Ladies and Gentlemen, I can't thank Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Harry Secombe enough for their great kindness and generosity in agreeing to be here today and for providing us with such a marvellous short, and really too sweet an entertainment. All I can say is that after 25 years they don't look a day older, not quite the same thing which could be said for me, I regret to say! And nor can I believe, frankly, that 25 years have actually passed since I walked in that gate there, in a very young and rather naive condition, and it does seem very strange that all those years should have gone by. What I have discovered today, however, is that the seagulls in Caernarfon Castle in those 25 years have developed an even more deadly accuracy!
Now I did really want to say today, above all else, part from thanking all those who made this event possible, all those people who have helped to provide the food, most of it provided by Taste of Wales, marvellous people who have started interesting enterprises all over Wales, and have contributed greatly, I think, to the economy of this Principality.
But I did really want to emphasise that it hasn't been a question at all, as far as I'm concerned, of celebrating 25 years of me, what I really wanted to do was to provide an opportunity to draw attention, above all else, to Wales. To all the good and true things about Wales, I think it does provide us with a very special opportunity to do just that. But above all, I wanted to pay a particular tribute to all those who have helped, in so many different ways, with my various Trusts and different organisations over the last 25 years throughout Wales.
All I can say is that a great deal has actually gone on behind the scenes that maybe not everyone is aware of. For instance, I went this morning to the Welsh Language Centre at Nant Gwytheyrn, where I had also been about 11 years ago, and in those days it wasn't nearly anything like as developed as it is now, they have done a remarkable job. But my Committee has helped that particular Centre in various ways which I am very proud of, and I hope through that particular assistance we have made a small contribution towards helping further the language, and in particular the culture of Wales. The two are so inextricably linked, I believe.
The other thing is, that I was fascinated to discover the other day that, since 1986, 10 per cent of all the small business start-ups in Wales have been started through my Youth Business Trust. And also through Business in the Community, of which I am President, which works very hard in Wales. We have done a considerable amount of work, for instance, on the Penrhys housing estate in the Rhondda Valley, and I hope I managed to contribute a small amount towards that particular area. I don't need to tell you, because most of you I know are involved here today in so many aspects of voluntary work throughout Wales and in your own communities.
But there is so much voluntary work throughout this country, and especially in the Principality, and what I really wanted to do today was to remind people, and I do think we do need to remind people every now and then, about the remarkable characters who work tirelessly and ceaselessly for and within their own communities throughout Wales. Without them, I think, we would all be very much the poorer. We often take such people entirely for granted and now is an opportunity to show our appreciation of them.
And I also wanted to draw attention to the great strengths of the people of Wales. For instance, why are there so many foreign countries wanting to invest in Wales - there must be something very special, I think, about the character and the ability of the people of this Principality and not just the fact that it is a beautiful country. I think we need to be reminded of the great natural beauties of this country, of its ancient literature, its poetry, and the music which is in the soul of every Welshman, of the fierce tide that Welshness engenders, and to remind ourselves that we are but one generation amongst a multitude, and that we owe it, I believe, to future generations who will care for the land of your fathers to pass on intact these abiding traditions and values which have made Wales what it is.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a very special day for me, and I hope as I say, that we shall be able to have made it a special day for Wales and remembering Wales.