Aside

TRIUMPH AND DISASTER


How far back can you remember?

My earliest memory is of 1966, I was 3 years old.

Most people in the UK are aware of the importance of 1966 but not necessarily for the reasons you may think!

For England, 1966 was a sporting triumph, winning the FIFA World Cup, but, to the people of Wales, in particular the people of a small mining village in the heart of the south Wales valleys, 1966 brought disaster of monumental proportions.

On the 21st October 1966 at 9:15am, just when first lessons were about to start in primary schools through-out the Country, a slag-heap above the village of Aberfan, south of Merthyr Tydfil, came crashing down, engulfing the local primary school, a farmhouse and some terraced houses, claiming the lives of 144 people, mainly children, not much older than me.

I recall in, vivid detail, standing outside the front-door with my mother, watching the lorries trundling up the road with their cargo of spoil from the disaster area. There was no talking, no idol chit-chat, just silence, as they made their way to the steelworks where the spoil was to be burnt in the mighty furnaces, no talking, no idol chit-chat just a deep sadness for the loss of 144 souls, 116 of whom were children, all of whom had been engulfed by this very same spoil.

Some 15 years on, I was working for a furniture manufacture and helped deliver a three piece to a home in a village near Aberfan. The home-owner had her elder sister with her, she was suffering from mental illness. The home-owner explained how her sister was a survivor of the Aberfan disaster. She had been buried up to the chest, her cousin, who was with her at the time, lost her life.

A mind damaged and a generation lost.

 

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