50 years ago today, 45 men lost their lives in the Six Bells colliery disaster.

Fathers, sons and brothers perished when a gas explosion ripped through the Arrael Griffin pit at 10.45am.

Time has helped heal the wounds of the village, but there is not a day goes by that the families of those killed don't think of the ones they loved and lost.

After years of fundraising, the people of Six Bells have come together to raise enough money through grants and donations to erect a 20m high statue in memory of the dead.

The statute of a lone miner was being put into place over the weekend, a prominent reminder on the site of the colliery.

This morning the Guardian statue will be officially unveiled by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the friends and family will gather to remember the fallen on that fateful day.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Apt tribute to colliers

IT IS a day etched into the memory of so many people still living in Six Bells and the surrounding villages and towns. Fifty years ago a gas explosion ripped through the Six Bells colliery, claiming the lives of 45 miners, some of them fathers and sons.

And it is fitting that on the 50th anniversary of the disaster a landmark memorial is to be unveiled to those who died.

It was when discussions started over what to do with the existing memorial, which was in danger of falling into disrepair, that the nugget of an idea was formed to replace it with something more substantial.

Following much discussion the idea for the 20m high "Guardian" statue was born.

Funding of £200,000 was secured and the steel statue designed by Sebastien Boyesen.

As you can see from our picture today of the almost complete statue, it is a simple design made special by virtue of its sheer size.

And in our view, those who died at last have a memorial in keeping with the scale of the disaster which rocked this close-knit community and left so many families devastated.

The memorial, which stands above the former colliery site, will be officially unveiled during a service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the Swansea-born, former Archbishop of Wales.

Relatives of the victims, the survivors of the disaster and those involved in the rescue teams will be among those remembering them today as the memorial featuring the names, age and home town of all who died is unveiled.