The British Empire Medal

By Cheryl Ellerman

I'm the great granddaughter of Peter Roberts who received the British Empire Medal for his services to the mines at Point of Ayr Colliery.

I found out about the medal because a friend of my husband's actually lives in the cottage that my taid used to live in. My husband came across this chap through work and they started chatting.

The cottage is called Dee View and he had started looking into its history and found out that a Peter Roberts (my taid) had received the BEM. He had wanted to know more about it so he could put a plaque on the house. That's how we found out.

The British Empire Medal was in recognition of the service that my taid gave to the mine. He was actually there for 57 years of his 71 years at the time he received his medal. He received the medal on 1 January 1947 when he was 71.

It was honoured in the Prestatyn weekly paper. We're not really sure whether he was invited to London to receive his medal but unfortunately he couldn't go to London because the day before he was honoured, he lost his wife. I'm not sure how she died.

He was awarded the medal at Point of Ayr Colliery on the Sunday morning. I think his brother was in attendance and a chap from the Ministry of Fuel and Power and Mr SJ Young, agent to the colliery. The medal is now at my Aunty Milly's house in Meliden.

From the cuttings in the paper it seems that he was still working at 71. The paper says he was unafraid of danger and that he had skills in timbering, that he was a first rate miner and a gentleman. Personally, as his great granddaughter, it was a revelation to me to see that this man was still working at 71 and that he spent 25 years of his life on the face of the pit. It just shows the continuity and strength of people in them days and how they just had to get on with it.

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