Tower Regeneration
Land Reclamation, Surface Coal Mining and
Restoration at the Former Tower Colliery Site

Matthew’s Wish of a Lifetime

Friday 27th of May 2016 07:43


Eleven-year-old Matthew Sanigar’s greatest wish to drive the Hirwaun coal train was recently granted by Starlight Children’s Foundation, theUK’s leading wish granting charity for children and young people with serious and terminal illness.


Matthew, from Penywaun, Mid Glamorgan was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder at birth. His condition means that he suffers from complex heart defects, hearing loss, cleft palate, hearing problems and developmental issues. 


Despite this, Matthew is a very happy boy who loves gardening, animals and horse riding. Matthew adores all forms of transport and has hundreds of toy cars and trains, but his favourite trains are the local coal trains which serve the Hirwaun mine. From a young age Matthew looked out everyday for the train to pass by so he could count the carriages.


So when Matthew was referred to Starlight for a wish he knew exactly what he’d ask for… to drive the Hirwaun coal train!


Tower Regeneration Limited, Freightliner Heavy Haul Ltd and RWE Generation UK worked together to help Starlight arrange a magical day that Matthew will never forget.


On the morning of his wish, a very excited Matthew, his mum Shelley, his dad Paul, his Granddad Roger and Granny Joyce were driven to the Tower Surface Mine site near Aberdare.


On arrival at the site Matthew was given a personalised high visibility jacket and huge goody bag from Tower Regeneration Limited. Looking very much the part, Matthew and his family were given a tour of the Tower Surface Mine where they saw the huge mining machines in action and he was given the unique opportunity to help drive the largest!


Matthew was in his element but the best was yet to come; after watching the Hirwaun train being loaded with the final two wagons of coal Matthew was escorted into the cabin with his father and prepared for departure with the Freightliner drivers.


Matthew’s face lit up when the train left and there were tears of joy as his family waved him off.  A welcome party gathered at Aberdare train station to await the arrival of Matthew’s train, including Matthew’s consultant Dr Humphrey Okuonghae and Liaison Health visitor Lynne Estebanez, from Prince Charles Hospital Merthyr Tydfil, as well as Matthew’s teachers and classmates from Caradog Primary School.


Matthew couldn’t believe he had been given the chance to drive the train and was on cloud nine! He arrived on the platform to a loud cheer and another huge bag of gifts from Freightliner Group.


But that wasn’t the end of Matthew’s Starlight Wish! Matthew has always wanted to know where the train he’d so often seen pass his house ends its journey so after lunch he was given a tour of the RWE Aberthaw Power Station, near Barry. Matthew and his family visited the main control room, saw the coal stock grounds and finally watched Matthew’s train unloading its coal. Another large gift bag from RWE rounded off a thrilling and fun packed day for Matthew and his family.


Starlight are immensely grateful for the planning and hard work that was undertaken by Tower Regeneration Limited, Freightliner Heavy Haul Ltd and RWE Generation UK to create such a personalised Wish for Matthew, it really couldn’t have been achieved without their fantastic team work.


Shelley, Matthew’s mum, said, "I can’t thank Starlight enough, we’ve been overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. You’ve made Matthew a very happy boy and it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


"Matthew loved every minute of his wish and everyone made him feel so important. I really can’t explain how much a day like this means to Matthew; it has made his life brighter and we’ll never forget it.”


Tony Shott, Managing Director of Tower Regeneration Limited said, "We are honoured to be involved with Starlight and worked closely with our partners to give Matthew and his family a day he will never forget. We are delighted that we could play a part in helping Matthew fulfil one of his biggest wishes and would like to thank everyone involved for making the day so special. "


David Israel, Commercial Director of Freightliner Heavy Haul, said, "Matthew obviously has a real passion for trains and I am delighted that Freightliner was able to play a part in making Matthew’s wish to ride on our Hirwaun coal train come true.   Working with our partners at RWE and Tower we were able to organise an action packed day for Matthew and I hope that our gift of a replica Freightliner locomotive and coal wagon will invoke fond memories of his experiences.  A big thank you to Starlight Children’s Foundation for giving us the opportunity to be part of Matthew’s special day’’


Richard Little (Aberthaw Station Manager) said "On behalf of all RWE colleagues we were delighted when we were approached by Tower Colliery to facilitate the visit through our contract with Freightliner and to enable Matthew’s special Starlight Wish to drive a train to come true.  We hope he enjoyed the surprise visit to the station where he got to see what happened to the coal at the end of its journey.   We would like to thank Matthew and his family for sharing this day with our team.”


To refer a child for a Starlight Wish or to make a donation to help other children like Matthew please visit







Tower Fund

Tower Fund

Contact Us

Tower Surface Mine, Rhigos Road, Hirwaun, Aberdare, CF44 9UD

01685 810048