Miner worked hard to build home for family
Above the door of Charles Breslin's whitewashed home in the village of Cwmllynfell is an embedded granite stone with "2010" carved into it. The stone is there as a testament to the hard work he put in to build a new home for himself and his wife Mavis.
A steady stream of neighbours and well-wishers visited the family as they clung on to the hope that Mr Breslin (62) would be pulled out alive from the Gleision Colliery. Their hopes were dashed as it emerged yesterday evening that all four men were killed in what is now one of Britain's worst recent mining accidents. Although police and family members have yet formally to identify the bodies, those killed alongside Mr Breslin are known to be David Powell (50), Garry Jenkins (39), and Phillip Hill (45).
Neighbours described Mr Breslin as an immensely kind and friendly man who had worked tirelessly to build a new house where he and his wife could enjoy their imminent retirement.
Further south in the town of Ystalyfera, locals in the Corner Hut pub were glued to the television screens. “It's not unusual to have a man Charles's age down the mines,” the landlord said. “They have the expertise.”
While some family members chose to return to their homes to await the bad news, others remained in the community centre in Rhos. After the news was broken that the fourth miner had been found dead, the Welsh Secretary Peter Hain described the scene inside the centre. “The wife of a miner sitting in a hall,” he said. “Just sitting there. With a tear. And thanking me as if I'd done something.”
For the family of David Powell their sadness was at least tempered by the news that his son Andrew (23) was one of the three miners who managed to escape. The others who made it out alive have been named as Malcolm Fifield (46), the line manager, and Mark Lloyd (45). However, one man is in a critical condition.