Schoolteacher who led pupils to safety in Aberfan disaster dies aged 86

A schoolteacher who led many pupils to safety during the Aberfan disaster has died at the age of 86.

Rennie Williams was a teacher at Pantglas Junior School in 1966 when a coal tip slid down the mountainside, engulfing the school and a number of nearby buildings.

144 people were killed, including 116 children.

Gareth Jones, one of Mrs Williams' former pupils who was six-years-old at the time, said her "quick thinking" saved his life.

"It was the last day of term, but then the disaster struck", he told ITV Wales.

Soldiers and miners at work amid the wreckage at Pantglas Junior School - 1966 Credit: PA

"At the time, we and she didn't know what happened.

"She put a desk against the wall by the window - and a chair on top of that - and helped many children to escape the disaster that way. I was one of the first ones out.

"I think that lady deserved a big medal for saving our lives and personally, for saving my life.

"She was an absolutely fantastic lady. I met her again many, many years later and she was fantastic... always had time for you."

Rennie Williams (far left) pictured alongside her fellow Pantglas Junior School teachers, taken prior to the 1966 disaster Credit: Elizabeth Thompson

Mrs Williams continued teaching until she retired, and even after that she continued to work occasionally as a supply teacher.

"She will be missed by everybody that came into contact with her", Paul Williams, Mrs Williams' son, told ITV Wales.

One of nine children, Rennie Williams is survived by her sister Val, her son Paul, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.