A Hush Came Over The Valley
A Hush Came Over The Valley
Wales is often touted as ‘The Land Of Song’ and rightly so. There are few choirs in the world that can match the blood-stirring sound of a Welsh Male Voice Choir, but fifty years ago a hush came over the valley that once cradled the tiny mining village of Aberfan.
I was eleven years old at the time and a young schoolboy in Essex. Nearby Danbury hill rises only a few metres and on solid ground; unlike the shiftng slag heaps that dooomed so many in that tiny Welsh mining village.
I had been to Wales for the first time that summer with a friend and his parents. As tourists we moved from the south coast to North Wales and as a young impressionable child, I fell in love with Wales. It was a love I later shared with my wife and my two (now fully grown) children.
I even went to college in Wales; Coleg Harlech in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. So I have much to thank the nation of Wales and its people. The land has always brought me peace and happiness. If I ever meditate I always picture the wonderful serenity of the North Wales Mountains in their various moods.
So what of Aberfan? Why does it affect me now? I write now because it is only now I can begin to comprehend what happened on that awful day in October. I have just read again about the disaster. Posted on Wales Online it includes the heart-breaking personal accounts of some of the survivors; some of them speaking for the first time, but locked in their minds for all time have been the events of October 21st 1966, , 9.13a.m.. I vaguely remember seeing the news on our black and white television, but my most vivid memory was of a Welsh Male Voice Choir singing on TV as part of the efforts to raise funds for the victims etc. How must they have felt? I don’t recall where in Wales they came from, but my suspicion is it was South Wales and maybe even from the pits that surrounded the village
I watched documentary about the disaster recently. Part of the programme focused on the National Coal Board and the Chairman Lord Robens. I wanted to get angry; cry for justice; scream for vengeance, but what good would that do? Nor could I sooth the tortured minds of those who still remember, still recall that day. No vengeance on Earth could turn back the clock – a clock that stopped ticking at 09.13 on the 21st October 1966. So what good do I do recalling that day? I’ll tell you what! Every time someone or some group dismiss fears and concerns of safety I get angry and I am reminded again of the fatal mistakes dismissing such worries can bring.
I began in the rail industry and many, many disasters brought the safety we have today. Lessons learned have been applied, but for those lost at Aberfan the lessons came too late. May we never forget them.