On this day in Yorkshire

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2,500 miners honour their modest doctor

March 19, 1951

It is 14 years since Dr Phillip Crann went to live in the big house which overlooks the slag heaps at Grimethorpe Colliery and began his work of caring for the health of many of the 2,500 miners at the pit and their families. Since then, on more than one occasion, an SOS has sent him hurrying to the pit-head to go down the 725-yard shaft and along the underground roads to the coalface to help a trapped miner. Sometimes it meant working in narrow seams with only the glimmer of a miner’s lamp. But there was never a call for aid that was not quickly answered.

The miners admire him for it. He has made two descents during the past few months and after those the miners decided to commemorate the doctor’s work. On Saturday, representatives of men and management gathered in the best room of the local institute and in a homely little ceremony they presented to the doctor a silver salver.

“We do not want this to get out perspective,” said the area general manager, Mr Alex Scott. “It is not the idea that something heroic has been done: it is our tribute to a really good neighbour.”

Dr Crann made light of his actions and said that the reward should have gone to the rescue workers who always worked hard and of whom Grimethorpe could be justly proud.

“I accept this, not as a tribute to myself, but to the many first-aid workers, nurses, and doctors who find themselves doing their job unusual places,” he said.

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