Swansea Valley Miners Appeal Fund tops the £1 million mark
ITS success has taken organisers by surprise, and the generosity of those who contributed has touched the families struck by tragedy.
And now, the fund set up to help the families of four men who died in a Swansea Valley mine has finally topped the £1 million mark - thanks to a final push by the Evening Post's parent company.
Daily Mail & General Trust has made a £20,000 donation to the Swansea Valley Miners Appeal Fund, launched just days after Philip Hill, 44, Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died when water burst into the Gleision drift mine in Cilybebyll on September 15, last year.
The latest contribution — which follows an earlier £5,000 donation from the Evening Post last year — is just one which has come from individuals, companies and other organisations from across the world.
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NUM general secretary for south Wales, Wayne Thomas, and one of the fund's patrons, said: "It is phenomenal that we have reached £1 million.
"When the fund was first set up we thought we would be lucky to get £10,000, but the response has been incredible, from large donations like this, to cheques for a few pounds from senior citizens.
"I think this tragedy really touched a lot of people, especially in this area, where it made people realise that many of their families used to be involved in coal mining.
"There has been a story to be told, but the Evening Post has been very sincere about its coverage.
"The families have been overwhelmed by the response to the fund, and still can't get over it.
"But they would give back every penny to have their loved ones back." Fellow patron Tyrone O'Sullivan added: "We can't do anything to bring back the loved ones that have been lost, but we can do something to help the children.
"There are 12 to look out for, and the money will be used to help them over the next 15 years or so, so they don't miss out if they want to get an education and go through college, or are getting married, or are in need of a bit of help getting their first property."
The fund is due to be wound up on March 1, and patrons are now taking legal advice on how to administer it over the coming years.
Spencer Feeney, editor of the Evening Post, said: "The day the fund was announced, we launched a campaign to encourage our readers to make donations and organise fund-raising events. Their response played a large part in the fund reaching this remarkable milestone.
"At a time when the Press, and British journalism, is under attack as never before, this is a timely reminder of the immense amount of good that can be achieved by a newspaper that is rooted in its community and close to its readers' cares and concerns."