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Documentary on Senghenydd mining disaster wins RTS award

Published in News at 17:00, Friday June 1st, 2012. Last updated at 10:42, Thursday June 7th, 2012

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Left to right - Andrew Gough, Aled Herbert, who played John Walters, the main character, James Earing, Paris Palmer, Ian Morley and John Shand

A documentary filmmaker from the Aber Valley has won a prestigious Royal Society for Television award for his film about the 1913 Senghenydd mining disaster.

Andrew Gough, 22, won the undergraduate entertainment category in the RTS Student Television Awards for his film ‘The Mourning of the Valley’ which he produced for his final year project while studying film and documentary making at Newport University.

Four-hundred-and-thirty-nine miners died in the disaster at the Universal Colliery – the worst in British history – but one man, through a twist of fate, avoided being killed.

John Walters, the great grandfather of filmmaker Andrew Gough, 22, is the central character of the 15 minute documentary.

Andrew said: “The film is set around my great grandfather who worked at the colliery who, quite fortunately for me, didn’t go to work that day because his daughter had kept him up the night before.

“My mother always told the story as I was growing up and being from Senghenydd you know about the disaster. My mother always used to tell me that I wouldn’t be here without that twist of fate. As a kid I didn’t realise it, but as I’ve gotten older it’s pretty extraordinary.”

The film was produced with fellow Newport University students Paris Palmer, John Shand, James Earing and Ian Morley and was put forward in the competition by the group’s university tutor Professor Christopher Morris.

RTS judges said the film “displayed exceptional production values delivered to broadcast standards” and that it was “technically confident and incorporated a clear and moving narrative.”

Andrew, who graduated in August last year and now works for a video production company in Cardiff, said: “We’re honoured to have won the award. It’s a pretty prestigious award and we never expected it.

“It’s good for your confidence when you get recognised. It makes you feel good about your abilities.”

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  • Gareth

    A fantastic film and a well deserved award. My Great Grandfather wasn’t on shift that morning and immediately after this managed to get himself retrained so he didn’t have to go down the pit again. My Grandfather Ieuan Lewis was born in November 1913, I think the first baby born after this dreadful event. His father made sure that he never had to work down the pit, as I think many did after this. It’s one of those events practically forgotten about now but touching to see how it hasn’t been forgotten by the real people of the Aber Valley.

  • sian

    A very moving account: the Aber Valley Womens Institute are planning an event to commemorate the 1913 Mining disaster – with an emphasis on the stories of the women left behind. If you feel you could help us unearth any relevant material I would be grateful to hear from you.

  • Viv Rees

    Every disaster has its quirks of fate and the Senghenydd explosion was no exception. My father's brother was not due in work until the afternoon of that tragic day but had exchanged shifts with a work-mate who, although due to work that morning, had to travel to Cardiff to attend what in those days was known as a "Chest Board" (probably a euphemism for the State cheating miners their just compensation for "dust" problems. Sadly, and perhaps somewhat inevitably, this change of shifts resulted in the death of my uncle. It is thanks to the Herculean efforts of a number of Aber Valley stalwarts, some sadly no longer with us, that a fitting memorial will at long, long last be erected.

  • Althea

    I have only just watched this, well deserved award really easy to watch very high quality of filming and well structured. Powerful and honest film. Thank you for sharing!!