thatcher closed 115 pits in her time as Prime Minister. However, Harold Wilson closed 253 when he was Prime Minister. Now then, Mr Scott, tell us which party closed most pits.

Never mind telling our excellent MP Trudy Harrison to look at the history of her party. I suggest Mr Scott needs to take a good look at the history of his!



Future of our food

One of the consequences of the Brexit agreement is that the West Cumbrian fishing industry will not be returning any time soon. The agreement facilitates the perpetuation of the policy of giving our fish to our neighbours to purchase a free trade agreement with people who are themselves of declining economic relevance in the world – something Boris Johnson probably planned from the beginning.

We live in an over-populated island absolutely dependent on food imports with a government who have just given away an important part of our food security – our fish. One of the most destructive parts of the Common Fisheries’ Policy is the way it destroys the relationship between the fishermen and the local community on whom one day we will once again depend for our food.

Our ever-increasing carbon emissions will bring ever-increasing temperatures, drought, crop failure and global food shortages. Also with more acidic and warmer seas we can only hope our fish can be persuaded to live in them – assuming we are allowed to catch them of course.

Our government has studied the consequences of climate change with far too much inadequacy.

The Prime Minister is privileged later in the year to host in Glasgow one of the most important meetings in the history of mankind, a global conference on climate change emissions. Rather than scour the world to find someone who would be qualified for such a task he has given the job of organising it to one of his ministers who has left the cabinet. God help us.



Grateful for the gift of hope

As hospital wards continue to empty our streets, the fragility of life has become an unwelcome guest in conversations everywhere. Corona chatter and lockdown-lament is wearying.

Immunity against traffic wardens has always been on my wish list, but immunity against the Caronavirus is not only desirable, it’s on everyone’s mind, and it’s in sight.

The arrival of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are confidence-restoring steps nobody wants to miss.

We are wonderfully and marvellously made. The biggest player of all is the immune system we were born with which is programmed to destroys every microbe it recognises as foreign before it enters the body.

How amazing is that?

Is it an accident of evolution, or did God put it there in his creative design to help us reach our three score years and ten!

Everyone who ‘gets the jab’ are asked afterwards to sit quietly for 15 minutes to make sure there are no side effects, a rare ‘collective moment’ for all of us to contemplate the meaning of life, or just to give thanks to God and the NHS that we are still here.



Barnardo’s thanks

I WOULD like to take this opportunity to thank every one of your readers who supported Barnardo’s in the North through 2020, a year like no other.

Our shops closed, they asked when they would open, they opened and they returned with their donations and custom. This was a huge boost as all of the proceeds from our shops in any area go towards supporting children and families.

During the run-up to Christmas, again at a time when everyone was and is suffering in some way due to the pandemic, the Northern generosity was amazing, from supplying food parcels to gift tokens and offers of support.

I would like to extend a special thanks to all of our volunteers who have returned to the charity whenever they could. Their support is simply invaluable.

To them and to our staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, a very sincere thank you – and we hope to see you all in 2021.


Director, Barnardo’s North