Prince Charles has carried out a series of engagements in Wales today, celebrating the achievements of The Prince’s Trust, as well as a local community centre and retirement homes.
The Prince of Wales made his first stop at Newport’s Celtic Manor Resort, where he met over 100 beneficiaries and supporters of his eponymous charity. Young entrepreneurs had a chance to show Prince Charles the businesses that they had set up with support of the charity, which was founded by the heir to the throne in 1976.
One beneficiary, Natasha Graves, who created the company nGraves, with the help of the Prince’s Trust, described meeting the future King as ‘magical’, especially while it was snowing.
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) December 8, 2017
The 69-year-old Prince was drinking a cup of tea as he roamed the room, chatting with young people about the challenges that they have managed to overcome.
The Prince’s Trust Cymru has supported over 3,000 people in Wales over the past year alone. The trust runs a variety of training programmes, provides mentoring support and offers financial grants to build the confidence and motivation of disadvantaged young people. Each year the charity helps around 60,000 young people.
The Prince wished the attendees a ‘very happy Christmas’, before heading to his next engagement at the Caerphilly Miners Community Centre. The centre was founded by local residents in 2008, and regularly hosts language classes, cinema clubs, children’s parties and yoga sessions.
Katherine Hughes, project manager at the Miners Centre said, “This place has a rich history. The people of Caerphilly wanted to keep this place because they felt it belonged to them. Back when this place was a hospital many people were born here.
“I’m absolutely thrilled [to welcome Prince Charles]. It will be wonderful to speak with him and show him what we have here.”
Charles was greeted by an array of schoolchildren proudly waving Welsh flags, and spoke with women from an organisation that regularly attend the Community Centre. The Royal also got a glimpse of a range of watercolours and acrylic work, created by members of an art group, based at the centre. He remarked how he enjoyed painting watercolours, especially in the snow.
The Prince complimented members of the group on their work. “That is genius! Fantastic! Brilliantly observed and the sea is a great colour. Waves are so difficult to do,” he said of one coastal piece.
“If he likes it so much he can take it home with him”, was the response from one member.
The Prince of Wales then spoke to Wayne David MP, Hefin David AM, and police and crime commissioner for Gwent Police Jeff Cuthbert about local issues.
Sue Baulch, who often uses the centre, noted how the centre has regular film nights and exercise classes. After conversing with Charles, she said: “He was so charming and down to earth. Very kind! I can’t believe it. I have been up all night excited about this!”
The Prince of Wales meets the children and leaders at the Stay and Play group in Caerphilly… and can’t resist joining in with the fun! 🚘 pic.twitter.com/APz4nYZf0H
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) December 8, 2017
He even joined in playing with the children at the centre’s stay and play group, showing us a touch of what he is like with his own grandchildren.
The heir-to-the-throne’s next stop was Abbey field, where he visited a housing service managed by the charity Abbeyfield, of which he is patron. Both homes that the Prince was celebrating – St Martins and Winston Osborne House – aim to help elderly people living alone to regain their independence and dignity within a family environment.
Abbeyfield Wales Society was formed in 1991, and manages 24 nursing home sites across Wales.
After meeting the owners, the royal guest joined residents, staff and supporters for a Christmas party. Barry Barnaby, the husband of Julie Barnaby who runs the care home, said: “There’s a lot here for the residents. They have their own rooms and their independence still. Julie has put a lot of hard work into what she does here and the residents all love her.”
Mr Barnaby was excited to meet Prince Charles, and said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. He was such a nice guy and he even joked with me. I told him I worked in heating and he said ‘you’re the man to call then!’
“He wasn’t what I was expecting, but then again I didn’t know what I was expecting! He is a really nice down to earth guy. He likes having a joke as well which is great.”
One of the home’s residents, 90-year-old Ms Blanche said: “Ooh it was wonderful. He was a very nice chap and very interactive and talkative.”
She went on to explain how it was not the first time that she had met a member of the Royal Family, and described meeting Her Majesty The Queen: “We met her at Buckingham Palace. She was very lovely too. It was sort of like speaking to your next door neighbour.”
Before he departed, Charles was presented with a box of handmade cards, and was cheered by staff and residents.
Finally, the Prince visited Castell Coch, a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle built above the village of Tongwynlais in South Wales. Charles viewed some of the castle’s restored rooms and learnt about the free Cadw app, which allows users to find augmented reality fairies around the castle.
Erin Lloyd Jones, the app’s project manager said: “He was saying how good it is to get children engaged, to pique their interest.”
The Prince of Wales then spoke to schoolchildren, and met Father Christmas in his sleigh, in the castle’s courtyard. Charles received a sack of presents from Santa Claus for his grandchildren, Prince George, 4 and Princess Charlotte, 2.