THE FIFTIETH anniversary of one of Wales’s worst disasters is marked by a new book by a Pembrokeshire author.

Greg Lewis has worked with Gaynor Madgwick on the book about the Aberfan disaster, in which a number of rescuers, survivors and bereaved parents speak for the first time about that day.

Gaynor was an eight-year-old schoolgirl on October 21, 1966, when thousands of tonnes of coal tip waste slid down a mountainside and devastated the mining village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil.

Gaynor was severely injured. Her brother, Carl, and sister, Marylyn, were in classrooms either side of her, and both died.

Gaynor wanted to tell her story and teamed up with Greg, a television producer and former Western Telegraph journalist.

“The Aberfan disaster stunned the country and shocked the world,” said Greg. “The coal waste slide destroyed homes and the local school, where pupils were celebrating the last day of term.

“It killed 144 people – 116 of them were schoolchildren. The rescue and recovery operation which followed was huge, with people coming from around Wales, including Pembrokeshire, with blankets and shovels to help.”

In Aberfan, which is published by Y Lolfa, Gaynor tells her own story and interviews people affected by that day – from the bereaved and the rescuers, to the police and royalty.

“It’s a personal story, but also one which gives a definitive account of the disaster,” Greg added.

“Gaynor’s journey to meet up with people who were there that day sees her explore the nature of courage and grief. She also considers her faith in God, which remains strong, but also that of those who lost their faith that day.”

The book includes a foreword by the Earl of Snowdon and an introduction by the veteran BBC broadcaster Vincent Kane.

Lord Snowdon visited Aberfan immediately after the disaster and was one of the first people to read a draft of the book. He described Gaynor’s journey as “a brave, heart-breaking and inspiring journey”.

Greg and Gaynor have also made a programme called Aberfan: A Survivor’s Journey which will be broadcast on BBC Radio Wales at 1.15pm on October 20th.