Gleision widow welcomes national mining memorial
THE Wales National Mining Memorial - a lasting tribute to the victims of Wales' mining disasters - was officially unveiled, along with a Universal Wall of Remembrance, Memorial Garden and a Path of Memory, in Senghenydd yesterday.
Included on the memorial is a record of the Gleision Colliery disaster.
Here Geraint Thomas talks to Mavis Breslin who lost her husband Charles in the incident.
THE widow of one of the four Gleision miners has welcomed the unveiling of a national memorial to all those who lost their lives under ground.
Mavis Breslin is still trying to come to term with losing her husband, Charles, when the small Gleision drift mine, in the Swansea Valley, was flooded with water on September 15, 2011.
David Powell, aged 50, Philip Hill, aged 44, and Garry Jenkins, aged 39, also lost their lives alongside the 62-year-old.
The tragedy caused headlines around the world and shook the close-knit former mining communities littered around south Wales.
Mrs Breslin said: “Every family in this valley has its own recollection of the hardships of mining, that’s why I told Charles I didn’t want him going to work in the mine.
“I can remember another mining disaster in this valley, up in Rhiwfawr. I was still in school and my father was one of the volunteers who went in to try and rescue them. I stood at the pit gates watching it unfold.”
Mrs Breslin was unable to attend yesterday’s unveiling as she is recovering from a nasty fall in which she fractured her jaw.
She said: “When I’m better I will go and visit on my own and take some flowers. I think Charles would have been proud of the memorial.”
Mrs Breslin, who is the main carer for her daughter who has learning difficulties, said that she is still coming to terms with her loss two years on.
She added: “We used to be a team, now it’s just me and my daughter, it is very lonely. without him.”
The memorial has been built on the site of the country’s worst mining disaster.
At 8am on Tuesday, October 14, 1913, a huge explosion rocked the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd. The explosion, and subsequent release of poisonous gas, killed 439 miners, making it the most lethal and tragic mining disaster in British history.
The Aber Valley Heritage Group originally omitted the Gleision disaster from the memorial because, according to legislation, a mining tragedy requires at least five deaths to constitute a disaster.
Project officer Karen Richards said the change of heart had been influenced by the strong media campaign and public demands.
“I’m very grateful to the Evening post, if it wasn’t for them Gleision wouldn’t have been added to the list,” said Mrs Breslin.