Campaign to send 50,000 voices from Wales to COP26 launched

A campaign to send 50,000 voices from across Wales to this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow has been launched.
Cardiff, 8 March 2021 – Climate Cymru, a coalition of citizens, civil society and business from across Wales are launching a campaign to gather 50,000 voices from the people of Wales to take to Glasgow in November.

Supporters from across the country will be empowered to add their voice to the Climate Cymru website, to demand strong and meaningful action from leaders on climate change. After adding their voice, supporters are then able to create their own personalised message, that will be taken to this year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow, and to share among their own networks.
The climate and natural emergency threatens Wales’ communities, its ways of life, and the natural world. It’s happening now, and many are already seeing it in their day-to-day lives. Severe flooding, once a rare occurrence, is now an annual event in many of Wales’ communities. Climate change will only make this worse.

World leaders are meeting in Glasgow in November and Climate Cymru are calling on them to make strong and meaningful commitments to protect the Wales we love and to make a better future for all.

Climate Cymru is collecting voices from across Wales, voices that care deeply about Wales, its people, its natural environment, but also crucially the world beyond its borders. The campaign is calling for people from all walks of life to build a diverse movement across political, cultural, religious, demographic and sectoral boundaries.

Using the voices of Wales, the campaign aims to put the onus back on governments and political leaders to show leadership and to make sure efforts of individuals and businesses are backed up by effective policies.
As hosts of COP26, it is especially important for the UK Government to show international leadership to push for strong and meaningful commitments from the international community to combat climate change.
Join the campaign.

Add your voice at

Poppy Stowell-Evans, member of Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales and Climate Cymru Ambassador said:

“As an organisation of youth climate activists, we recognise that climate change will impact every aspect of our lives both internationally and in Wales. Therefore, it must be taken seriously as a global issue.

Climate action is essential to protect the planet and the futures of generations to come. Climate action is a positive step forward for our country and the world and that’s why it’s so important that you use your voice!

“We only have a small window of time to act, Governments should be committing to and taking action to protect the future of the planet before it’s too late.

Susie Ventris-Field, CEO of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and CEO of Climate Cymru said:

“Climate Cymru is a partnership of individuals, businesses and civil society who think it’s vital that diverse voices from Wales are heard at COP26. Everyone involved brings different perspectives but we are united in our call for climate action.
“The Paris Agreement of 2015 was a major step forward in the fight to tackle climate change. We need our leaders to build on this foundation and make strong and meaningful commitments to protect the things we love.”

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales and Climate Cymru Partner said:

“COP26 is our once in a generation opportunity to commit, mobilise and act. Wales has a unique story to share through its unique Well-being of Future Generations Act. COP26 provides us with a platform to share our vision.

“Future generations in Wales and across the world require us to take this moment seriously. A movement for change is growing! As we look to build back better – lets put the green recovery at its heart.”

Remembrance 2020: Visions for Peace and Health

2020 Vision: Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health, built as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of WW1.

Remembrance Weekend 2020, and 11.11 next Wednesday (11th November) – marking 102 years since the 1918 Armistice that ended World War One – will have a very different feel nationwide this year, as Wales’ communities steer carefully amidst the COVID pandemic, and staggered lockdown arrangements across Wales and England.

Most people are encouraged to stand outside their homes for 2 minutes at 11am on November 8th, to mark 2 minutes silence. For the first time, people will be able to join Wales’ National Service of Remembrance in Cathays Park from the safety of home, through Cardiff Council’s Youtube Channel. And communities Wales-wide are remembering the fallen in different ways.

In a cruel nod from history, parallels are stark between this year’s COVID context, and the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic that followed WW1 – which ravaged Wales population from 1918-20, killing 11,400 in Wales, 228k across the UK, and 50-100m globally (even more than the ‘Great War’ itself). Soldiers who had survived the trenches, fell to outbreaks within demobilisation camps, or succumbed having brought the virus home; compounded tragedies that make 2020’s Remembrance Day particularly poignant.

David Davies of Llandinam

It was this sense of double tragedy that inspired the vision of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of World War One. Founder David Davies, who had served in the trenches of World War 1, advocated a monument that would bring together the people of Wales in a collective mission to pursue peace and health for future generations – a mission continued to this day by WCIA and partners.

At the heart of the Temple of Peace sits one of Wales’ national treasures: a Crypt housing Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance. The beautiful, Moroccan leather bound volume with 1,100 pages of vellum parchment, contains a rollcall of 35-40,000 names of the fallen:

WW1 Book of Remembrance Cover
Cover of the WW1 Book of Remembrance

“the men and women of Welsh birth and parentage, and all the men belonging to the regiments of Wales, who gave their lives in the war 1914-1918.”

Cover inscription of the WW1 Book of Remembrance, Temple of Peace Archives

Although for 2020 WCIA are unable to offer our popular Temple Tours (due to the COVID shutdown), we have created – with the support of the National Library of Wales, People’s Collection Wales and National Museums of Wales – a range of online resources that enable people Wales-wide to explore the Book of Remembrance and the story of the Temple of Peace for Remembrance Day from the comfort of your home, computer, tablet or phone.

The easily remembered homepage for the digitised WW1 Book of Remembrance is:

BookofRemembrance.Wales – LlyfryCofio.Cymru

Wales WW1 Book of Remembrance,
on exhibition in 2016 at the Royal
Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle.

Wales’ survivors of WW1 had a vision to overcome the conflicts and ailments that had torn a generation of young men and women from their families and communities – a vision for peace and health for future generations, enshrined in a national memorial that would go on to support the founding of the United Nations and the National Health Service.

As we pause to reflect through Remembrance Weekend this year, it falls to every one of us to reflect on how we ‘use’ remembrance: how we channel our energies towards building peace and health for our current and future generations – to 2020 Vision.

Explore WCIA’s digitised Remembrance resources below.

The 1935 Peace Ballot in Wales

By Rob Laker, History Masters Researcher, Swansea University (student placement with WCIA’s ‘Peace Heritage’ programme).

Download Printable PDF Booklet

The 1935 Peace Ballot was a UK wide poll of Britain’s electorate designed to measure the public’s opinions regarding the key debates in international relations at the time. Despite lacking government sponsorship, the Ballot received extraordinary attention across the United Kingdom – nowhere was engagement higher, however, than in Wales, which quickly came to be recognised as a leading light in the cause of internationalism.

1,025,040 people in Wales voted in the Peace Ballot of 1935… 62.3% of eligible registered voters”

Between the wars, a new form of outward-looking patriotism had become an important part of Welsh national identity, as ordinary people worked actively to create a Wales which existed at the centre of the international community. Local branches of the Welsh League of Nations Union were active in every corner of Wales, running cultural events such as ‘Daffodil Days’ – the since forgotten annual custom of selling daffodils in aid of the League – and coordinating networks of local activists. This pride in their nation’s role in the quest for international harmony manifested itself in Welsh responses to the Peace Ballot, producing an overwhelming endorsement for the cause of internationalism.

The UK Ballot

By the end of 1933 it seemed that the international order was unravelling: the World Disarmament Conference had failed to produce results, Germany had withdrawn from the League of Nations, and the organisation had proved itself unable to resolve the Manchuria Crisis.

Internationalists in Britain, however, were anxious that the government remain committed to the League, and so the League of Nations Union set about organising the Peace Ballot in order to demonstrate the British people’s unwavering commitment to internationalism. Between the end of 1934 and the middle of 1935, half a million volunteers canvassed door to door, collecting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses on five key questions:

1)    Should Great Britain remain a member of the League of Nations?

2)    Are you in favour of all-round reduction of armaments by international agreement?

3)    Are you in favour of an all-round abolition of national military and naval aircraft by international agreement?

4)    Should the manufacture and sale of armaments for private profit be prohibited by international agreement?

5)     Do you consider that, if a nation insists on attacking another, the other nations should combine to compel it to stop –

       a) by economic and non-military measures?

       b) if necessary, military measures?

Credit – Northern Friends’ Peace Board, c/o Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) 

Despite being independently conducted, the Ballot – which received 11.6 million responses nationwide – has been described as Britain’s first referendum, and was highly effective in stimulating engagement with the key issues dominating international politics. The poll did not disappoint its organisers, for the result was an emphatic endorsement of internationalist policies from the British public.

  • An astonishing ninety-seven percent of voters felt that Britain should remain in the League
  • while ninety-four percent believed that it should outlaw the arms trade
Read more

WLNU Postbox in the Temple of Peace today.

The Welsh Case

In Wales, the organisation of the Ballot fell solely on the shoulders of the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU), a challenge which it took up with great enthusiasm. Vast reserves of internationalist sentiment, which permeated every corner of Welsh society, were an important part of interwar society. To believe in Wales was, in this period of salient hope, to actively pursue the cause of peace, thereby locating the Welsh as a ‘force for good’ at the crux of global anxieties.

Google Map of Communities who organised Daffodil Days between 1925-39, collated by Rob Laker for his feature article on Daffodil Days of the WLNU . Zoom, or click on pins, to find individual communities. Further info on local activism can be gleaned from Welsh League of Nations Union reports (digitised by WCIA on People’s Collection Wales).

Lord David Davies of Llandinam  (painted by Sam Morse Brown:  National Museum of Wales collections)  

As a result, Lord David Davies (who co-founded the Welsh League of Nations Union with Rev Gwilym Davies) was determined that Wales should produce a spectacular result in the Ballot which he viewed as the very ‘essence of democracy’.

Drawing upon a committed network of volunteers across Wales, supplemented by an army of canvassers (paid at the personal expense of Lord Davies), WLNU representatives went door to door in nearly every Welsh town and village collecting responses.

The responses proved to be an affirmation of Wales’ internationalist credentials, as over one million adults voted in the Ballot – which at the time, represented 62.3 percent of the Welsh electorate (24 percent higher than the average across Britain as a whole).

As of 6th June 1935, the top twelve constituencies in Great Britain with the highest percentage turnout were all in Wales, in some of which over eighty percent of the total electorate responded to the ballot (RH).

In a few cases, turnout was particularly spectacular. In Llanerfyl (Montgomeryshire), for instance, all 304 of its adult inhabitants responded to the poll, likely a testament to the zeal of local activists.

Turnout was in fact much higher in villages than in large towns across the board, and despite hosting the headquarters of the Welsh League of Nations Union, Cardiff produced some of the lowest turnouts of the poll.

We can interpret this as evidence that the success of the Ballot in Wales rested not just in the League’s popularity, but in the strength of Welsh community activism. It is highly likely that organisers in villages such as Llanerfyl (Montgomery) and Nantlle (Gwynedd) were able to achieve a 100 percent response rate because they operated in a tight-knit community, allowing them to rally support face-to-face, one neighbour at a time, in a way which proved more difficult in larger cities.

It is worth noting, however, that despite the strategy of going door-to-door in their local communities, activists were still able to obtain phenomenal results from many larger towns. In Port Talbot, for example, 82.8 percent of the town’s 27,000 adults voted.

Viewed in this light, the results of the Ballot are a testament to the strength and scale of the local networks upon which the Welsh League of Nations relied upon for support.

The way in which Welsh people voted also reflects the strength of their commitment to internationalism. In fact, just 1.7 percent of voters in Wales wanted to leave the League – around half the national average – while Welsh voters were consistently more often in favour of disarmament.

Wales had proved itself a ‘special case’. As historians such as Helen McCarthy have noted, the League of Nations Union was the largest ‘League themed’ society of any in Europe and easily enjoyed the most popular support. It is not unreasonable then, in light of the disparity between Wales and the rest of Britain in Ballot responses, to conclude that…

“in 1935 the Welsh ‘were the most ardently internationalist nation in Europe’.”

Digitised Wales Peace Ballot Records

This collection draws together leaflets, voting forms, campaigner bulletins, articles and analysis by the Welsh League of Nations Union for the 1935 Peace Ballot - a national canvass of public opinion on Peace in the context of the then-escalating European Arms Race. Although the Peace Ballot was an initiative by the UK League of Nations Union, Wales set out explicitly to 'lead the way' and 'top the polls,' to demonstrate the strength of feeling in favour of peace, 16 years after the end of WW1.

The bulletins gave a detailed breakdown of progress on the Ballot, returns from each county of Wales (with comparisons to England), and analysis / encouragement from key figures in Wales' Peace movements. The bulletins carried motivational 'Opinion Pieces' from leaders of Wales Peace movements, such as Gwilym Davies and David Davies; and in depth analysis of the returns received from constituencies all over Wales

Later bulletins and introduction of 'YMLAEN / ONWARD' newsletter, explore implications of the results for Wales' peace building movements, and impact upon domestic and international political affairs - in particular, the meeting of the 1936 League of Nations in Geneva, which was regarded as a failure on the part of national governments. A poster graphic illustrates the UK-wide results, and Wales' leading place within the polls - with 5 of the top 10 constituency returns being Anglesey, Aberdare, Swansea East, Rhondda West and Merthyr Tydfil.
1935 Peace Ballot – Briefing for Households 1935 Peace Ballot – Canvassers’ Briefing ‘Peace Calls for Plain Answers to Simple Questions’ – 1935 Media Article Bulletin 2, Jan 22 1935 Bulletin 3, Feb 6 1935
Bulletin 4, Mar 9 1935 Bulletin 5, Apr 9 1935 Bulletin 6, June 7 1935 Bulletin 7, Oct 1935: ONWARD YMLAEN / ONWARD Bulletin, May 1936

Outcomes for Britain

The will of the people was unequivocal – Wales and Britain wanted to remain in international circles – what this meant, however, remained open to interpretation.

The organisers of the Ballot presented the result to the prime minister and his cabinet, but it quickly became clear that, due to the binary nature of responses, that the format of the Ballot was a poor vehicle for dictating policy.

‘Remain may have meant remain’, and ‘disarm may have meant disarm’… but the Ballot gave no sense of the scale or manner of which these aims should be pursued.

This left little room for nuance, and instead general opinion was measured without details of its practical implementation. The failure of Ballot organisers to frame the poll’s questions within the myriad complexities of Britain’s international position, made integration of the Ballot’s result into policy making both confusing and impractical – and so the consequences of the Ballot in Britain’s foreign policy are hard to identify.

The Ballot may have failed to significantly influence policy, but the strength of the poll lay in its ability to measure popular opinion. It demonstrated that an overwhelming majority of the population supported Britain’s active involvement in the League of Nations, even if there was no uniform vision of what that involvement should look like.

Across Britain, League of Nations Union branches enjoyed a surge in membership and enthusiasm for the League which, despite the Abyssinia Crisis and the aggression of Hitler, was maintained right up until the outbreak of the Second World War.

UK wide returns against the 5 questions posed by the Peace Ballot.


Outcomes for Wales

WLNU Organiser Rev Gwilym Davies

The Welsh League of Nations Union had a very clear idea of what the result should mean for Wales. For Gwilym Davies (Organiser of the WLNU) the result of the Ballot was ‘the vindication of the democratic right of a free people’ and a demonstration of the ‘notable achievements’ of Wales in the cause for world peace.

In a bulletin on the subject of ‘facing the future’, Davies called for the ‘Welsh million’ to be converted into one hundred thousand new members across Wales. While this roughly eight-fold increase failed to materialise itself,

the WLoNU organisation more than doubled in size, reaching 27,545 paid members by 1937 – the highest at any point in the interwar period.

For Wales, Gwilym Davies published a Constituency by Constituency Analysis of the 1935 Peace Ballot voting returns – which can be viewed on People’s Collection Wales at:

Clearly then, far from being a fleeting spike of interest, the Peace Ballot was the source of revitalisation of Wales’ identity as an international nation.

Furthermore, the setbacks suffered by the League of Nations in the mid and late 1930s – instead of leading to disenchantment – only made people in Wales more determined that the principles they had committed to in the Peace Ballot should be upheld. This wave of enthusiasm for peace through internationalism was carried right through to the outbreak of war in 1939 and beyond, later providing the support structures and the much of the personnel for the creation of the United Nations.

One such example is Gwilym Davies himself, Director and co-founder of the WLNU, who not only became president of the Welsh National Council of the United Nations Association, but is considered to be a key architect in the creation of world education & scientific body UNESCO.

Temple of Peace: Headquarters befitting a ‘Booming’ Movement

One of the most striking and longstanding results of the Peace Ballot in Wales is the Temple of Peace and Health, which was opened in Cardiff in 1938.

Envisioned by Lord Davies as ‘a memorial to those gallant men from all nations who gave their lives in the war that was to end war’, construction of the building was started in 1937 at a time when the organisation was rapidly expanding.

'A New Mecca'

Account from the Opening Ceremony, ‘A New Mecca’, from the Temple of Peace Archives

It was felt that, in light of the precarious international situation, it was more important than ever for Welsh internationalism to have a headquarters which suitably reflected its growing influence. Thus rose the Temple – a bastion of peace, intended to make good the sacrifice of those who fell in the ‘war that was to end war’.

Today the Temple of Peace still stands – an enduring legacy of the Ballot’s success. The organisations it now houses continue to work in the spirit of the Ballot’s organisers, inheriting the desire that Wales should be at the centre of the international community.

The WCIA – Welsh Centre for International Affairs, founded in 1973, is the modern iteration (the ‘grand daughter’, via UNA Wales) of the Welsh League of Nations Union. WCIA continue the work and vision of WLNU, and the million Welsh people who voted in the 1935 Peace Ballot, to build a better, more peaceful world.

WCIA, like their predecessors, believe that Wales is a nation which can create real and lasting change in the wider world. It is for this proud tradition – driven by the dedication and commitment of local people across Wales – that the galvanising effects of the Peace Ballot should be remembered today.

Blog article and research by WCIA Research Intern Rob Laker, on placement with Wales for Peace from Swansea University History Dept over Summer 2019 with ongoing research through 2020. Drawing on materials from the National Library of Wales and Temple of Peace Archives; and Annual Reports of the Welsh League of Nations Union 1922-45 on People’s Collection Wales, digitised by WCIA (with support of Swansea doctoral student Stuart Booker) for open access research. Final edit by Craig Owen, Wales for Peace.

Rob Laker, WCIA Archives Intern

Global Perspectives on COVID Pandemic: Solidarity, Community and Cooperation

Published on 25th March, in a fast changing international situation.

As the COVID Pandemic of 2020 has reached ‘lockdown’ for the UK and many other nations, the need for our communities – and community of nations – to work together has never been greater. Wales and the World are inextricably linked through global health: pandemics know no borders – and information is international. In an age of social media we are intertwined, and interdependent; we are Humankind.
Kindness, compassion and clarity will help us to face this world crisis, and support the most vulnerable, through cooperation and humanity – from the local to the global. Over coming weeks, WCIA will be sharing (via WCIA’s website, Twitter and Facebook feeds) ‘stories of solidarity’, links to reliable information / updates, and examples of inspiring civil society, individuals and community leadership from around the world.

View WCIA’s ‘Global Perspectives’ Blogs


Wales amidst a Global Health Crisis

Wales and Welsh communities must do all we can within a crisis of global proportions – and requiring global solutions. Summarised below are quick links to key sources of information and updates from around the world; ways that people can take action in local to global solidarity; learning from our heritage; and stories of solidarity from individuals around the world.

Quick References and Information Sources

UK & Welsh Government, NHS and Voluntary Sector

Global Health Bodies & Cooperation

Reference Resources and Useful Articles

temple of peaceWCIA and the Temple of Peace & Health

As with all venues and workplaces, the Temple of Peace is closed throughout the shutdown period and WCIA staff have been working from home since Monday 16th March (though as with many in this challenging time, our capacity is limited).

  • Venue bookings, and all WCIA events, have been postponed until the COVID situation becomes safer.
  • WCIA are sharing Stories of Solidarity (see below) from around the world; and useful resources (such as home learning and means to take action) via WCIA’s Twitter and Facebook social media feeds.
  • WCIA are supporting international volunteers on placements through UNA Exchange to self-isolate if in UK, and to find passages to their home countries where possible / appropriate.
  • Hub Cymru Africa and the Wales Africa Health Links Network are offering guidance to local linking organisations and charities supporting or whose work is affected by COVID.

Internationalism in Action: Taking a Global Stand

How are internationally-minded individuals in Wales able to contribute to understanding and combating the COVID crisis in any way… on top of looking after themselves and their loved ones in a lockdown? WCIA will be gathering and sharing actions and ideas of people Wales and world-wide via our social media channels, and here:

Community Action

Gemma from Hong Kong shares her experiences of COVID in WCIA’s Global Perspectives blog.

Global Learning

Global Action

Global Partnerships

Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity

Campaigner Glenda Fryer with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose leadership has been praised worldwide, shared her feelings as Kiwis entered a month long lock-down.

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

Personal ‘Stories of Solidarity’ from across the world, mapped.

Learning from the Past: Heritage of Cooperation

Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire – Canadian War Graves from 1918-19 Spanish Flu Epidemic (Geograph)

Not since the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic of 1918-1920, has the world experienced something of the scale the world is facing today in COVID19. Affecting as many lives globally as World War 1 itself, “Spanish flu” (so called, ironically, as Spain was the only WW1 nation that allowed uncensored reporting on it to save lives), ended up infecting 500 million – of whom 17-100 million died, making it the world’s worst epidemic since the ‘Black Death’ Plague of 1331-1353. In Wales, between 8,700 and 11,400 people are thought to have died.

Alongside Tuberculosis, the combined impact of World War One and Spanish Flu inspired the creation of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health – home to WCIA today, and opened in 1938 as a beacon for the nation’s efforts to end the scourge of tuberculosis, and secure sustainable peace through global cooperation – initally through the work of the WNMA (Wales National Memorial Association for Eradication of Tuberculosis) and WLNU (Welsh League of Nations Union).

After World War 2, these movements evolved to support creation of the NHS (National Health Service) and the United Nations – two of humanity’s greatest achievements in facilitating cooperation for the common good. In the words of the Temple’s founder, David Davies:

“A ‘Temple of Peace’ is not of bricks and mortar: It is the spirit of man. It is the compact between every man, woman and child, to build a better world.”  

Has a generation taken our grandparents’ inheritance for granted? Over recent decades, support for and resourcing of these ‘institutions of humankind’ has fallen, health services and social care have suffered strident Austerity cuts, and many nations – the UK and US in particular – have turned inwards and away from the very bodies that enable international cooperation in times of crisis.

The COVID Pandemic will seriously test – and potentially reverse – many of these policy approaches. Working in global cooperation and solidarity with others, we will owe it to a generation who lose their lives, to come through this crisis to build a better world.


Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford addresses the nation on 23 March.  

The Story of Wales’ Book of Remembrance

Download Printable PDF Booklet   View / Search the WW1 Book of Remembrance

Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health, home of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and the HLF-funded ‘Wales for Peace’ project, was built as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of World War One – a memorial that would inspire future generations to learn from the conflicts of the past, to chart Wales’ role in the world, and to work towards peace.

November 2018 marked #WW100, a century since the world said ‘Never Again’ to conflict – as Armistice Bells tolled on 4 years that had wiped out a generation.  A nation in agony of grief and mourning, Wales braced to rebuild – and to build a better world.

CaernarfonPoppies4-1200x900 Red White WfP Poppies

100 years later, the red poppies of military remembrance – as well as the white poppies for peace, black poppies for BAME communities, and purple poppies for animals lost in war – all mark the minute’s silence at 11am on 11.11, poppies for people of all perspectives.

But for #WW100, our poppies of all colours also remember those who have fallen and been left behind by a century of conflicts since – WW2, Spain, Korea, Colonial Wars, the Cold War, Vietnam, Falklands, Gulf, Balkans, War on Terror, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria… What has the world learned from Remembrance? Do today’s annual ceremonies just glorify war… or to prevent it? In the words of Temple of Peace founder and WW1 soldier David Davies:

“in the silent moments of our remembrance… the dearest friends of our youth… would become restive at the thought of what we -who now know what war means – are now doing, to save their dear ones from a similar fate. They say: “What are YOU doing about it? Is it to be nothing… but the laying of wreaths and blowing of last posts?”

David Davies, Royal Welch Fusiliers ‘survivors reunion’, Llandinam, 4th August 1937

Davies Family of Llandinam

The Davies Family of Llandinam

Differing attitudes to confronting conflict are not new. Through WW1, the Davies family of Llandinam in Powys would have had dinner table debates that represented the cross-section of society. Grandchildren of the Welsh industrialist David Davies:

Book of Remembrance Cover

Creation of the Book of Remembrance

In the early 1920s, as families grappled with the Aftermath of WW1 and their loss, memorials sprang up Wales-wide. A Welsh National War Memorial was proposed for Alexandra Gardens in Cathays Park. The 35-40,000 names of Wales’ fallen were to be inscribed in a beautiful Book – Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance – that would become a work of art, a national treasure and a place of pilgrimage.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 17.59.26 Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 17.59.43

The Book is the work of world-renowned calligrapher Graily Hewitt, working closely it is thought with the Davies sisters and their Gregynog Press artists. A great nationwide effort was made to gather the names of the fallen; and a team of women in Midhurst, Sussex worked over several years to complete the Book.

The Davies sisters and the Gregynog Press had a mission to create books of high art and beauty. Bound in Moroccan Leather, with Indian Ink and Gold Leaf on pages of Vellum, the fine illumination techniques were a revival of Mediaeval skills.

View Flickr Album of the Book of Remembrance in the Temple of Peace

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.11.30 1917 Caernarfon RfP Book of Remembrance Hedd Wyn - Ellis Evans closeup 1

“this Book of Souls, reposed upon a stone of French Marble, encased in Belgian Bronze, illuminated individually, painstakingly by hand in Indian Ink and the finest Gold Leaf upon handcrafted Vellum… bound in a volume of Moroccan Leather, entombed in a sanctuary of Portland Stone and Greek collonades. It seemed as if the whole Empire were as one in the creation of this memorial to those whose loss must live forever.” 

1928_Welsh_National_War_Memorial Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.16.05

The 1,205 pages of 35,000 names were completed in March 1928; and the Book was signed, on 12 June 1928, by Edward Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII – on a page emblazoned ‘Er Cof’ – In Memory. It was formally unveiled to the public on 11.11, 1928 – the 10th Anniversary of the Armistice – at the opening of Wales’ National War Memorial in Alexandra Gardens, Cardiff. For the first decade, the Book was held at the National Museum of Wales. But its creation had inspired a greater mission.

Wales’ Peacebuilding movements had been particularly active through the 1920s on the international stage. Lord David Davies had a vision that Wales should lead the world in the realisation of Peace, enshrined in bricks and mortar – by building the first in what was hoped would be a string of ‘Temple’s of Peace’ around the world.

1930 Temple proposed cross-sections

A Temple of Peace

Leading architects were invited to design a building that would both hold the Book of Remembrance, and inspire future generations – and in 1929, Cardiff architect Percy Thomas was commissioned to design Wales’ Temple of Peace, on land given by Cardiff Corporation. After a slow start during the Great Depression, in 1934 Lord Davies gave £60,000 of his own money to get the project off the ground.

1937 Foundation stone ceremony 1938 Temple from Cathays Park.jpg

In April 1937, the Foundation Stone was laid to great ceremony in Cathays Park, Cardiff, by Lord Halifax – one of the leading ‘peace politicians’ of the time. But the late 1930s were troubled times; the post-WW1 ‘Peace Reparations’ that had crippled Germany, had led Hitler to power – and Lord Halifax, working hard to avoid war at all costs, would go down in history as an ‘appeaser’ (although this is a perhaps unfair and simplistic view of his peace building attempts). But even as the Temple was under construction, sandbags and bomb shelters were being constructed on the streets either side.

“A New Mecca – the Opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health” Blog Piece by Dr. Emma West for the ‘Being Human Festival’.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.14 1938 Crowds for Opening of Temple of Peace

In Nov 1938, the Temple of Peace was opened by ‘Mother of Wales’ Minnie James from Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, who had lost 3 sons in WW1 – representing the bereaved mothers of Wales. She was accompanied by representatives of mothers from across Britain and the Empire, identified through the British Legion and local Press campaigns. The Temple sought to champion equality from the outset – although the opening ceremony was very much ‘of its time’, as the women were not able to write their own speeches.

The inclement weather of the opening day, and the umbrellas of the massive crowds assembled to watch, were a poignant reminder that storm clouds loomed over Europe. It would be only months later that WW2 finally broke out.

View Video of Press Cuttings from the 1938 Opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace

Screenshot 2018-11-08 at 17.37.27 Screenshot 2018-11-08 at 17.55.18.png

“We will Remember Them” by BBC’s Huw Edwards, Nov 2018, featured 3 minutes on the Temple of Peace and Book of Remembrance (from 38.30)

A Place of Pilgrimage

Despite the outbreak of WW2, the Temple of Peace became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over Wales. In an era when travelling to France, Belgium or even further afield was beyond the reach of most working people, community groups and schools Wales-wide would organise ‘pilgrimages’ to visit the Book of Remembrance. These visits were often promoted extensively in local newspapers.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 19.50.03.png The Crypt in 1938

At 11am every morning, a page of the Book would be turned – the names announced in the press the week beforehand, so that relatives could come to witness the ceremony as their loved ones were spotlighted. Visitors would take part in a beautiful, solemn yet forward looking Service of Remembrance, compiled by the Davies Sisters of Gregynog – and would sign a visitors book pledging their allegiance to pursuit of peace.

After WW2 another generation of Welsh men and women had fallen; and a WW2 Book of Remembrance was commissioned. Though intended to reside alongside the WW1 Book, for reasons lost to history it has remained hidden from view and access within the archives of the National Museum of Wales. As recent as 1993, architectural plans were drawn up to adapt the Hall of the Temple of Peace to display both books side by side. But to date, they have never been united, and this remains an aspiration of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) to this day.

As the survivors of the WW1 generation grew older – and as overseas travel has become easier – visitors to the Book of Remembrance grew lesser over the years. The Book, and the Temple, has been visited by such luminaries as Peres de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, in 1984; and Desmond Tutu in 2012. But by 2014, it seemed the Book of Remembrance had been largely… forgotten?

Wales for Peace Exhibition Title Panel A1 Landscape

Remembering for Peace – 2014-18

In 2014, WCIA alongside 10 national partners developed the ‘Wales for Peace’ project, funded by HLF and supported by Cymru’s Cofio / Wales Remembers, which aimed to mark the centenary of WW1 by exploring one big question:

“How, in the 100 years since WW1, had the people of Wales contributed to the search for peace?” 

As guardians of the heritage of the Temple of Peace, WCIA’s project started with making the Book of Remembrance accessible to the public. The aim was to create a travelling exhibition – uniting the Book for the first time with the communities Wales-wide from whom its 35,000 names originated; and to digitise the book, so it could be accessible online to future generations.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.55.45.png

Transcription of the book was launched on Remembrance Day 2015 with an event at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, where Assembly Members were invited to view the book and transcribe the first names. A nationwide call was launched for volunteers, schools and community groups to participate in a ‘Digital act of Remembrance’.

Local workshops, from Snowdonia to Swansea, enabled people to be part of ‘making history’. Schools developed ‘hidden histories’ projects discovering the stories behind the names, an experience that proved deeply moving for many as they connected to people long forgotten.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.55.38.png

Exhibition Tour

The Remembering for Peace Exhibition was launched in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth in January 2016. It has travelled onwards to:

At each exhibition venue, local partners have worked with community groups to draw out diverse local stories, so every exhibition has been different. A Schools Curriculum Pack, ‘Remembering for Peace’ is available on Hwb, and a Hidden Histories Guide for Volunteer Groups has been widely used beyond the Wales for Peace project.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 15.51.16

The Book of Remembrance Online

For Remembrance Day 2017, WCIA and the National Library of Wales were delighted to unveil the completed digital Book of Remembrance and search functionality online at www.BookofRemembrance.Wales /

This is not only a hugely symbolic act of remembrance in itself, but a great credit to over 350 volunteers who contributed towards transcribing the Book to make it accessible for future generations. Their outstanding contribution was recognised when the National Library was bestowed the prestigious Archives Volunteering Award for 2016.

A curious discovery from the digitising process has been the question of ‘how many died’? Most history references – including about the creation of the Book of Remembrance – quote 35,000 as being the number of men and women of Wales who fell in WW1. But just under 40,000 names (39,917) emerged from the transcription data – which suggests Wales’ losses may have been even greater than previously thought.

Soldiers Stories

The undoubted power of the Book of Remembrance is that behind every beautifully illuminated, gilded name, lies a life story – from the famous, to the ordinary, to the comparatively unknown.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.55.23.png

Hedd Wyn (Ellis Humphrey Evans), Welsh poet and peace icon, who died in Passchendaele just days before attaining the crown of the National Eisteddfod. His prize, forever known as the ‘Black Chair’ and his home farm, Yr Ysgwrn, now a place of pilgrimage in Snowdonia for people learning about WW1, Welsh culture and Peace building. His nephew, Gerald Williams, has kept the doors open and Hedd Wyn’s memory alive, and planted the last poppy at Caernarfon Castle for the opening of the 14-18NOW Weeping Window art work in October 2016.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.55.10.pngAlfred Thomas from St David’s was serving in the Merchant Navy when his ship, the S S Memnon, was torpedoed. 100 years later, his granddaughter, Gwenno Watkin, was one of the National Library volunteers transcribing the Book of Remembrance when she suddenly came face to face with his name – and went on to discover more about his loss in WW1.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.57.pngJean Roberts, Eva Davies, Margaret Evans and Jennie Williams were all nurses with the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Corps, who died serving in the field hospitals of France and Belgium. The story of women, war and peace has traditionally been overlooked among ranks of male soldiers – but their stories inspired creation of the Women, War and Peace exhibition, and Women’s Archive Wales’ ‘Women of WW1’ project.

The Beersheba Graves. Eli Lichtenstein is a volunteer in North Wales who grew up in Israel. He was astonished to realise that he recognised many names in the Book of Remembrance from growing up as a child, and discovered that many of the men who fell in the Battle of Beersheba, in former British Palestine, were Royal Welsh Fusiliers from the Llandudno & Bangor area. Read Eli’s Blog Story.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.47.pngDavid Louis Clemetson served with the Pembroke Yeomanry, and is one of many Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Welsh people, as well as those across Britain’s former empire, who lost their lives in WW1. In 2018, for WW100 the Temple of Peace hosted a BAME Remembrance Service, where the Welsh Government for the first time recognised the sacrifices and losses of Wales’ BME communities in successive British wars.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.39.pngEveryone has a personal story. Head of Wales for Peace Craig Owen was moved to discover his own great grandfather, Ally Price’s story, and following a visit to his memorial in Tyne Cot, Belgium, created a short film, “Grandchildren” for his family to find out more about the ‘man behind the name’ from Radnor, Tredegar and Herefordshire.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.31.png

David James from Merthyr Tydfil, who worked in the drawing office at Dowlais Colliery, served with the Welsh Guards until he was killed in action in October 1916. His two brothers also died from WW1 war injuries, as well as two sisters from cholera. Their mother, Minnie James, was chosen to open Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health in Cardiff in 1938 in their memory.

Video – Minnie James opens the Temple of Peace in 1938.

For the WW100 Armistice weekend, the Temple of Peace remembered all those who fell in the ‘war that was to end war’ – as well as those who survived, and gave their all to build peace in the years that followed. Their mission remains as relevant today as ever.

Listen to more:

Explore the Book of Remembrance for yourself, by visiting BookofRemembrance.Wales or

Book of Remembrance Flyer Cover.png  Book of Remembrance Online

Tari Belani – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 has been difficult for so many people across the world. At the beginning of the pandemic, we reached out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We wanted to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. Over a year on from the start of the pandemic, we’re reaching out again…

Originally from Madrid, Santi works in our WCIA Communications team. He has a background in Communications, Latin American Politics, and Spanish teaching. He reached out to Tari Belani, a Spanish national who is currently pursuing her dream of studying an MBA in the USA.

Here’s her story:

“COVID-19 is a word that has been a turning point in many people’s lives, certainly in mine. When the pandemic hit Spain – one of the most affected countries – I was working for one of the largest retailers in Europe. My day-to-day life changed drastically unexpectedly. I went from being in a different place every day, out of the office in the headquarters as I used to be, to being confined home.

“Every citizen had a duty to be able to help in any way they could”

“But the pandemic gave me an opportunity to contribute something to society. In a scenario where healthcare workers were doing their best, every citizen had a duty to be able to help in any way they could. I did that through my company by helping out in their supermarkets – the only thing that remained open along with the pharmacies during the lockdown. I helped with food deliveries in a situation where people were afraid to leave their homes, in the abyss of not knowing what was happening and what would happen next.

“After helping out for a few months doing this work, I was able to return to the project I was doing before. But the return was not the same anymore, and I had time to reflect and understand something that, being obvious, often goes unnoticed: time is a limited resource.

“Even the unthinkable can happen from one day to the next”

“This new situation made me realize that if I had dreams to fulfill it should be now, because if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that even the unthinkable can happen from one day to the next and break with everything planned.

“One of my dreams had always been to get an MBA in the USA so that I could, in the long-term, develop my own business. A business that has a social impact. I took a bold step and left my company, my apartment and my city and made a 360 degree turn in my life. Here I am, applying for that MBA that helps me get one step closer to what I really want to do in life. The pandemic was clearly a problem, but I decided to take it as an opportunity.”

“My Spanish grandmothers got water from the public fountain. Today, I just open the tap”—World Water Day 2021

Written by Santi, our long term ESC Volunteer

Both my Spanish grandmothers had the arduous daily task of collecting water from public fountains in their hometowns. Washing clothes or dishes meant recurrent back-and-forth visits to the local river, where women would gather while doing their chores. I can’t even picture the struggle of this monotonous task, in all seasons, when temperatures rose over 40ºC or dropped below 0ºC.

Women gathered around the well in 1960 (Madrid, Spain)

Today, I can just open the tap and water flows for whatever I want or need – drinking, showering, washing my clothes.

And this doesn’t include the many industrial uses – agriculture, farming, manufacturing and more where we take water for granted.

From my grandmothers seeking water to me opening the tap today, there is just a two-generation gap, but my grandmothers’ reality is still a vivid reality for many people around the world today:

  • 2.2 billion people around the world live without access to safe water.
  • 3 billion people worldwide lack basic handwashing facilities at home, exacerbating the impact of #Covid-19.
  • By 2030, over 700 million people could be displaced due to water scarcity.
  • In contrast, in the UK, 100% of the population have access to drinking water, and 98% have access to a safely managed sanitation service.
  • 74% of water use is in the service sector, with agriculture, forestry and fishing accounting for 14% of the total.
  • In Wales, over 300,000 water tests are analyzed yearly by Welsh Water to meet up to 99.96% of drinking water quality standards.

If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of local, national and global solitary. We have a finite amount of water on the planet and all need to act to look after this precious resource.

World Water Day 2021 is a reminder that over 2 billion people around the world do not have access to safe water, and that we all can act on this global issue. So what can we do?

Action on water

People enjoying Ganges river in India

#WorldWaterDay2021 aims to raise awareness to help us achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation by 2030.

We can start by asking ourselves questions about how we use water and look for ways to approach our own consumption responsibly.

  • How much water do I use?
  • Can I reduce my water use? Welsh Water have a number of tips – there are also tips and resources for children on the Waterwise website
  • What does water mean to me? Do I even think about it while I’m using it? Have I ever been short of water?
  • How do I use water? Does it play a role in my cultural practices?
  • What role will water play in my future and the future of my family?

These questions can help us meet this year’s #WorldWaterday theme – Valuing Water.

If you want to go beyond thinking about your own water use and take action:

  • United Nations World Water Development Report can help you to understand the issues, providing different tools for sustainable water management, offering regional information and personal stories.
  • Act UN allows people to engage on social media in real-time conversations on the way different communities value their water resources.
  • Raise awareness yourself using #WorldWaterDay and #Water2me on your social media channels.

Water in Wales

Llanberis, Snowdonia National Park (Wales, UK)

In Wales, Welsh Government legislates and acts as policy-maker—including directing water companies to publish their plans. Natural Resources Wales‘ role is to protect the environment and ensure security of public water supply through sustainable practices. Welsh Water is a not-profit company and supplies most of the water in Wales.

Find out more:

We’re recruiting!

Would you like to inspire people in Wales to create a fairer and more peaceful world? Apply to join the WCIA team. We’re recruiting for two new roles:

Project Assistant

We’re looking for a Project Assistant who is fluent in Welsh and English. Friendly and approachable, you would be a regular point of contact for those participating in our projects, particularly schools and youth organisations. The project assistant will also support events, both online and face-to-face, so will need to be confident with technology.

Academi Heddwch Coordinator

We’re recruiting for an Academi Heddwch Cymru coordinator. This is an exciting opportunity to coordinate Academi Heddwch’s work programme in its first year and to develop plans, priorities and projects for the longer term.

The successful candidate will be excellent at building and maintaining relationships with diverse stakeholders in Wales and internationally, coordinating events and activities to a high standard and communicating effectively in Welsh and English.

WCIA Team on a staff away day

2021 Wales Schools Digital Debating Championships – Round 2 & 3

As part of the digital 2021 Wales Schools Debating Championship, pupils from various schools participated with incredibly insightful views on socially relevant issues.

Debating and the intersecting skills developed and fortified with it are crucial to Welsh educational curriculum, hence this yearly event that will hopefully encourage students to engage in their communities and beyond, and at the same time increase their confidence when it comes to speak in public.

On March 3rd and 8th, students from Welsh schools participated in the second and third round before the grand final on Tuesday March 16th.

On March 3rd, Daniel from @Olchfaschool took first place in the individual speaker round, whereas Clara & Tom from @cslcardiff won the team debates. Additionally, on March 8th, Nayana @HowellsSchool won the individual speaker round, and Ayesha & Frances also from Howell’s School won this round’s team debate.

Topics discussed included gender equality, political climate action, emigration policies and mental health.

Thank you to WCVA for their funding and ongoing support, which has allowed us to continue running the competition.


International Women’s Day 2021: Countdown to Centenary of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to America

IWD2021 events will be taking place worldwide

International Women’s Day on 8 March has been marked annually as a United Nations Day since 1975 – designated ‘international women’s year‘ – building on a tradition started in March 1911, when the first “International Women’s Day” was started by women in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. In the 100 years since, IWD has been a focal point for celebrating women’s leadership, championing equality and advancing the human rights of women worldwide.

The theme for #IWD2021 in the UK is ‘Choose to Challenge’ – to create a more inclusive world through calling out inequalities. Globally, the COVID-19 Pandemic has projected women to the front line of crisis; and the United Nations is supporting women in leadership to achieve a more equal future beyond covid-19. Given that most people in the UK will be passing IWD2021 still in COVID lockdown, you can take a ‘visual stand by raising a hand’ through social media – by sending your image for the IWD Gallery , tagged #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021.

In Wales, IWD2021 is being marked with a range of online public events, including an IWD2021 panel by Senedd Cymru; Women’s Archive Wales sponsoring BME Reparative Histories lecture; Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales’ schools and youth activites; and live webcast of the UN IWD2021 Commemoration event by UN Women.

Washington, March 1923: Mrs Annie-Jane Hughes Griffiths (chair of the Welsh League of Nations Union) holding the Welsh Women’s Peace Memorial outside the White House, following their meeting with US President Calvin Coolidge; alongside Gladys Thomas, Mary Ellis and Elined Prys. TI Ellis Collections, NLW

WCIA are proud to play an active role in sharing hidden histories of inspiring Welsh women internationalists, leading peace building efforts past, present and future. Perhaps the most incredible story to have emerged over recent years is that of the 1923-24 Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to America – signed by 390,296 women Wales-wide, and presented (alongside American women’s movements) to the President of the United States, calling for the US to lead the League of Nations.

The petition memorial, recently ‘rediscovered’ in the Temple of Peace, has inspired a movement of women’s groups, peace activists, historians and researchers to uncover more about the story. For #IWD2020 , WCIA set up a new homepage to bring together resources on the Women’s Peace Petition, with some short films:

Despite the COVID lockdown, over 2021-22 WCIA volunteers have continued to explore further. Newly digitised albums of Temple Archives materials are now enabling researchers to find local county organisers, press clippings, meeting minutes and other materials. And Heritage Placement Ffion Edwards wrote this blog about her transcription of Annie’s Diary, an account of the Welsh Peace Delegation’s Tour of North America, which proves a fascinating account.

As the centenary of the petition campaign approaches in 2023, WCIA are delighted to be supporting Academi Heddwch in coordinating a Peace Appeal Centenary project across partners including Heddwch Nain Mamgu, Women’s Archive Wales, the National Library for Wales and many others. For readers who would like to get more involved or be put in touch with partner organisations, please email

Choose The World You Want – Embodying Accountability

As part of Fair Trade Fortnight 2021 , WCIA’s online conversation focused on ‘remembering the people not the products’.

Guest speaker Mike Gidney CEO of Fair Trade UK provided an insightful talk on the intersection between Fair Trade and Climate Justice. He started by wondering what should we do next [to reach sustainability] and where are we going from here.

WCIA Chief Exec @susieetsegay introducing the event

Mr. Gidney posed that people seem to think of climate change and Fair Trade as not connected, and the big geopolitical decisions need to focus on people’s interconnection. In discussing the effects of #Covid19 throughout the world, it seems that Fair Trade sales outperformed the market, and that they have increased more than general groceries. This means that people are actively choosing to look for Fair Trade, according to Mr. Gidney.

Despite this connectivity, farmers worldwide are battling with the pandemic and they do not have the safety nets we have [in the UK]. That is indicative of the fact that you cannot have Climate Justice without Social Justice. On this note, Mr. Gidney proceeded by suggesting that there is a systemic underpaying, and [consequently] the Fair Trade movement is all about fair wages. 

Fair Trade UK CEO @fairtrademg

At this point attendees (among which there was Welsh Labour Member of the Senedd for Cardiff Central, Jenny Rathbone) were really intrigued as to how do we go from theory to actions. In other words, how do we build back better? For Mr. Gidney, so many of the policy prescriptions are made by men in suit, but there is an urgent need to address who really know about their land. And that is the smallholders, that are not being considered.

In the Q&A session, Mr. Gidney pointed out that there is currently up to 5,000 Fair Trade products. Coffee, tea, banana, sugar… even gold. He too mentioned education and training as a good means to incentivize resourceful, respectful and effective farming policies whereby we are making the most out of the land, and not toxifying it.

Welsh Labour Member of the Senedd (MS) for Cardiff Central @JennyRathbone

At a personal level, Mr. Gidney admits to be preoccupied by the UK’s cut in international aid, and poses that [this fact] speaks something about the country and our ambitions. He too believes that there are very many across the nations of the UK that want to see us leading the way to international cooperation.  

And for that, we have to work from the bottom up. Farmers need to be organized to face the global biases. 

After this very interesting input on the intersection between Fair Trade and Climate Justice, Mr. Gidney concluded:

“When consuming, try to make it Fair Trade or local. In the end, it’s all about remembering the people before the products.”

#ChooseTheWorldYouWant #WCIAStandsforFairTradeandClimateJustice #FairTradeWales & #FairTradeUK

Written by Santi, our long term ESC Volunteer

Not just about university: Erasmus+ and the lost opportunities for young people in Wales

By Sheila Smith, former Director of UNA Exchange

Like many, I am bewildered at and angry about the UK Government’s decision to leave the Erasmus+ scheme. It has rightly prompted much upset, petition writing and campaigning.

Much of this protest, however, has focused on opportunities for students, ignoring the ‘plus’ in Erasmus+. Whilst the university strand of Erasmus is celebrated, little is known, much less understood, about the value that the PLUS provided to so many disadvantaged young people.

For more than 25 years I worked with young people, youth workers and communities across Wales to access funding and activities under Erasmus+. The ‘PLUS’ created opportunities through youth work, volunteering, group exchanges and apprenticeships. There were also training courses, seminars and job shadowing to support youth workers to develop their skills and capacity to support young people to make the most of these opportunities.

An increasing priority of the PLUS was to reach and engage “young people with fewer opportunities” i.e. those who couldn’t access international programmes without additional support. These included young people with physical disabilities, social and economic disadvantages, low educational attainment, poor mental health and those at risk of isolation.

Additional funding set out to remove the barriers to participation that are faced by far too many young people. It covered travel costs, passports, training and, crucially, time for youth workers to help young people prepare and build confidence.

We worked with hundreds of young people from across Wales, many of whom led chaotic lives. They often had limited family support, had struggled in school, had poor mental and physical health and poor job prospects.

Without exception, low self-esteem was a massive issue. Most believed they had nothing to offer the world, having been told that repeatedly by the system, by family, by their peers. Too often, they were unable to see the many strengths they had and that were clear to us: adaptability, openness, intelligence and, above all, resilience.

Higher education was usually unlikely to feature in their lives, so that part of Erasmus was pretty irrelevant to them. But Erasmus PLUS provided an entirely different prospect: it was the key to open a door to challenging, supported, achievable and life-changing opportunities.

These young people held the same aspirations as their peers – to travel, to make friends, to be useful, to achieve – but lacked the tools to know or reach their goals. Their local environments were often the biggest barrier to moving forward, so a short period of time away from them, where they had no ‘reputation’, allowed them to breathe and to be themselves.

Let me tell you about Kyle.

His mother died when he was young and he had grown up in the care system. I first met him at 19, living in a B&B, unemployed, with no qualifications and on the police radar. But he was being supported by the local youth service. At the first residential training he sat alone at meal times, because sitting at a table to eat with others wasn’t part of his daily life. It had never occurred to me that something so ‘ordinary’ might be a challenge. Fast forward 6 months and Kyle had completed a two-month residential project in France living and working with others – struggling at times but he stayed the course. Six months later he had started a plastering apprenticeship and won a Young Achievers Award for volunteering to support other young people to engage with the youth service.

Or let me tell you about Ashley.

Ashley had struggled with serious mental health problems since childhood. At 17 he was being visited regularly by the police – drugs, petty crime, ASB. He first volunteered in Spain on a two-week environmental project. In his own words this turned his world on its head – he loved the physical work, being outdoors, being with other people. And he was away from the influences that were taking him in a risky direction. He went on to volunteer in Germany for two months and Italy for one year. Every time he returned home, the risk of drifting back to his old ways didn’t disappear but he had the self-belief to change direction. Ashley is now working in landscaping, has two small children. The last time I saw him he said, “If I hadn’t done that, I’d either be dead or in jail now”.

We also created opportunities for young people with similar backgrounds from other European countries to volunteer in Wales. The benefits of the reciprocal nature of Erasmus PLUS cannot be under-estimated. To welcome and support others into our own communities is an important lesson and can inspire our young people and challenge their own perceptions of “home”.

Both this reciprocal model of exchange and the youth work provision are absent from the proposed Turing scheme – the much-lauded replacement for Erasmus.

From the little we know so far, Turing focuses only on higher education. It shows a poor understanding of the years of quality, rigour and development behind Erasmus+. It will do absolutely nothing to support our young people who have already been allowed to fall behind – people like Ashley and Kyle – driving a wedge further between the haves and have-nots.

The decision to leave Erasmus+ is a true injustice, taking opportunities away from young people who need them most. This doesn’t sound much like ‘levelling up’ to me, and it is a decision that must be reversed. It’s the least our young people deserve.

Bill Davies, Founder of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs: A Tribute

By Craig Owen, WCIA / Temple of Peace Heritage Advisor and Curator

Bill Davies (RH) with UK Foreign Secretary Dr David Owen, October 1977,
about to present WCIA’s 4th Anniversary Lecture at the Temple of Peace

William Roch Davies (W.R., widely known as Bill Davies) was the Founding Director of WCIA – the Welsh Centre for International Affairs – from 1973 to 1996. His lifelong involvement with Wales’ Temple of Peace extended from his 1st graduate job in 1962, to the Temple80 Anniversary programme of 2018.

WCIA’s current team are hugely saddened to learn of Bill’s passing on 17 February 2021, and we’ve no doubt supporters Wales-wide will join us in extending our empathies to Bill’s family on his passing – and in celebrating his considerable life achievements.

Bill Davies’ ‘quietly towering’ role in Wales’ International Affairs – and in the story of Wales’ Temple of Peace in particular – has shaped Welsh public and political opinion on internationalism (across all parties) and Wales’ ‘national identity’ in the world, over decades from the 1960s to the 1990s.

In his own Words

In the lead-up to the Temple’s 80th Anniversary celebrations in 2018, Bill shared memories from his years as Founding Director of WCIA with community film maker and interviewer Tracy Pallant, as part of WCIA’s Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Wales for Peace‘ programme. View Temple80 short documentary film here.

“A lot of people were conscious that the war hadn’t long ended… People hoped that some sort of legacy would come from all that suffering. The Temple of Peace inspires a lot of people to do inspirational work.”

Bill Davies, september 2018 – oral history interview (by tracy Pallant) for #temple80

Founding Director of the WCIA

A product of Bridgend Boys’ Grammar School and of Christ’s College, Cambridge, Bill was a talented soccer player who represented Wales as a schoolboy. During his period of National Service in the 1950s he learned Russian, a skill he used to advantage on occasion in his career at the Temple of Peace.

“Bill was… the man who both saved and created a great Welsh Institution.”

David Melding, former WCIA Deputy Director and current Member of the Senedd

Having read Anthropology at Cambridge and returned to Bridgend, Bill was in the right place at the right time when, in September 1962 a ‘West Wales Area Organiser’ was sought for UNA Wales (the United Nations Association), a post funded by the Davies Sisters, Margaret and Gwendoline (siblings of Temple Founder David Davies, who had died in 1944). Bill Davies set to work under the Temple of Peace’s Coordinating Secretary William Arnold – but in April 1963, after 20 years at the helm, he died suddenly, and Bill was ‘catapulted’ into the role of Welsh National Secretary for UNA from September 1963: a somewhat meteoric rise for a recent graduate.

The 1960s was an era of huge change in Wales and the world, reflected in huge changes for institutions, charities and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The organisational structure and set up of the Temple of Peace, as with the wider Welsh ‘international sector’, was a spaghetti bowl of overlapping organisations, committees, sub-committees, councils, advisory groups, campaign groups, etc… But with very limited resources between any of them. In the 1950s, UNA had been the world’s leading post-WW2 body, “stirring the conscience of a new generation” as David Melding (ex WCIA staff / current Member of Senedd) described. But by the 1960s, it was in sharp decline, overtaken by specific issue movements such as CND – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – and with the loss of traditional fundraising mechanisms such as mass membership, community collections and big philanthropic donors. By the mid-1960s Bill Davies recognised that if the concept of a ‘Temple of Peace’ were to not just survive , but be able to support all of the educational, volunteering, campaigning, policy and advocacy work, humanitarian aid and global partnerships that it was taken for granted “someone should do” – then the Temple had to become an institution in its own right.

Bill’s view was widely shared, beyond the bricks and mortar of Memorial Buildings; by the late 1960s, Welsh civil society movements and political figures were openly expressing frustration at the increasingly London-centric machinery of Whitehall and Westminster ‘carving Wales out of the picture’. This was reflected in a resurgence and confidence in the Welsh independence movement, but also in a widespread desire for Wales to have it own distinct voice on world affairs. A campaign was taken up by the Western Mail, signed up to and fronted by the ‘great and the good’ of Wales, the building blocks all quietly being mortared into place by Bill Davies from beneath.

The Opening of WCIA in 1973, by Lady Tweedsmuir (RH) with WCIA President the Hon Edward Davies

“the idea of a Welsh Centre for International Affairs is an exciting and interesting one… it will encourage Welshmen to look beyond the confines of Wales and Britain; to extend their knowledge and understanding of the rest of the world.”

Western Mail ‘UN Day’ Editorial, 24 October 1968

A proposal to form a ‘WCIA’ was formally adopted by a Committee to mark the 25th anniversary of the UN in 1970, set up by the then Secretary of State for Wales, George Thomas MP (later Viscount Tonypandy). Working alongside International Youth Service volunteer and trustee Robert Davies, Bill also spotted an opportunity to work in parallel to bring the United Nations Association’s global volunteering activities to Wales, and develop a ‘youth arm’ to the Centre’s work.

WCIA Director Bill Davies accompanies United Nations Secretary General Perez de Cuellar, viewing the WW1 Book of Remembrance in Wales’ Temple of Peace, 1988.

In 1973, both UNA Exchange and WCIA, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, were launched and officially opened on 11 October 1973 by Priscilla Buchan / Lady Tweedsmuir, then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – with Bill Davies as the WCIA’s Founding Director.

The WCIA under Bill Davies

It is a both unfortunate and fortuitous coincidence of timing, that at the point of Bill’s passing in February 2021 WCIA currently have a team of heritage volunteers and student placements drawing together materials and features exploring the work of WCIA between 1973 and 2010, which will be added to WCIA Archives and Features from here.

As Director of WCIA, Bill Davies wore many hats in driving forward major projects involving ordinary Welsh men and women in international activities. The WCIA’s work under Bill was formally organised into six areas throughout his time at the helm:

  • Public Opinion / Adult Education
  • Schools
  • Youth Sector
  • Humanitarian
  • United Nations
  • Information and Publications

The following organisations / movements were overseen, developed and supported through Bill Davies’ period of tenure, working alongside others, and – despite recent challenges such as post-2010 austerity – their work continues to this day as they have pooled resources or merged in to WCIA.

Bill Davies (LH), WCIA Director 1973-1996; with Stephen Thomas (RH), WCIA Director 1996-2010, share their stories at the ‘Temple of Memories’ Exhibition Launch, Nov 2018

  • WCIA, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, as established by Bill Davies in 1973, remains the ‘core’ Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) continuing the mission and vision of Wales’ Temple of Peace – as founded by David Davies through the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU) in 1920. WCIA is the direct modern-day successor to the WLNU, UNA Wales, and…
  • Freedom from Hunger Campaign in Wales – predecessor to many of the aid agencies that today we take for granted, from 1962 FFHC was a major focus of the Temple’s, work. From 1978, under Bill’s leadership alongside Professor Glyn O Phillips, the Temple became FFHC’s UK / global Headquarters, with Bill and Glyn travelling widely to oversee aid, humanitarian and development projects, from Lesotho to India. Formally wound up / work incorporated into WCIA from 1997; work incorporated into ‘Global Partnerships‘ programme; View history of Wales FFHC campaign.
  • UNICEF Wales – the United Nations Children’s Programme. From 2000 onwards, work incorporated into WCIA’s Global Learning programme.
  • CEWC (Council for Education in World Citizenship) – formally merged with WCIA from 2009, incorporated into ‘Global Learning‘ programme
  • Cyfanfyd (Wales’ Development Education Association) – wound up 2015, work continued by WCIA’s Global Learning programme
  • UNA Wales – formally merged with WCIA from 2014, incorporated into ‘Global Action‘ programme
  • UNA Exchange – formally merged with WCIA from 2020, incorporated into ‘Global Action‘ and ‘Global Partnerships‘ programmes
  • View ‘Short History of UNA Exchange’ here
  • UNA Cardiff Branch and UNA Menai are still active as independent community branches, supported by both UNA UK and the WCIA in Wales. UNA Cardiff hold regular meetings and events in the Temple of Peace.
  • View ‘History of UNA Cardiff’ here

Bill Davies’ Books and Publications

‘The United Nations at 50: The Welsh Contribution’ by Bill Davies

The Temple of Peace & Health, 1938-1998 by Bill Davies

Following his retirement in 1996 – as he ‘handed over leadership to Stephen Thomas to lead WCIA from 1996 to 2010 – Bill turned his hand (and his Cambridge History Graduate’s pen!), to recording the ‘story’ of the Temple of Peace. Between 1995-98 he published 3 books:

WCIA are currently in process of making these available as open-source digital copies, a process started with Bill’s permission and indeed his desire for these to be available to ‘young people of the future’.

Bill also authored a wide range of publications and policy briefings during his time as WCIA Director, coordinating with Wales’ leading minds of the time to create a ‘Thinktank for Welsh Internationalism‘. WCIA also hope to bring these in to the digital sphere within coming months, as a tribute to Bill’s legacy.

Bill Davies in 1977

Tributes to Bill Davies

Bill’s ‘life’s legacy’ will extend far beyond his life. If you would like to forward a tribute for inclusion by the WCIA team, please send to, or with tweets you can tag @wcia_wales. We hope to include tributes in due course in a small display within the Temple of Peace about Bill’s contribution.

WCIA’s Heritage Advisor and Head of ‘Wales for Peace’ Craig Owen commented:

“Bill Davies’ legacy is a whole generation. All of us who care about Wales and the world, probably do so because of something he set up behind the scenes.”

Craig Owen, WCIA Heritage Advisor and Temple of Peace Curator

Susie Ventris-Field
Susie Ventris-Field, WCIA Chief Executive

Susie Ventris-Field, WCIA’s current Chief Executive, added: “Bill leaves a legacy in every Welsh person with an interest in internationalism today. If you learned about global issues at school… If you participated in events or debates on world issues… if you volunteered or did exchanges with young people overseas, or here in Wales… if you’ve been involved in a charity that sends aid from Wales to a particular place or cause that’s important to you… if you expressed an opinion on a conflict or world issue you didn’t feel was right… If you believe Wales and its communities should play a role in the world… Although none of us know it today, Bill created the conditions ‘behind the scenes’ that enable almost all of these things to be a part of Welsh life, discussion and debate now.”

David Melding MS, Member of Senedd for South Wales Central, worked as WCIA’s Deputy Director alongside Bill Davies, and contributed a fitting memoriam which has been referenced in this Tribute (with many thanks from the WCIA team):

Martin Pollard, Learned Society of Wales:

Martin Pollard, LSW

When I joined the WCIA staff team in 2001, I quickly became aware of Bill Davies’ remarkable achievements. Internationalism in Wales has a long history, but to thrive, it needs strong institutions and widespread appeal. Establishing the WCIA gave everyone in Wales an organisation they could relate to, whether as a school pupil, a community member, an activist, an academic or an international development specialist. Taking over as WCIA Chief Executive in 2010, I was acutely aware of the ‘big shoes’ I would be stepping into. I’m grateful that Bill remained involved with the Temple of Peace and the WCIA until his final years; indeed, it gave him great pleasure to walk several miles between his home and the Temple to keep an eye on what we were all up to. He leaves an important legacy for everyone in Wales.

Martin Pollard, Head of the Learned Society for Wales (LSW) and former WCIA Chief Executive 2010-2017

Stephen Thomas, WCIA Director 1996-2010

“Bill was, amongst other things, a pragmatist. He saw that the internationalist work at the Temple of Peace needed a new structure in order for it even to survive, let alone flourish. Hence his dedication to the vision of the WCIA, and to its outreach in drawing so many Welsh civil and governmental bodies into its network. His undoubted fundraising skills led to solid financial foundations; indeed, some of his efforts there bore fruit as legacies to the WCIA long after he had retired.”

Sir Emyr Jones-Parry, former UK Ambassador to the United Nations

“I first heard of Bill in the 1970s, when my mother, a Trustee of the Centre from Carmarthenshire, spoke highly of this well informed lovely man. It was at the start of a great visionary service to internationalism and for Wales. He as much liked as admired and did much to consolidate the wider work of the Centre,  of which he was always a constant supporter.”

Robert Davies, Founder of UNA Exchange and Wales’ National Garden of Peace

“I was privileged to have known Bill as a dear friend, from when he began in the Temple of Peace as Secretary of the Wales United Nations Association, in 1963; then through his period as Director of the WCIA, and into his retirement from 1996. My special interest was volunteering by young people. At the time of the founding of WCIA in 1973, Bill gave huge encouragement to the independent establishment of International Youth Service – what later became known as UNA Exchange – which continues to this day.”

2021 Wales Schools Digital Debating Championships – Round 1

Wales’ top debaters fought for a place in the final of our digital 2021 Wales Schools Debating Championships .

It has been proven that debating empowers students to look critically at evidence presented to them, as well as helping them to confidently speak about their perspectives.

On Friday 12th February, students from Cardiff Sixth Form, Cardiff Academy and Westbourne school in Penarth, took part in heated individual and team debates during round one of the competition.

The first winner of the Individual speaker round was awarded to Zaynab from Cardiff Sixth Form, for her speech on the motion : ‘This house believes that all laws regarding Climate Change should be subject to a referendum.’

Maha & Sylvana also from Cardiff Sixth Form, came first in the teams round. They successfully argued in favour of the motion : ‘This house would financially incentivize paternity leave’.

The next two rounds will take place in March before the semi final and grand final on Tuesday March 16th.

Thank you to WCVA for their funding and ongoing support, which has allowed us to continue running the competition.