At 9:15am on the morning of the 21st October, 1966 ‘Tip Seven’ rushed down the mountain above the Welsh village of Aberfan engulfing everything in its path, including Pant Glas Junior School. The catastrophic collapse of a National Coal Board colliery spoil tip tragically killed 144 people that day. 116 of those killed were children.
The disaster was so horrifying; everyone wanted to do something to help. Hundreds of people stopped what they were doing, threw a shovel in the car, and drove to Aberfan from miles around to help with the rescue. No one was rescued alive after 11am that day.
I am an actress first and foremost and it was back at drama school, 7 years ago, that I wrote the first draft of my screenplay. It is based around the story of a surviving teacher, Hettie Williams née Taylor, and the stories of others in the community at the time of the disaster. This script started life as part of my drama school dissertation. We were told that we could either write an essay, part of a musical, a play, or a screenplay. I just knew that whatever I chose, it had to be for a reason and had to really mean something to me. I wanted to write something with a connection to Wales and when a friend told me Hettie’s story and I looked further into The Aberfan Disaster, I felt compelled to write about it. It is a poignant story of hope, love and a need for justice.
I kept this screenplay to myself until now, partly due to its delicate subject matter, but since the 50th anniversary of the disaster last year more people affected by the tragedy have started to open up and talk about it, when they’ve felt unable to previously. I felt it was time I revisited my script and being from Blackwood in South Wales, not too far away from Aberfan, it is a subject that is close to my heart. With all of the awful events that have happened recently/are happening all over the world, a story of how a small community tragically lost almost an entire generation, yet somehow managed to pull together and gather the strength to keep going would inspire others.
David Evan Giles (Co-writer of the film ‘Paradise Road’ and Australian Academy Award nominee) has agreed to help me develop my script further. He felt a connection to the story, as he remembers seeing how shocked and upset his grandmother was the moment she heard about the disaster and how it affected her emotionally. She had worked as a teacher herself in Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley.
To work with David is a massive opportunity for me and opportunities like this don’t come around very often! Right now I am in the process of looking for script development funding, then at a later stage I will look for further funding to hopefully produce my film.
My ultimate aim, if I manage to make anything from the film, is to be able to give back to the community of Aberfan in memory of its lost generation and to also help various community projects throughout the Valleys. It is something I feel really passionate about. If you are interested in my project, know someone who might be, or if you can help in any way towards my goal, please take a look at my Crowdfunder page, or get in contact with me. Any support would be greatly appreciated!