Its pouring with rain today. Just as it had been in Aberfan forty seven years ago, although not on the day itself.
This is a deeply personal blog. When the news of the Aberfan disaster reached us in Essex, my family only heard that it was a place with the name beginning with 'Aber'. Like many Welsh ex-pats, my Father's home village began with the prefix 'Aber'*. However the slag tip that moved and engulfed the school, the children and the teachers was at Aberfan, about 25 miles away.
As we sat and watched the tv news, somehow more horrific in black and white although we were watching in real time, as in so many houses across the UK and the world, the tears were pouring down our faces. We knew the area, not that far from 'our' village, but that surely made no difference to the horror and empathy every parent and observer felt. But all those who had lived and played in the shadow [quite literally] of slag tips felt an extra pain.
My father hardly slept that night. And the little sleep he had, was full of nightmares that he was pulling my cousin out of the slag.
There is no need here to replay the causes, the warnings not heeded, the wonderful rescue efforts, the lessons learnt, many web sites detail** all this. They tell of lives affected, not just those left living in the village itself but those like the nearby university students who arrived to try and pull survivors from the wreckage only to find that it was not survivors they were recovering. Many of those students went on to become teachers and replayed those days over and over again.
But we must never forget those children and adults who died. We must never forget the warnings that went unheeded and remember now when health and safety jobs have been amongst the many job cuts recently that we can never be too careful.
May all who died sleep gently and may their families find peace. May we never forget.
* which means the mouth or confluence of a river or small stream. It is usually followed by the name of the river.
Photo above shows the Aberfan memorial garden.