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South Wales East AM Lindsay Whittle’s blog: May 15

Published in Comment, News at 13:00, Wednesday May 15th, 2013.

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Universal Colliery
Caerphilly Observer readers will be aware of the exciting plans for a Welsh National Mining Memorial on the site of Universal Colliery Disaster in Senghenydd 100 years ago on October 14 this year.

Last week I was interviewed by renowned BBC Radio Wales broadcaster Roy Noble about the disaster and my family’s links with it.

My great grandfather Evan Hopcyn James was one of the 439 men and boys who died in the disaster, the worst ever in the UK. Just 12 years earlier more than 80 men died underground at Senghenydd.

When I was younger I was told the story of how my grandfather, who was 13 at the time, and my great grandmother carried my great grandfather’s body home in the family tin bath where he was laid out on the kitchen table.

What an appalling experience that must have been for a 13-year-old boy. My great grandmother was a tailor in Senghenydd, but she also laid out people after they had passed away.

It is amazing to think that ten 14-year-old boys died in that terrible disaster as well as so many adults. The interview with Roy Noble will be broadcast in due course.

The Aber Valley Heritage Group is continuing to raising money for this worthy memorial but despite support from many organisations including the council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh Government, money is still needed to meet the cost of the memorial.

If you can help the group reach its target please find more information at http://your.caerphilly.gov.uk/abervalleyheritage/mining-memorial/national-mining-memorial

Measles Outbreak
I wanted to take the opportunity to urge parents to ensure their children are vaccinated against measles. Only this week Public Health Wales warned that MMR vaccine uptake remains too low to eliminate measles in Wales.

More cases of measles have been seen in people aged 10 to 18 than any other age group in this outbreak – which has now hit 1,094 cases across Wales – but vaccine uptake is disappointing.

There have now been 1,257 cases of measles since the start of November 2012 and Public Health Wales continues to warn of the danger of further outbreaks.

More than 43,000 non-routine MMR vaccines have been given since the outbreak began but uptake in the 10-18 age group remains too low to eliminate measles.

There are particular concerns about a possible future measles outbreak in Gwent, where 84 measles cases have been reported since November.

In the seven days up to May 9, 201 MMR vaccines were given to young people aged between ten and 19 in Gwent – leaving around 10,000 children still vulnerable to measles. Please get your child vaccinated before there is a tragedy.

Lindsay Whittle
Plaid Cymru AM South Wales East

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