IT has been another extremely busy month and the good news is as I write this column the weather seems to have finally taken a turn for the better and the sun is out.

If this proves not to last, I of course take no responsibility.

As a child of the South Wales valleys, the mining industry has always been close to my heart and I in fact started my working life underground.

That is why I was so keen to join First Minister Carwyn Jones and fellow AMs at the launch of the National Miners Memorial appeal.

People of a certain age in the Valleys were always aware that mining, while being the source of many families’ incomes, always carried with it the possibility of real tragedy.

The appeal was launched just outside Islwyn in Senghenydd where the biggest such tragedy took place, 440 men lost their lives.

Islwyn is not immune from such events, the Prince of Wales Colliery disaster resulted in 272 lives being lost in Abercarn.

That is why it is so important to have a national memorial to remember all those whose lives were lost.

● I have spent much of the last month speaking to employees and their shop stewards at Remploy in Croespenmaen.

For those of you that are not aware the UK government started a consultation process earlier this year which placed all 54 Remploy sites across the UK under threat of closure, leaving some very hardworking individuals with extremely uncertain futures.

The consultation process has now come to an end but we still have no firm news on the future of the Croespenmaen site. All we currently know is there is a potential buyer for the site and we will find out by September if this materialises.

The workforce are concerned and angry in equal measure and I was proud to be able to join many of them on the picket line for the Remploy strike.

On that occasion and on every other I have worked with them, I have been impressed by the way people who have been treated so badly have handled themselves with such dignity.