‘It’s been more than a year but we don’t sleep... we want to know what happened’
The grief-stricken parents of an electrician killed while working on the A465 are hoping for answers when an inquest into his death opens later this month. Gemma Parry reports
PAT and Tom Thomas are clearly grief-stricken over the loss of their son.
In their home in Dyffryn Cellwen, near Banwen, there are plenty of pictures of Anthony, who died in September 2016.
The 42-year-old Neath Port Talbot Council electrician was killed while working on the A465 Heads of the Valley Road, near Merthyr Tydfil.
Affectionately known as “Ajax”, Anthony was a popular player and coach with Banwen RFC and had also played for Dunvant during their spell in the top flight of Welsh rugby during the mid-1990s.
At the time of his death he was enjoying being a new dad to seven-monthold Katie, with girlfriend Caroline Williams.
More than a year later, his family are still waiting for answers about his death.
“We were devastated,” says Pat. “The police came here to tell us he had died and it was a huge shock.
“Tom went to identify his body, but we still couldn’t believe it.
“It’s been more than a year but we don’t sleep. We get up in the morning and we just sit here and cry.
“I cannot go into his bedroom upstairs. I haven’t touched it at all.” Sadly, it isn’t the first time the family have experienced such a devastating loss.
More than 20 years ago, Pat, aged 69, and Tom, aged 71, lost another son, David, in a car accident. He was just 26 years old.
Anthony’s death has also had a huge impact on younger relatives. “My grandson, Kristian, is devastated,” Pat says. “They were so close, and Anthony spoilt all the children rotten. He was almost like Kristian’s father. He would take him to play rugby all the time. A few weeks before he died, they had gone to Dundee together for a clay pigeon shooting competition. Anthony was really good at it, and a rugby fanatic.”
“He played rugby in school,” Tom adds proudly. We used to go and watch him all the time. He even went to Australia to play while he was a student there.
“He went on to play for Dunvant and Ystragynlais. Llangatwg School, where he used to go, is going to have a memorial for him. He was the type of person who would tell it to you straight,” Pat says with a smile.
She adds: “He was a little monkey, honestly, and very cheeky. He was very funny too.
“He had so many friends – he’d do anything for anyone – and when we had the funeral, it was absolutely packed full. People couldn’t get in. He was so popular.”
With an inquest into his death now set for February 27 in Aberdare, Pat says they are hoping for answers.
“We want to know what has happened and who was there with him when it happened.
“We want the details so that all this can progress.”
Anthony ‘Ajax’ Thomas played top-flight rugby in the mid-1990s
Anthony’s parents, Pat and Tom Thomas, from Banwen in Neath