Welsh mine tragedy: Family tributes for mine victims

The families thanked the rescue teams and the community for their overwhelming support

Tributes have been paid by the families of the four men who were killed in the Swansea Valley mining tragedy.

The bodies recovered on Friday were identified as Charles Breslin, Phillip Hill, Garry Jenkins and David Powell.

The families thanked the community for their support and messages following the tragedy.

Three miners had managed to escape as flood water engulfed the mine's shaft when a retaining wall holding back a body of water underground failed.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigation what caused flooding at Gleision Colliery.

Here are the family statements in full.

Charles Breslin, 62, from Swansea Valley

Charles Breslin Charles Breslin had been a coal miner for most of his working life

"The terrible accident on Thursday which robbed Charles of his life has left the whole of his family without a husband, father and brother.

"The many hours of waiting, with increasingly dwindling hope, at the community centre in Rhos alongside the families of the other trapped miners were the most harrowing of our lives.

"The dedication and commitment from the emergency services were very much appreciated by all concerned.

"No one could have done more as they bravely raced against the clock and put their own lives in danger. Their bravery should be rewarded.

"The whole family appreciate the many messages of condolences from the people who knew Charles, as well as from many sympathisers who had not known him but had we felt shared in our long vigil during rescue efforts.

"The support and generous donations of food and other practicalities from various sources in the community that were brought to the Rhos community centre also showed the scale of anxiety for the safety of the miners by so many people in the local community.

"Charles was a hard working family man and a good father to his daughter Cheryl Ann. He was popular and sociable, with never a bad word to say about anyone.

"He recently celebrated 40 years of marriage to his wife Mavis. He was also very close to his brothers John, Phillip and Terrance and sister Pat who also shared the long, harrowing wait whilst supporting each other.

Charles or Charlie to his friends had been active in the community his whole life.

"He was vice-chairman of the Ystalyfera Royal British Legion, been a member of TA's, went fishing when time and Mavis allowed and he also played bowls for the Ystalyfera bowling club and recently at Cwmllynfell, to where he had just moved, having recently completed building his dream home.

"He had been a coal miner for most of his working life, a job which his father had done before him, and had worked at most of the small mines in the area during his life.

"Charlie, you will be sadly missed by all who knew you."

Philip Hill, 44, from Neath

Philip Hill Philip Hill's family said they had "endured much tragedy" in the last 10 months

"The family of Philip Hill wish to express their heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all friends and the communities of Rhos, Pontardawe and Resolven for their continued support following the loss of his life at Gleision Colliery.

"The family in particular wish to take the opportunity to thank the Mines Rescue teams who worked tirelessly to bring our Philip home safely but sadly in vain.

"Their efforts have not gone unnoticed and without their continual hard work throughout the rescue attempt we would not have our Philip home to allow us to grieve.

"In addition we wish to thank the Red Cross, WRVS volunteers and local food retailers who helped with all food supplies throughout our time at the Rhos community hall, who offered support and words of comfort.

"As a family we have endured much tragedy in the past 10 months with the loss of our beloved Merle Hill dear wife of Peter and mother to Philip and his sister Julie.

"In March this year we also suffered the tragic loss of Simon, son of Philip and brother to Lee and Kyla. We as a family have had our lives enriched with their presence and are now attempting to grieve their loss.

"We express our gratitude to the communities and individuals who assisted in the search and rescue operation to save Philip and his colleagues and for them to know that we will always remember their tireless efforts and support.

"However we now wish to be allowed to grieve our most recent loss our beloved Philip.

"We now ask the press to cease contact and attempts to speak with the family to allow us to grieve in the safety of our homes and with the support of family and friends."

Garry Jenkins, 39, from Swansea Valley

Garry Jenkins Garry Jenkins' family say he enjoyed caravanning and playing darts

"The family of Garry Jenkins wish to express their heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all friends and the communities for their continued support following the loss of his life at Gleision Colliery.

"We wish to say that Garry was special in every way. He was always happy, hard working and never without a smile on his face. He would help anybody he could in any way.

"He lived life to the full enjoying his caravanning and following his family and supporting them in their motocross racing. His other passion was playing darts with his good mates at his local.

"He will be missed so much as an adored partner, most special son, best brother in the world, a devoted father, grandson, uncle, great uncle, nephew and best friend.

"His son Alex would like to say: "I am going to miss him, he will always be loved. Dad was a great darter and a motorbike rider but most of all he was a great dad."

"We express our gratitude to the emergency services who assisted in the search and rescue operation to save Garry and his colleagues and for them to know that we will always remember their tireless efforts and support.

"We also would like to thank the support of all the other volunteers who provided their services and also the local traders who provided provisions at Rhos Community Centre.

"We now wish to be allowed to grieve our most recent loss our beloved Garry.

"We now ask the press to cease contact and attempts to speak with the family to allow us to grieve in the safety of our homes and with the support of family and friends."

David Powell, 50, from Swansea Valley

David Powell David Powell "brought joy and fun" to everyone, his family said

"Our family would like to express our deep sadness at the loss of such a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, son and true friend. Dai was our life and soul, he brought joy and fun to everyone he met.

"We miss you Dai, you were a proud collier and man. You will never be forgotten.

"The family would like to take this opportunity to reflect upon this sad time and thank all those who have helped all the families at this sad time.

"We ask that our family be given privacy and time to grieve over our tragic loss."

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