Pit strike heroine Betty dies

A working class heroine from Chesterfield who was instrumental in setting up women's support groups for striking miners has died following a four-year battle with Alzeihmers.

Betty Heathfield, a leading activist in the women's movement and co-founder and chairman of Women Against Pit Closures, passed away in Ashcroft Nursing Home, Hady, aged 78.

Former wife of Peter Heathfield, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers during the miners' strike of 1984-5, Betty lived for most of her life in Chesterfield.

During the strike, Betty was an inspirational figure, joining forces with Arthur Scargill's wife Anne to lead a national campaign to help feed and clothe miners' families in every pit village in the country.

Her son Adrian (37), said: "Betty did a lot of things in her life and was an incredibly active, dynamic and charged person and will be much missed by the whole family."

Born on Shaw Street, Whittington Moor, Betty also lived in Hasland and Newbold.

She joined the auxiliary fire service in 1943 and after the war became involved in left-wing politics joining the Young Communist League.

She also organised activities for the regional Keep Fit Association, the Chesterfield Woodcraft Folk and choreographed fashion shows at Chesterfield College. In her later years she also studied politics at Lancaster University.

Betty leaves three sons, a daughter and five grandchildren.

A large number of representatives from the NUM and Labour Party are expected to attend her funeral, which takes place tomorrow at Chesterfield Crematorium, at 10.30am.

Former Chesterfield MP, Tony Benn, will also give a speech during the service.