Four mine workers who lost their lives at work in the last year were added to the Jim Comerford Memorial Wall in Cessnock at the weekend.
Ingrid Forshaw, Jamie Mitchell, Phillip Grant and Mark Galton were remembered at the annual memorial day which pays tribute to mineworkers in the region who never made it home.
More than 1800 mine workers have been killed in the Hunter Valley since mining began.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten spoke at the memorial service and greeted the families of Mr Mitchell, Mr Grant and Ms Forshaw and laid a wreath in their memory.
Ingrid Forshaw, 38, died at GlencoreXstrata’s Ravensworth open cut coal mine when the light vehicle she was driving collided with a dump truck on November 30 last year.
Forshaw was the first women added to the list.
Her family remembered her as a “beautiful, fun-loving woman’’, Maitland Mercury reported.
‘‘She was brave and willing to try a lot of things … She liked the camaraderie of the other fellows on the crew and the mateship,” sister Renee Malone said.
Jamie Mitchell, 49, and Phillip Grant,35, lost their lives at Austar coalmine on April 15 after a wall collapse.
“A day like this is very special and it’s such a lovely tribute to the miners,” Grant’s mother, Carmel, said.
“We don’t come from a mining background and everyone involved in this memorial has truly been wonderful.”
Mark Galton, 50, was killed while working at Boggabri coal mine on May 21 after suffering severe crush injuries.
Shorten reached out to family members mourning the death of their loved ones.
‘‘You do not walk alone today and you never will,’’ Shorten said.
‘‘We are mates, we are family.’’
He vowed to fight for mine safety so that no more names were added to the memorial wall.
“Today we vow to go beyond remembrance, we vow to do better and we vow to do more. We vow that the deaths we mourn today are not in vain and we dedicate ourselves to making workplaces safe and healthy.
“We will work everyday to stop more names being added to this wall.”
CFMEU northern district president Peter Jordan said the memorial day was an important event for family, friends and the general public.
“This memorial day service is a solemn reminder of the high-risk nature of coal mining,” Jordan said.
“The passage of time never truly diminishes the grief of those affected by the loss of a loved one.
“An inquiry or an inquest may mark the end of proceedings for some, but for the next of kin it will never be over.”
Image: Maitland Mercury