Mark Thomas - The Canari Project

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Interviewer – Dr Georgia Eglezou

Interviewee – Phil Williams

Date of interview – 24/05/2018

Location – Fleur de Lys Institute

Mark Thomas answers questions relating to his experiences and awareness of disability within the context of coal mining in the South Wales valleys.  Mark started as a mining craft apprentice when he was 17 years old attending college one day week to learn about mining techniques witht he aim of becoming a mining official.  His apprenticeship started in 1982 at North Celynen colliery and he went on to work at Oakdale and Tower colliery after the miner's buy out which he left in 1994.  

He speaks of a training officer at North Celynen colliery who had a visual disability from a mining injury who used Mark in his first year of his apprenticeship to do his filing.  Mark recalls that people with disabilities working in the coal fields were given worthwhile jobs in that they were jobs that needed to be done.  Such jobs included servicing the miners lamps and other surface jobs.  They weren't menial jobs and they required previous knowledge and experience of working underground.  Mark does not think his own health was affected by the work citing the existence of ear protection and gloves and good quality boots at the time he was working although he does admit to a little deafness.  He is glad of the experience of working in the mining industry which he feels gives him a different relationship with the past. 

Finally Mark shares his honest feelings as to incidents that occurred during the Miners strike which may have had a detrimental effect on the mental health of some miners.