Pit digs deep to give Welsh a second chance

March 7, 1997

COAL may no longer dominate the Welsh economy, but the emphasis on education cherished in mining communities endures.

Tower, the pit saved from closure in 1995 by a management buy-out, has linked up with the Cooperative Bank to sponsor students at the Community University of the Valleys in the former mining community of Banwen.

The Pounds 5,000 donation stems from the bank's sponsorship of a history of the Tower buy-out, Lessons in Vigilance and Freedom, written by Hywel Francis, director of adult and continuing education at the University of Wales, Swansea. He was one of the founders of the Community University, which gives adult learners a second chance, six years ago.

The money will start a students' bursary fund to assist future students. About 80 students work on part-time courses at Banwen. Professor Francis hopes to extend the partnership project, between Swansea, the Open University and the University of Glamorgan, to other valley sites.

Tyrone O'Sullivan, leader of the buy-out, was a student on the day-release course run by Professor Francis for the South Wales miners in the 1970s. Professor Francis was co-author with Dai Smith of The Fed, the history of the South Wales miners.

Professor Francis said: "A culture of learning has always been central to the life of the South Wales valleys, and also to the initiative and success of Tower colliery.

"We look forward to greater collaboration with this and other local companies."

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