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Residents resume mining aggregate at Richmond Beach

Residents resume mining aggregate at Richmond Beach
A GROUP OF young men loading a truck with aggregate mined from the Richmond Beach

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Story and photos by Robertson Henry

FOR ALMOST FOUR decades, she trekked to the Richmond beach in the wee hours of the morning to mine aggregate, earning enough money to send three of her children to school.

Residents resume mining aggregate at Richmond Beach
CONNIE NASH-EDWARDS has mined aggregate from the Richmond Beach for almost 40 years

She and her husband have built a home, are managing a small grocery shop in Fitz Hughes, and Connie Nash-Edwards is thankful to the Almighty for picking her up despite the many falls she had along the way in her life.

Nash-Edwards told SEARCHLIGHT last Thursday, May 5 at the Richmond beach that “this week is the first time since the eruptions that we have been able to come to the beach and mine.”

When the eruptions began, ash blanketed the whole area, forcing them to survive on assistance from the government, family and friends overseas, and their own resources. Tuesday, May 3 was the day she and a few others resumed the age-old tradition of aggregate mining along the Richmond Beach since the eruptions of La Soufriere volcano, located ominously a few miles to the north.

“I was not able to go to the mountains, nor was able to catch tri-tri, for the eruptions just put a stop to the life that we had up here,” she said. “I love what I do and it is hard work and the blessings of the Almighty that gave me what I have today,” she explained.

“I have fallen many times, but I refuse to give up because I have a family to look after. My children I have to make sure they get help and so today I am proud to be where I am because through the blessings of the ALMIGHTY I got the help I needed.”

Nash-Edwards, who is a few months shy of her 53rd birthday said despite the successes, there are times “I have trouble getting up and even walking in the house.”

The reason she gave is that after many years of being immersed in the cold waters at the mouths of the Richmond and Larakai rivers to catch tri-tri early on many a morning, her joints are beginning to feel the effects.

“I used to walk from my home at about 5:00 in the morning or earlier than that to catch tri-tri. We would be in the cold water very early in the morning and today, my body is paying me back for what I did. But God is good and He will give me the strength to continue doing what I do to earn a living,”a grateful Nash-Edwards said.

Just a few yards to the south of where she was mining aggregates is the Richmond quarry, waiting for additional equipment to commence operations. When asked her thoughts on the establishment of the quarry, Nash-Edwards told SEARCHLIGHT that she has no issues with the quarry.

“I have no issues with it. The Prime Minister has apologised for not talking to us before they started work, so why should I still hurt up my head over something which is good for the community,” she responded.

The Fitz Hughes woman was firm in her opinion that work is needed in North Leeward, “and as you can see the Richmond River is dry and we can only catch tri-tri in certain times. Tri-tri cannot feed everybody in North Leeward, and we need people to bring work into the community.”

Asked if the quarry operations would affect her livelihood of aggregate mining, she responded: “I do not think so. I am sure that the majority of the stone from the quarry will go to government projects and people overseas, so we here on the beach will still be earning a living.”

A few yards away, a group of young men were loading a truck with beach aggregate, and when questioned on the impact of the quarry on the Richmond Beach aggregate mining business, there had mixed reactions.

One said it will because, “I believe that they will sell the stone cheaper than we do here.”

Another said, “I do not believe that and we do have customers.”

The impact on their employment was another factor, with another pointing out, “if the quarry stops us from working, they will have to employ us so we will not lose.”

Connie Nash-Edwards is confident that she would still be able to earn a living mining aggregate on the Richmond Beach with or without the existence of the quarry. She noted, “as with everything in life there will be challenges, but I have been able to cope with all the falls I had in life so I have the faith I will be able to cope with this one.”

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