The Blaenau Gwent & Rhymney Food Fund

The Blaenau Gwent & Rhymney Food Fund.
A few months into the miners’ strike it seemed inevitable that it was going to be a long-drawn-out battle between the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers, many miners that were out of work were not getting paid, debts were piling up, the outlook for talks on resolving the crisis looked bleak and hardship set in causing strain for many families. At this time the Blaenau Gwent & Rhymney Food Fund was set up, organised by the National Union of Mineworkers.

The officers of the Blaenau Gwent & Rhymney Food Fund were as follows – Mr Ken Jones (Chairman); Mr Bernard Skinner (Treasurer); Mr Jim Watkins of Six Bells (Food Co-ordinator); (Mr Ron Stoate of Penallta; Mr Keith Edwards of Britannia; Mr Gerald Law of Nantgarw; Mr Ernie Sanger of Nantgarw; Mr Ray Gurmen of Markham; Mr Gerald Edwards of Bargoed; Mr Roy Williams of Six Bells; Mr Des Aylesbury of Six Bells; Mr Alan Sandel of Celynen North; Mr Ray Lawrence of Celynen South; Mr Ian Cole of Blaenserchan; Mr Sam Holland of Markham; Mr William Greenaway of Bargoed; Mr Dai Edwards of Marine; Mr Gethin Jones of Rhymney Valley; Mr William Parry of Tredegar Combine; Mr Howard Miles of Tredegar Combine and Mr Tony Davies of Blaenserchan: The old Council Offices at Alexandra Road, Abertillery was used as the depot for the Blaenau Gwent & Rhymney Food Fund. It was maintained by many generous street collections, food and clothing donations, money donations and gifts etc.

Mrs Beryl Fury.
Mrs Beryl Fury was in charge at the food depot at Abertillery and in August 1984 she wrote in a support group newsletter that from that food depot they packed and delivered 4,500 parcels of food per week and they covered fourteen collieries. Into each food parcel went 2lb of sugar, a quarter pound of tea, one tin each of beans, peas, tomatoes, corned beef, milk and jam. On day one they also added one loaf of bread for each parcel. Mrs Fury explained how they worked twelve-hours per day seven days per week. Also reported working at the centre were Heather and Laura with the help of ten wives and six miners.

Apart from the food depot, food donations received at the offices were also taken to the Abertillery Miners Institute where food parcels were made up by volunteers and pickets in their spare time and handed out to the miners and their families. Parcels and sacks of potatoes were also transported with hire vans from the Abertillery Miners Institute to the Beynon’s Welfare Club, West Side, Blaina for distribution to the miner’s families at Blaina.

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