The Prince of Wales’ Committee
Twenty years ago, just before the end of
1968, an event occurred which was to prove
immensely important for thc burgeoning
environmental movement in Wales.

It was the first move that Wales made to act
upon the European initiative to encourage
conservation and environmental
improvement, called European
Conservation Year 1970.

Four committees were set up in the UK, for
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland. The chairman of the Welsh
Committee was Prince Charles. I was
fortunate to be one of the foundation
members.

That ECY 70 Committee inspired or drove
or cajoled so many of the ordinary people
of Wales to tackle their own environmental
problems instead of sitting back and bleating
for the Government or the council or
somebody else to do it for them, that when
CHY 70 was over, Prince Charles said it had
made such an impact, that it just could not
he disbanded and must continue.

He reformed it as The Prince of Wales'
Committee in 1971, and it has been hard at
work ever since, developing its own brand
of self-help and community enterprise.
Today, the Committee is associated with
projects of environ mental improvement all
over Wales which if carried out
commercially, would cost over LiOm. Tens
of thousands of people, young and old, are
working today on hundreds of projects, and
the cost-effectiveness of the Committee’s
projects is so high that the Welsh
Development Agency, Wales Tourist Board
and the Welsh Office entrust us with over
£300,000 to distribute in grants for the
support of groups and projects of value to
the community. The Committee aims as a
multiplier effect of at least eight to one;
projects of a finished value eight or more
times the level of public money given in
grants.
Ciwyd, or rather, Flintshire, had a special
place in this saga of civic enterprise. The fIrst
and for man years the biggest cooperative
project undertaken by the ECY 70
Committee was the clearing and restoration
of the entire mountain top of Moel
Fammau, where the old Jubilee Tower (See
photographs below) had collapsed into two
acres of tumbled, shattered masonry more
than a century ago.

Brigadier Hugh Mainwaring, the then Lord
Lieutenant of Flintshirc and myself
assembled more than 1000 collaborators and
102 organisations, to tackle the mess on the
mountain top.

Throughout the early spring and summer of
1969 Investiture Year, SO it was a doubly
significant event volunteers and a small
band of professional engineers paid for by
cash collected from well-wishers all over the
county, worked on transporting hundreds
of tons of building materials to the top of
the collapsed tower, replacing the soil and
heather upon it.

Hundreds of sacks of ancient litter were
collected by school pupils for transportation
away to the dump. The stump of the tower
was rebuilt in the form of an observation
platform, and apprentices of de Havilland
now British Aerospace. Broughton
planned and engraved plane tables indicating
the main points visible on the horizon at the
four points of the comapss.

‘When it was finished, Prince Charles came
to see the result, and one of the first Prince
of Wales’ Plaques awarded by His Royal
Highness and the committee was given by
Prince Charles. It is now inset into the stone
work of the tower, but alas sadly defaced by
stone throwing vandals.

This project set the pace for similar projects
all over Wales, but Flintshire and later
Clwvd, maintained their lead and originality
of civic enterprise. It was a Committee group
that kicked off with the Greenfield Valley
project in Holvwell, where again Prince
Charles come to inspect the two acres of civic
park created from the derelict station.
Another group restored the old school at
Northop, with young people playing a
particularly prominant part. A group in
Ruthin converted the old coal yard into a
delightful urban parkiand alongside the river.
A particularly active group in the village of
Halkyn reclaimed the first phase of the lead
mine poisoned landscape on the mountain
top which Prince Charles visited and to
which he awarded another plaque. A
quarrying company, who had helped the
village scheme was so fired with the spirit
of the occasion that it reclaimed the whole
of its entrance valley and won an Award.

In Wrexham, several awards have been given
for outstanding schemes of environmental
improvement by volunteers and thc local
auotv. The Corn mittee does reward
councils and other pubic bodies for such
projects if they are what the Committee calls
‘beyond the call of duty’. It is no good
entering a project for the annual judging if
it is no more that the council would have
done anvwa . It has to he something special.

Last year the Forestry Commission got an
Award for a lovely little picnic spot in
Clocaenog Forest. A few years ago
steelworkers apprentices got one for
rebuilding gold mining machinery form the
Ganllwyd Valley, and other steelworkers
were honoured with an Award for their tern
nesting rafts on the Dee estuary.

Hundreds of Awards have been given, all by
His Royal Highness personally, since 1971,
and tens of thousands of people have shared
in the work and the pleasure and personal
fulfillment of improving their own
environment. Prince Charles himself likes
nothing better than to go out ‘on location’
and see volunteers at work on some
outstanding projects. He makes a point of
coming to Wales usually several times a year
to visit projects. On one occasion he helped
with a project himslef— by airlifting in his
helicopter, an ancient cannon from
Llanddwyn Island to the mainland for
restoration and eventuall return to the
island.

A couple of years ago at a Committee
occasion in Swansea, he said that when
eventually he hands over the chairmanship
of the Committee, he hopes it will be to his
son, so it is clear that the Prince of Wales’
Committee has a long future ahead of it.

And that is all to the good of Wales, for its
score or so of members, themselves working
with groups of volunteers all over Wales, and
guiding the efforts of the Committee’s small
staff of young Project Officers, are helping
to build a new Wales. North Wales hansome
Project Officer, Miss Rhiannon Bentall,
based in the Shire Hall at Mold. Mid Wales
has another, in Newtown, and South Waics
has several spread across the more populous
Glamorgan and Gwent.

Headquarters of the Committee are in
Empire House, Cardiff, under the control
of Mr. David Cox, and a small staff. It has
to he small, for the administration of the
Committee and the salaries and expenses of
the Project Officers, come out of charitable
contributions from people who see the
Committee as the expression of a spirit of
enterprise and civic responsibility that has
gone on ever since 1968, building a lovlier
Wales to live in and a better Wales to find
work in.

By Charles Quant
Chairman
North Wales Group