WEATHERMAN Walking Derek Brockway launched a walk to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Save Our Sands (SOS) campaign on Thursday (May 23).
The TV favourite joined 600 children from local schools on the walk and he found time to speak to SOS campaign press officer Ron Cant to learn more of the more incredible community battle.
Derek admitted he was astonished at the passion the children showed for the history and the importance of the protection of their beach. “It is really moving. This has been a history lesson for me and something I knew nothing of,” he said after the walk.
Mr Brockway walked from Burry Port, through Pembrey and along Cefn Sidan, up Banc y Lord to Kidwelly Flats visiting the Night Fighter Gunnery Dome at RAF Pembrey and on to Kidwelly Castle telling the story of the SOS campaign and Cefn Sidan, its great wrecking history. It will all comprise a programme part of his next Weatherman Walking series to be shown in 2020.
Ten schools from Stradey to Kidwelly took part in the two mile charity walk raising funds for a memorial for the 50th anniversary of the Save Our Sands (SOS) campaign a bitterly fought battle to save Cefn Sidan Sands Pembrey from the Shoeburyness Monster that started in 1969.
The ‘Shoeburyness Monster’ was the term adopted by the campaigner who fought off Ministry of defence plans to transfer the proofing and experimental gunnery ranges at the Essex marshes to Pembrey lock stock and barrel to make way for a third London airport there.
Photos by Byron Williams
An SOS@50 group has been set up in the last six months to reawaken interest in the much forgotten massive community battle to fight off the Ministry of Defence and their ambitions to turn Pembrey and Burry Port into a garrison town.
Their chairman Mike Clement has been visiting schools from Kidwelly to Stradey to inform pupils of the campaign and that spawned interest in the walk that raised funds for a memorial so that the battle will never be forgotten by future generations.
Ironically pupils from the former Burry Port Secondary School in 1969 walked from Carmarthen to Pembrey raising £200 that went towards posters and car stickers for the two battle that included colourful posters declaring “Save Our Sands”, “We Will Fight Them on the Beaches” “Sea Shells NOT Gun shells”, “Fight off the Shoeburyness Monster”, “Say No to the Big Guns”.
SOS@50 chairman Clement said many generations of schoolchildren had grown up enjoying the fabulous Pembrey Country Park with no idea of the great battle and community struggle that led to its creation.
“It was great to see so many children enjoying the walk with their teachers along the coastal path that would not have existed if it had not been for the famous battle against the Ministry of Defence.
“Few people in the community today know of the desperate, battle that ensued. There were dirty tricks employed by the MoD that backfired when there were retaliatory barrages of mischievous tactics that forced them to a public enquiry that they eventually lost.
“They didn’t need to agree to a public enquiry. Neither did they need to submit planning for their ambitions to turn Pembrey Peninsula into a gunnery range.
“Had that happened access to the fabulous coast we know between Burry port and Kidwelly would have been restricted to a few weekends a year and occasional Bank Holidays.
“There would have been no Pembrey Country Park which came about four years after the Public Enquiry found in favour of the protestors in 1971.”
The park has since become one of Wales’ foremost visitor attractions which in the middle 1980’s was attracting a million visitors a year.
To read the full history of the SOS campaign visit www.carmarthenshiretimes.com our online features magazine.