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The Prince of Wales visits Bridgend, Newport and Abergavenny

13th December 2013

The Prince of Wales at Prime Cymru

The Prince of Wales at Prime Cymru

Dozens of people whose lives have been changed by a timely injection of Royal charitable donations have come face-to-face with The Prince of Wales.

Bee keepers in west Wales are abuzz with praise for The Prince whose charity has helped fund a vital college to pass on traditional skills. A mid Wales sheep farmer, stunned when he lost one third of his flock to last winter's bitter snowdrifts, highlighted the charitable support he received during the trauma.

The Prince took a day-long pre-Christmas tour to the principality and got a first-hand glimpse of how his charity's work is changing lives. That is certain to continue into 2014 and beyond after The Prince's Countryside Fund (PCF) received a £100,000 boost from local newspaper entrepreneur Sir Ray Tindle.

His Royal Highness began today with a visit to the offices of the Abergavenny Chronicle (Chron) where the heads of six of the Tindle group's local newspapers met him.

Among them was the editor of the Brecon and Radnor Express, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary. He also met staff on the Chron, including former editor Don Chambers, 76, who now writes the paper's nostalgia column.

Next to him was new recruit Stephen Penn, 22, who started at the paper in the summer. "If you hang on long enough you will end up doing the nostalgia column yourself," The Prince quipped.

He then moved on to a marquee set up on the premises where people running rural businesses which have benefited from the PCF were waiting

. Mid Wales farmer Richard Richards and wife Dilys lost 700 sheep from a flock of 2,000 last winter when huge snow drifts cut off their farm for days.

"The only word for it was 'trauma' for us and the sheep," Mr Richards said. He said that the number of pregnant ewes which were lost or aborted due to the conditions represent an accumulated loss of 45,000 sheep.

Speaking about the PCF, he said: "It is knowing that someone is there to help, it's not so much the financial side of things, we are still in difficulty."

Wife Dillys said: "It was a stressful time, still is. It is good to know a group like the PCF was there to listen and give support."

She said the charity had provided them with hay and fodder and support when it was needed.

Paul Eades, 57, praised how the charity had stepped in with financial help for Pembrokeshire Beekeepers Centre at Scolton Manor, Haverfordwest.

He said the centre, which set up several years ago, has started a honey kitchen where the public can watch bee keepers at work. He said the centre had a strategy of encouraging more pollenators and retaining and passing on crucial bee keeping skills. He added: "Basically, without the PCF we could not be where we are now. Its support has been crucial."


The Prince visits Wales

The Prince visits Wales

The Prince continued his tour by Royal train to Newport where he visited the National Trust-run Tredegar House.

The historic house was reopened after a major refurbishment and restoration last year and has since welcomed more than 100,000 visitors. He was greeted by youngsters from Gaer Primary School singing Welsh versions of Christmas songs including Away In A Manger. He was then taken on a tour of the premises and shown where a Royal ancestor, King Charles II, once slept.

In the King's Room, Chris Edmunds, a visitor tour assistant, spoke about to the 1930s when Evan Morgan, the former Lord Tredegar lived there.

The Oxford educated aristocrat was known for his interests in the occult and eccentric parties at the house with guests from London.

The Prince laughed when he heard: "He had a baboon which he kept and released round the house when people were down for the weekend."

While on the tour, The Prince of Wales met five-year-old George Bamford, who is the National Trust's youngest volunteer.

He was there with his father Simon Bamford, 40, who said: "We live locally so it just made sense to get involved with what goes on here.

"I don't think he really George understood the significance of meeting Prince Charles but one day he will understand he met the future king."

Later on the tour The Prince was presented with a home-made Christmas card by Jerome Williams, six, a pupil at Duffryn Infants School.

"He was fabulous," Jerome said after presenting him with a card showing two hand prints made into reindeer. "He said the card was nice. He was brilliant," he added.

The historic house venue also played host today to The Prince's Prime Cymru charity, an initiative for Mature Enterprise in Wales.

Paul Norwood, 49, from the Merthyr Tydfil area, runs a company called The Fly Guy, selling remote control model planes and helicopters at markets across the area.

He was forced to stop working as a landscaper and heavy goods vehicle driver for two years after he was hit by cancer.

Afterwards Prime Cymru was instrumental in helping him set up in business by himself by assigning him a "mentor" to give advice and encouragement.

"A man named Tegwyn Bevan has helped me with everything from book keeping to spreadsheets," Mr Norwood said.

He has now expanded into doing flight demonstrations for potential customers and is also setting up a website for his business.

"The help that I have been given is invaluable. Every time I have phoned Tegwyn, nothing is too much trouble. I would never have been able to set up my business without him."

The Prince's tour concluded with a visit to the Ewenny Priory, outside Bridgend, which is the most complete Norman church in South Wales.

The last time the historic church echoed to the sound of Royal footsteps was 600 years ago - in 1405, when King Henry 1V stayed at the former Benedictine Priory.

A full congregation listened to a series of traditional Christmas songs sung by children from St Brides Major Church in Wales Primary School. Earlier the Archdeacon of Margam and priest-in-charge of Ewenny, Philip Morris, greeted The Prince and gave him a tour of the church, which was built in 1126.