More than 7,500 people died from the virus in Wales, with former mining communities among the hardest hit by the pandemic. In the final part of his lockdown mental health series, Joe Shute reports here:
Andrew Thomas has witnessed two tragedies engulf the Welsh valleys in his lifetime. The first came on October 21, 1966, when he was a six-year-old pupil at Pantglas primary school in Aberfan.
On that day which will forever be imprinted on his mind and the history of the area, a collapsed colliery spoil tip led to a landslide which buried the school and destroyed nearby homes killing 144 people – 116 of whom were classmates of Andrew.
He was lucky to be in a room on the other side of school when the landslide hit, climbing out of a window to safety. But his older brother, Bernard, was one of those buried under the rubble.
Bernard survived, but struggled throughout his life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) something which Andrew (pictured, top) has also suffered from.
Then a year ago a new slow motion disaster came rolling through the valleys in the form of Covid-19. This January Bernard lost his life to the virus at the age of 63. Two cousins have also died, with the nearby town of Merthyr Tydfil persistently recording among some of the highest rates in Wales.
Read the full piece here.