My Origins - and Involvement
In 1962 I qualified as a Naturopath (Nature Cure consultant) and Osteopath. I came onto this line of therapy as a result of my own failing health as a teenager and got myself better. Since those days I’ve managed to overcome various physical maladies mostly by natural means. The grief I’ve experienced associated with Aberfan, is proving to be a lifelong lesson however.
I went to Aberfan soon after the disaster to see what I could do to help. What I didn’t expect was that people would be so welcoming – they often treated me like a long lost son. With these people, friendship is instant – no defensive barrier to overcome, as is often found in London & the South East.
I don’t come from a close family, and this ‘family feeling’ fulfilled in me a need which I had not previously been aware of. So I kind of got locked into their grief situation. I’ve shared in the sorrows and the joys – mostly the former, a burden which is ongoing.
I’ve learned a great deal about how to cope. I have become a 2-people person. When memories of Aberfan surface, the tears often flow. Afterwards, I try to put on my ‘other hat’ and get on with dealing with the present, and try to build for the future.
There is a British television programme called Yesterday. It used to carry the caption - Where the past is always present. That sums up the memories of Aberfan for me - the past is always present.
I’ve had a DVD published – Share Your Sorrow with Me, available through the Amazon website. See www.shareyoursorrow.co.uk and
Today, Aberfan seems to have recovered well physically, but of course it’s the emotional scars which remain with those who remember. One lady commented that “Aberfan has not moved on since that dreadful day and until the survivors are no longer here it is not going to”. She pointed out that no-one has actually made an apology.
With the Thalidomide story, it took 50 years before an apology was made (September 2012). The people of Aberfan still have to wait. There were serious concerns about Thalidomide before it was distributed, but these were hushed up – reference the book Thalidomide and the Power of the Drug Companies, by Henning Sjöström and Robert Nilsson.
Then there’s the more recent news about the Hillsborough disaster which occurred at a football stadium in Sheffield, UK, on 15 April 1989. 96 people died. It’s taken 23 years for the victims to be exonerated (September 2012). The blame rests with the authorities – lack of planning, crowd control, and the emergency services.
On 6 November 2012 an article by Darren Devine was published in Wales Online, illustrating the similarities of the cover-ups about the Aberfan and Hillsborough tragedies. See – www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/11/06/hillsborough-cover-up-mirors-shabby-attempt-to-conceal-aberfan-truth-academic-91466-32172844/
The Hillsborough incident shows that history can repeat itself. At Ibrox, a football stadium in Glasgow, Scotland, a total of 68 people died in crush incidents in 1961 and 1971. Authorities had not sufficiently learned about the importance of crowd control to prevent the disaster at Hillsborough.
Could a waste tip kill people in the UK again? The answer is yes - if the authorities are not sufficiently vigilant, and the public are too trusting.
"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana
If and when the UK needs to become more self-dependent, mining industries may become active again. More efficient technology is available now.
Why does it take so long for authorities to admit their mistakes? I would suggest conscience has a part to play, persuaded by public opinion of course ! There’s no long-term escape from conscience, but sometimes it does need a wake-up call !