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A Day To Remember Our Miners
A report by Gary Marsh of RCT County Borough Council
and Terry Mann from GTFM who also recorded the audio clips
The sun shone on Clydach Vale as hundreds of people gathered on the hillside to remember those people killed in the five coal-mining disasters in the area between 1900 and 1965.
The annual Clydach Valley Mining Memorial Service has taken place at Cambrian Memorial Park, with a record number of people in attendance.
It was organised by Bill Richards with Cwm Clydach Community Development Trust, supported by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
Among the guests was Rhondda Cynon Taf Deputy Mayor, Cllr Ann Crimmings, Cllr Robert Bevan, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, Leisure and Tourism, and former Wales First Minister, Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan.
Rhodri Morgan with Ann Crimmings
Cllr Crimmings said: “This is an important day to remember all those people who lost their lives in the coal industry. It is difficult for certain generations of people to image how these men went to work each day, down a dark black hole, and many never coming back up to the light ever again, to feel the warm sunshine on their faces.”
The event was a Service of Remembrance for the 75 men, five children and one mother who died during the disasters.
Led by Father Philip Leyshon, a Minute’s Silence will be observed, followed by the tolling of the bells of St Thomas Church.
A roll call of the 1941 and 1965 disaster victims was then read out by Myrddin Ptirchard, a survivor of the 1965 explosion. This was followed by the laying of wreaths, carried out by Cyril Windos, 85, and 100-year-old Trevor Ward.
The song ‘An Ordinary Day, 17th of May’, specially recorded for the occasion by Lesley Caesar, was played. Lesley is the daughter of Johnny Caesar, the man who wrote If I Could See the Rhondda One More Time.
There were also renditions of Moon River, Cwm Rhondda, as well as performances of Take Me Home and My Wales by the Cwm Clydach School Choir.
Barbara Rusz, the eldest daughter of Richard Hucker, who died in the 1965 Cambrian Colliery disaster, aged 32, spoke of the family heartache during the ceremony.
She said: “I was a child when my father was taken from us, but as long as there is a Hucker family member alive, we will always be present at this annual memorial service.”
Click to hear Bill Richards tell GTFM why he organises this event
Click to hear Cllr Ann Crimmings telling GTFM she found the event very moving
Click to hear Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan tell GTFM why he accepted Bill Richards invitation to attend