This story is by Marius Pugh, aged 9.

The year was 1845, I remember it well. I lived with my grandfather, in a rotting house. Grandfather was a horrid man who sent me to work as a trapper in the Madeley mine. I was nine and my clothes were worn and tattered, my hair, jet black from coal and my cheeks smudged like mud on a toddler’s face.

It was grim being a trapper, all alone with nothing except a candle and if that went out…. blackness! The rock was as hard as a diamond. The air was wet and tight, it made me gasp for breath. It was tough. Howls from miners echoed through the lonely tunnels.

Then one, unforgettable day there was an announcement that some famous British celebrities were coming to visit the mine. I was so excited, it was Charles Darwin, the scientist who had come to search for creatures. Mary Anning, the fossil hunter, looking for fossils. Brunel, the amazing engineer, was there to make the structure of the mine stronger. Finally, a lady no one had heard of then, called Florence Nightingale.

I overheard their conversation of what great things they had achieved. Darwin spoke first in a quiet voice. “I have just been to the Galapagos Islands and have discovered that humans evolved from apes.”

Brunel then arrogantly pronounced, “That’s nothing! I’ve just launched the SS Great Britain, the largest ship made from iron.

Mary Anning, holding her basket declared, “Well I discovered the ichthyosaur.”

Florence Nightingale, who was quite intimidated by these revolutionary heroes, spoke nervously, “God has called me to this place because the workers in this mine need my help when sick and injured. I intend to become a nurse.

Suddenly there was a deafening bang and crash and the cry of, “Gas explosion, get out NOW!” as rocks were rapidly falling down, beginning to smother the mine entrance. All four celebrities fell to their knees with terror, every miner quickly ran for their lives, except for me as I ran to help our visitors. I reckoned that I could save the poor souls trapped and paralysed in fear. None of them were injured, but the gas was becoming more intense. I whispered calmly, “Follow me”, then used all my strength to hack out a large hole. I dived out and pulled the others with me.

Several days later there was a knock at my grandfather’s door, there was a coachman. His smile widening, he told me that I was invited to Buckingham Palace because of my heroism. With the utmost confusion I clambered into the golden carriage, my heart filled with joy. I was given a medal by Queen Victoria and a mansion. Many years later I married your mother and became a teacher of young miners, my favourite was John Farr. And that’s my life children. Now I shall read my newspaper. Oh dear! “What is it Father?” It’s poor John, he has been killed in what they are calling ‘The Nine Men of Madeley Disaster…….’