My Wife’s Uncle Tom

Leaving the M4 near Newport when on our occasional trips to Brecon and beyond, we have, if the weather allows, dropped down into Talybont and made our way along to the village of Llanfrynach, The Church of St Brynach with its overgrown churchyard is about 3 miles south of the market town of Brecon. Our focus is not just the well kept ‘comfort stop’ which the villagers provide but the churchyard itself. There is a tomb stone still standing after 100 years, to Thomas Adams. Brother to her father he was the uncle my wife never knew. He died at the age of 19 in the Senghenydd explosion 100 years today, one of the 400 men and boys who died in that awful tragedy. Imagine that small community of Senghenydd bereft of so many of its men folk.

My grandfather was on the afternoon shift, and so must have been my wife’s grandfather, he was one of the rescuers who went down the pit following the explosion. One can only imagine the conditions with the ventilation system blown out. Tom’s father died the following year. The Adams family had come from Llanfrynach. Many people had come to the industrial area of South Wales from other parts of rural Wales. And when we call by at Talybont and Llanfrynach we remind ourselves of the lovely setting that was left behind for the hazardous work of mining in the south.

For my wife’s Uncle Tom, mining was a means to something much different. He had a goal in life. In his spare time 19-year-old Thomas Adams was studying for the Methodist ministry. God knows his life and intentions, and one day my wife will see the Uncle Tom she never knew. That is the Christian hope. Meanwhile, when we are up that way we will stop by and put a spray of sweet peas by the headstone to let others know there is someone who still thinks about him. 

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