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Mourners pay tribute to the life of Vic Allen

Over 100 attend the funeral Professor Allen, 91

Mourners paid tribute yesterday to Professor Vic Allen's lifetime commitment to national and international struggle yesterday.

More than 100 family members, comrades and colleagues gathered at a country inn in the Yorkshire Dales for the funeral of Professor Allen, who was laid to rest nearby in an ecological burial ground.

The dining room of the Craven Heifer outside Skipton was packed to hear tributes celebrating his life and mourning his death.

Professor Allen died on November 2, aged 91.

He was a communist, academic, working-class intellectual, author, teacher, political organiser and revolutionary.

The funeral was attended by delegates from the South African National Union of Mineworkers, including general secretary Frances Baleni, who was among the speakers.

Professor Allen undertook missions to Africa, including South Africa, to help establish trades unions during the apartheid era.

He organised political education courses in Britain attended by South African miners' leaders travelling clandestinely.

Mr Baleni said: "Back then black South African mineworkers had no names. We had company numbers. We were just a tool. Vic made it possible for us to train in the UK. We were taken to Trafalgar Square where anti-apartheid activists were camping day and night. That made me fully understand the meaning of empathy.

"Vic taught us to make sure we appreciated each other, never to leave anything to chance."

Professor Allen taught former president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Arthur Scargill at Leeds University day schools organised by the NUM for its young activists.

Mr Scargill revealed a successful mission to smuggle £100,000 from Britain to the South African NUM, in batches of £10,000, to help the union organise and another secret mission taking South African miners' leaders to Cuba to meet Fidel Castro.

Paying tribute, the legendary trade union leader said: "Vic was an intellectual giant, a writer without peer."

There were contributions from Professor Allen's family, including his wife Kate Carey, who read some of the messages which have poured into the family home.

She movingly described him as "gentle, both soft and strong, human, dignified, inspirational, warm, loyal, steadfast and utterly dedicated both to causes and to the people he helped."

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