Drawn to SilverWood Books by their beautiful presentation of Poems of the Poppies, I published my first book, a poetry collection, Mining Memories, with them in 2010 to mark the centenary of Cumbria's worst pit disaster in which 136 men and pit boys lost their lives. It was a runner up in the Arts and Literature section of the 2011 Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year Awards.
The book is testimony to the hardship, even exploitation, suffered generally by miners and their families, and the courage, honesty, generosity and respect for others that underpin their own lives. It also expresses the lasting sorrow, guilt and anger that a family tragedy generated, ending my childhood when I was 15.
My cousin William, also 15, had been a pit boy for only 2 months when he fell to his death down a deep pit shaft while I had been lucky enough to get to the grammar school then progress to higher education.
My father, his uncle, pestered the authorities - who'd claimed it was William's 'own fault for larking about' - until they gave 'compensation' in tacit acknowledgement of management culpability.
Mining Memories raised several hundred pounds for the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation. It is out of print now but there are second hand copies available from time to time and also a Kindle version at £1.19.