Rhondda AM Leanne Wood has marked the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan by taking part in an event that will see broadleaf saplings planted for every child victim of the disaster.
The saplings were donated by the High Street Social café in Treorci which also hosted a commemorative event featuring speeches by Leanne and locally born Leighton Davies QC.
The event also featured an impromptu and impassioned contribution from a local woman who had been working as a nurse on the day of the disaster at the Royal Infirmary in Cardiff where the children’s ward had to be cleared to make room for the victims of the tragedy.
During her speech, Ms Wood said: “It is incumbent on all of us and the generations that follow, to ensure that we continue to remember and mark what happened that day in Aberfan all those years ago. Today will ensure that the Rhondda will remember……always.”
After the speeches, Ms Wood joined local school children to plant the first of the saplings in a field adjacent to Treorci Primary School.
Afterwards, Ms Wood said: “The disaster that struck Aberfan 50 years ago has left an indelible mark on our nation. Time has not dulled the stark horror of that dark day in a Welsh coalmining village.
“Like Aberfan, many of our communities were created for the coal industry. Penygraig - the place where I was born and raised and continue to live in - is no different.
“It is due to the commonality with Aberfan that there is a strong sense of solidarity towards this community throughout Wales.
“I was pleased to take part in this memorial event organised by High Street Social in Treorci to show that the thoughts of the Rhondda are very much with the community of Aberfan and its people on the 50th anniversary of this awful disaster.
“I want to thank Cath and Geraint at High Street Social for providing a lasting tribute to 116 children killed that day. The planting of broadleaf saplings by local school children is a touching and fitting memorial.”
Catherine Hughes, co-owner of High Street Social, said: "The impact of the events on that fateful day, and its social and political aftermath, are still felt with great sorrow across the Valleys of South Wales and beyond.
"Our thoughts are very much with the community of Aberfan. The planting of the Welsh trees by the young people of the Rhondda will create an enduring memorial to the 116 young lives lost on 21 October 1966."