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Ida Hackett

Born at the end of 1914 as Ida Chrichlow, her father (her mother’s maiden name was Crooks) was victim­ised at the Warsop Maine col­liery in the 1921 strike and was only next able to get a job four years later at Bentley col­liery. As an 11-year-old during the 1926 strike, she remembered how families had to survive on soup made from bones from butchers and vegetables from their allotments. She later recalled: "We didn't have soup kitchens. There were real food kitchens in village halls and schools."

Left: Ida pictured around 1970

Thus, she began a long history, over the rest of the 20thcentury, of association with the miners, their families, their problems, struggles and hopes, in particular to the fight to defeat the scab unionism which took root in Nottinghamshire after the General Strike of 1926.

Along with Communist min­ers Jock and Mick Kane she took an active part in raising collections of food and money for the miners of Harworth col­liery who went on strike against Herbert Spencer's bosses union.

Ida's working life began in 1931 with the Co-op. This was to lead her into a lifelong commitment to trade unionism which won the confi­dence of her fellow workers, who entrusted her with many positions in the movement, both locally and nationally. It was when she was elected to the Mansfield May Day Com­mittee that she met and married Ernest in the summer of 1939, in Mansfield. (Ernest Stevenson Hackett, born in Mansfield in June 1915 to a mother with the maiden name of Cantrill).

They became a team, their contribution to the working-class movement and the Communist Party, which Ida joined in 1938, being highly rated. Ida was a Mansfield candidate for the Communist Party, both in municipal and in general elections and, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, a member of the Party’s Executive Committee. Both she and Ernest played a significant role within the East Midlands District of the Communist Party and they were married for some 50 years until Ernest died in early 1985.

Then just entering her 70thdecade, Ida emerged as a key figure in the 1984/85 miners' national strike, which presented special problems in Nottinghamshire. Most of the miners stayed at work and the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers was formed in the area. Her knowledge and experi­ence enabled her to help miners' wives set up women's support groups across the coalfield. They were a novel development involving wives directly in struggle, and their activities sustained the resistance for a year.

Each of the 27 pits in areas including Annesley, Calverton, Bilsthorpe and Gedling, had its own group of women supporters, who had weekly meetings to exchange information through Notts Women Against Pit Closures, chaired by Ida. Within six weeks of the Notts group setting up, a national committee was established..

She was the first woman to go outside of the county to speak at meetings and appeal for sup­port for the miners, staying for over a week in London at the outset and then travelling all over the country for the rest of the year of struggle.

Such was her contribution that she was given the task of co-ordinating the work of all the support groups in the coalfield, a task she fulfilled with distinc­tion. An example of the co-operation achieved was the weekly deliveries by the North London district committee of the Union of Com­munication Workers during the strike of some £1,500 worth of groceries and vegetables to Nottinghamshire

When she wrote to the Morning Star, she was invited to London to build up a network of support there. Soon letters began arriving from well-wishers around the country with around £4,000 a week pouring in. Offers of help poured in from around the world. A cargo of food came from the Soviet Union but one of the most touching gestures was a bag of nuts that arrived in the post from a peasant woman in India. Ida recalled: "I just cried. It is emotional, I don't care who hears me say it."

Ernest played his part at home, having by now had two strokes and three heart attacks. But he maintained a disciplined answering service for Women Against Pit Closures and wrote the thank you letters and answered queries. The couple celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on July 8, 1984, the same day as a huge Food for Victory event at The Forest recreation ground in Nottingham. Over 9,000 people attended and a presentation was made to the pair of Hacketts of a miner's lamp and a bouquet. Ernest, who himself had been a member of the East Midlands District Committee of the Communist Party, died shortly after the strike ended.

She was a key figure within the East Midlands District of the Communist Party in opposing the revisionist enterprise during the 1970s and 1980s and an early supporter of the refounded Communist Party from 1988. At the age of 74, the Notting­hamshire area of the National Union of Mineworkers made her its first honorary member at its annual gala in 1988.  Ida always said that the accolade was dedicated to every woman involved in the fight. Her ready answer to any notion that said that a good woman was behind every striking miner was to insist that women from the mining areas were always either at the side of the men or in front of them!

Ida remained involved in the campaign to reinstate the 14 or so sacked miners in Notts and in helping their dependent families and later became a doughty fighter in the campaign for justice for pensioners. Despite her advanced age, Ida was very alert, keenly aware of the Communist Party’s, work and active as much as possible in retirement in Mansfield until her death in 2012.

Sources: Morning Star 14thSeptember 1988; GS personal knowledge