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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
12:00 AM | Posted by Tara
My submission in the anthology ‘A Pit Story’ is set in the town where I grew up and based on a local event. The Hapton Valley pit explosion is part of the local history of the area. Back when it was a mining town it was very community based. The miners on shifts would often be from the same area of town, so the people you were working with would be your friends, neighbours, relatives. Every year there is still a remembrance service for the victims, my grandma would often go and even now there’s still a good turnout for it. Last year was the fiftieth anniversary and a special banner for the pit was placed at the local museum.
It was such a sad event, but even in the midst of that kind of tragedy there was the idea of a community coming together.
I first heard about Maud in one of the press releases about it. It was a simple two line mention;
‘Maud Waggett, the resident nursing sister, went to the face to give morphia to the wounded and dying men. She was later awarded a gong from the queen for her bravery, but also faced disciplinary action from the N.C.B., because at the time, it was illegal for women to go into the mine.’
but it sparked my imagination. Everyone helping on that rescue mission was risking their life but Maud stood out to me. The contradiction if nothing else – the fact that she was seen and recognised as doing such a brave act but she was still disciplined as it ‘wasn’t allowed’. She struck me as someone who must have been very brave and strong-willed, someone who was determined to do what was right and to help people even though she knew it would have personal repercussions for her.
When I started looking into it more I was surprised how very little information there was on her. Many accounts don’t mention her at all and those that do tend to just put in a single line of basic information. I struggled to find any personal background on Maud; was she married, did she have children, why did she want to be a nurse, what was going through her mind when she went down into that mine? From living in that area for many years I had an image in my mind of what she would be like. A typical working class Lancashire woman – no-nonsense, down to earth, family and community oriented, the type of person who would just knuckle down and get on with things.
This was the first time I had written a story that was based on a real historic figure and I did find it was a little intimidating. Obviously Maud was a real person, she probably still has family left, and so it was important to me to try and do her justice and tell her story.
I really hope you enjoy Maud’s story in ‘A Pit Story’. If you would like to know more about me and my writing then please feel free to visit my Facebook page at:
or my blog at: http://shellirosewarne.wordpress.com