Gleision families: We'd give up everything to have relatives back
THE families of four men who died in the Gleision mining tragedy would swap all of the £1 million raised in their memory to have them back, it was said yesterday.
Fund trustee Wayne Thomas said the response to the appeal to help the families had been phenomenal, following the incident in which the miners lost their lives in Cilybebyll almost one year ago.
But he stressed: "Even if £5 million had been raised, each family would give every penny to have their loved ones back."
The final sum raised from the appeal stands at £1,091,667, with just £529 spent on administrative costs, meaning almost all of the entire money raised will go to the families of the four miners who lost their lives — David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39.
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Wayne Thomas, the general secretary of the South Wales branch of the National Union of Miners, said: "The response from the community to the fund, and across the UK, has been phenomenal.
"Four children in these families are under 18, and trust funds have been established for future needs, which are secured for them until they are 21."
Some of the money has already been used to help the families meet the costs of the men's funerals.
The first contributions to the fund were handled by Neath MP Peter Hain's office.
He said: "When we first set up the fund hours after the tragedy, I had no idea it would be so successful. The response from the public has been mind- blowing."
As well as the cash pledges, the Coal Industry Social and Welfare Organisation (CISWO) donated staff and office resources to manage the fund, a solicitors' firm provided free legal advice, and accountants agreed to conduct the statutory audit of the charity for a charge of just 5p.
Fellow trustee Tyrone O'Sullivan added: "I lost my father in an accident at a mine when I was just 17, so I have experienced a loss like theirs.
"This is not a quick fix for the families, but money does help, because it takes away some of the worries. That is what we have done over the last 12 months, tried to ease the burdens. We will make mistakes, because people do, but by working together I hope we will help children and families over the next ten to 15 years."
The bodies of the four men were recovered from the mine on September 16. Post mortems revealed they had died as a result of flooding in the pit.
Archbishop of Wales and fund trustee Dr Barry Morgan, added: "The response has been absolutely tremendous. But on the other hand no amount of money can replace someone lost in such a tragic accident."