Amer­i­can fam­ily trace their South Wales roots at mine

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

AN AMER­I­CAN fam­ily on hol­i­day in Wales re­traced their roots by vis­it­ing a Rhondda mine.

Mila, Erica and Jeroen Visser ’t Hooft trav­elled more than 5,000 miles from Berke­ley in Cal­i­for­nia for their trip to South Wales, the home of their an­ces­tors.

They are keen to learn more about the area and have a keen in­ter­est in Welsh cul­ture, and vis­ited the Welsh Min­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence at Rhondda Her­itage Park.

Jeroen, 15, had even com­peted pre­vi­ously at the Na­tional Eisteddfod of Wales in Llan­gollen with his school choir.

“We had a great time in Wales, es­pe­cially at the Welsh Min­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence at Rhondda Her­itage Park, where we learned so much about the story of coal and the his­tory of Wales as a na­tion,” said Mila.

“Jeroen was al­ready fa­mil­iar with the area, hav­ing been to Wales pre­vi­ously and singing about the 1984 Min­ers’ Strike and the hard­ships en­coun­tered by fam­i­lies in the area at the time.

“The Black Gold Ex­pe­ri­ence was out of this world and is some­thing that will stay with us for a very long time.

“Our trip was very mean­ing­ful, es­pe­cially since Jeroen has sung about it, and with our an­ces­tors com­ing from South Wales.

“Our fam­ily em­i­grated to Amer­ica in the 18th cen­tury, like so many other fam­i­lies at the time, to es­cape the poverty in Wales.

“Since com­ing to Wales, and since our visit to the Welsh Min­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence, I feel I now un­der­stand more about my fam­ily roots. It was a trip I will never for­get.”

The fam­ily has since re­turned home to Berke­ley, which is sit­u­ated on the eastern shore of San Fran­cisco Bay.

Coun­cil­lor Ann Crim­mings, cab­i­net mem­ber for en­vi­ron­ment and leisure, with re­spon­si­bil­ity for vis­i­tor at­trac­tions, said: “We are so proud to have The Welsh Min­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence at Rhondda Her­itage Park, right here on our doorstep, telling the fas­ci­nat­ing story of the coal in­dus­try that made the Rhondda Val­ley so fa­mous across the globe.

“Coal mined in the val­leys of South Wales was ex­ported around the world on a daily ba­sis – mil­lions of tonnes of coal.

“The col­lieries may be long gone, but the story of coal will live on and I am de­lighted that the Visser ’t Hooft fam­ily have taken so many cher­ished mem­o­ries home with them.”

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