Heavy rain last weekend couldn’t dampen the spirit of unity as hundreds marched in the annual Sir William Wallace Grand Lodge of Free Colliers parade in Redding.
Organisers say over 200 people took part in what is known affectionately as the Pinkie March, as demonstrators collectively link their pinkie fingers in a defiant gesture of freewill for workers.
The walk celebrates the achievements of former miners who secured their freedom as workers from pit owners in the 18th century, as well as remembering the 40 men who died in the Redding Pit Disaster by laying a wreath at the village’s memorial.
This year’s guest speaker was James Anderson CBE, former convener of Central Regional Council, whose rousing speech at the Wallacestone Memorial stressed how the Colliers’ march keeps alive the history of Scotland.
He added: “The Colliers, with their link with Wallace, are helping to keep alive the part that this locality played in the great events of Scottish history.
“Wallace brought the Colliers to Wallacestone, but when we gather at this historic spot we bring him back every year.
“The great events at Stirling Bridge, Falkirk and Wallacestone inspired Burns to write “Scots Wha Hae”, described by Thomas Carlyle as the greatest patriotic poem ever written by pen and sung here every year.”
This year’s event was the 45th time ex-miner Alex Easton (63), from Redding, has taken part.
Lodge Grand Master Willie Allardyce said: “Alex is a very well known character around here and has been a committed member since he was a young man.
“We were the first Colliers lodge ever formed in Scotland and are the last one remaining out of the 65 there once were.
“We were formed long before unions or anything, because they were outlawed at the time, and it’s thanks to the Colliers that people today enjoy freedom in their workplaces.”
The Free Colliers will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013.