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Aberfan


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I visited the memorial park there just a couple of months ago.

It brought back vivid memories of the day it happened,  and the news coverage on the radio and television.

The houses of the families who lost their children are just across the road from the park (where the school stood).

A huge tragedy, the result of a horrifying combination of ignorance, incompetence and indifference to the risk to the lives of innocent children posed by an enormous man made mountain, of soaking wet slurry, overshadowing the village infants school.

 

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At primary school, in our mining village, we covered Aberfan and were taught all about it over a couple of weeks. We then did an away day to our nearest local surviving colliery (around 1980, so not many left then!) to see an active bing and just how nasty working pits were.

We then went to to our local country park that started as an environmental scar of seven former collieries turned into a fantastic nature reserve, including making the bings as safe as they could by turning them into artificial hills. That finished with a visit to the local opencast colliery (30 mins walk from school) and a session from their "Environmental manager" (I still remember that title as something exotic from 1980) on how they were restoring nature and safety as they moved on.

The whole point of the learning was that it didn't, and doesn't, have to be this way.

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"When in deadly danger, when beset by doubt; run in little circles, wave your arms and shout"

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Laurie Lee's essay The Village that lost its Children is about Aberfan, and is a very sad read. It is included in his collection I Can't Stay Long.

"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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