Wales

Aberfan 'lost generation' remembered in events 50 years on

Aberfan memorial

Tributes have been paid to the 116 children and 28 adults who died in the Aberfan disaster at events on Saturday.

It will be 50 years on 21 October since a coal waste tip collapsed and submerged a school near Merthyr Tydfil.

Veterans from The King's Own Royal Border Regiment, which helped in rescue operations after the disaster, led a parade to Aberfan's memorial garden.

Schoolchildren from around Wales also performed a rendition of Myfanwy at St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire.

The parade in Aberfan on Saturday was one of a number of events in Merthyr Tydfil county leading up to the anniversary of the disaster on Friday.

It started at 11:00 BST when veterans from a number of regiments involved in the rescue operation left Aberfan Community Leisure Centre and marched to the memorial garden, where they laid a wreath.

For many members of The King's Own Royal Border Regiment, it was their first time back in the village since 1966.

They were able to see how the site of the old school had been transformed into a memorial garden.

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Media captionDavid Baron was just 19 when he took part in the Aberfan rescue operation

In October 1966, the soldiers had returned from weekend leave in Devon and answered a call to travel up, with 700 men stepping forward.

David Baron, a retired staff sergeant who was a 19-year-old private at the time, described the "beautiful scene" as they approached Aberfan.

But then, he said, he saw the "big black line" of coal waste running through the village, adding: "We suddenly realised it was so quiet because there were no kids around playing."

Neil Brennand, who was also a private at the time, said that the regiment helped dig graves and there were "grown men crying".

He added: "It never leaves you. I think about it constantly. It scarred your life permanently."

About 100 people watched the parade, while flowers were also laid by a number of people, including the local mayor.

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Image caption Rescue workers at the scene of the Aberfan disaster the following day

Many tributes have taken place or are planned around the anniversary, with the Welsh football team visiting the village recently.

Another event on Saturday called A Tribute to Aberfan saw schoolchildren from across south Wales perform, led by the Llanelli-based Hywel Girls' Choir and Hywel Boys Singers.

They sang Myfanwy in Welsh costumes, with the song left unfinished and a single red rose left on stage in memory of the lost generation of Aberfan.

The Hywel choir had begun performing worldwide before the disaster.

Conductor John Hywel Williams said: "On numerous concert tours around the world over subsequent years, people would come up to the choir and reference Aberfan.

"The pain of Aberfan in losing a generation in those fateful seconds was felt by a global community."

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