South West Wales

Gleision mine deaths: Widows speak publicly of tragedy

The widows of two men who lost their lives in the Gleision mining tragedy have spoken publicly for the first time about how their lives have been turned upside down.

The families of David Powell, 50, and Charles Breslin, 62, were at Ffos Las racecourse, Carmarthenshire, to accept a £75,000 appeal cheque.

Mavis Breslin said the response to the appeal had been "overwhelming".

Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, also died on 15 September.

Three other men escaped when the Gleision drift mine, near Pontardawe, flooded after a retaining wall holding back a body of water failed.

The Swansea Valley Miners' Appeal Fund was set up within days of the disaster and has attracted donations from around the world, raising nearly £700,000.

The £75,000 was raised by visitors, trainers, horse owners and others associated with the course after two days of racing earlier this month.

It is the biggest single donation to an appeal fund to help the families.

'Heart-warming'

Mavis Breslin, widow of Charles Breslin, said it was an "amazing amount" and the response to the appeal had been "overwhelming".

The four men died when the mine flooded on 15 September

"It has been really comforting to know that people are supporting us," she added.

"It has been heart-warming."

Lynette Powell, who lost her husband David, said: "You're still in this bubble and you still don't come down to earth to realise it, to appreciate it.

"And thank you is not such a word anymore, because everybody's been fabulous, absolutely fabulous."

She added: "Because of the tragedy you don't think about the future.

"When our husbands died...you're just in this bubble and you still are to this day."

She added that she had not had "time to grieve yet, because everybody out there is so, absolutely tremendous, for what they're doing, and they're still doing it to this day."

She added: "You still can't get to terms with it yet."

Mrs Powell described the appeal fund's patron Prince Charles - who visited mine rescuers last week - as "fabulous".

Garry Jenkins' sister, Leanne Walters, said: "It's unbelievable what we've had. We've received flowers from various places...New Zealand, Chile, everywhere."

Ffos Las general manager, Tim Long, said: "Our visitors were hugely generous in their donations.

"It was very pleasing to welcome the families of the miners and patrons of the Swansea Valley Miners' Appeal Fund for the formal presentation."

Racecourse chairman Dai Walters said: "I am absolutely delighted that our sponsors and supporters have been so generous and made such a major contribution to boosting the appeal fund."

Appeal organisers have said the fund has become so big they have taken specialist accountancy and tax advice.

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