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 climate.cymru.

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: www.peoplescollection.wales/items/1247091

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 / www.LlyfryCofio.cymru.

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.

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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 LlyfryCofio.com.

Book of Remembrance Flyer Cover.png  Book of Remembrance Online

A Future for our Children?

The Wales Africa Health Links Network holds an annual lecture on a topic of interest to those engaged in global health activity in Wales. 

On Tuesday 2nd Of December we could hear Prof. Anthony Costello delivering the lecture on the topic: “A Future for our Children?”. Big issues were discussed during this lecture, such as climate change, human rights, equality, trade markets or sustainability, and how future generations will be affected by all of them If we don’t take action.

We also heard  Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales responding to Prof. Costello’s lecture, talking about the power of collaboration and social movements. Finally we listened to Mme Mpheng Molapo from the Lesotho Ministry of Education giving her perspective and describing the challenges that South Africa is facing regarding climate change.

101 Years of International Volunteering

Our blogs are written by volunteers and contributors to represent a diverse range of views. Opinions expressed in blogs are those of the contributor. 

By Isabel García (ESC Volunteer) 

I truly encourage every young person in Wales and the world to enrol in a volunteering programme, you’re just one decision away from living one of the best experiences of your life. 

On Thursday 4 November I was privileged to attend the virtual Senedd event celebrating 101 Years of International Volunteering. For me, living the volunteer experience at this moment, and at the same time being able to listen other volunteer stories was incredibly enriching.  

I’ve always thought that volunteering is a wonderful experience that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. Not just because you’re helping and contributing with your time and knowledge, but also because you’re making a positive impact on society and especially in local communities.  

During the event, we heard experiences from returning volunteers, current volunteers and host organisations that showcased the diversity of programmes and activities that are in our grasp. Especially impactful, we heard the life-changing story of Joseph Lewis (European Services Volunteer, 2010).  

He’s just an example of how an exchange opportunity can change your life.  In fact, Joseph explained that he comes from a rural area and wasn’t interested at all in formal education. But he learned about UNA Exchange programmes and decided to fly to Tallin, Estonia. Ten years later, he has a post grad degree and now is working in the public sector.  

Not just Joseph, but actually all the people who I talked to about it feel exactly the same way.  

“For me it was international exchange opportunity in Kenya that set me on my life course. 22 years on, I have worked in 5 countries with colleagues from all across the world” 

Susie Ventris-Field, Chief Executive at WCIA

As a solo traveller, you do learn who you really are and how to interact and understand other individuals. In fact, probably one of the highlights would be that you’ll be able to meet people and make lifelong friends that will leave a mark on you forever.  

In my case, this is my first time living abroad alone. Pushing yourself in that way it’s quite brave, and being able to go out of your comfort zone and leave your life behind to start a new one, behaving as a local, makes a big change.  But it was very clear to me, I wanted to quit my job and start from scratch.  

I’ve got already the feeling that I’m experiencing a transformative period of my life and that actually, what I’m living now will have a real impact on my near future, personally and professionally. So, I truly encourage every young person in Wales and the world to enroll in a volunteering programme, you’re just one decision away from living one of the best experiences of your life.  

Climate Roadshows – #WalesClimateWeek

By Cai Davies

On Thursday 4th November I watched as Climate Cymru hosted the first of its regional roadshows. These are online broadcasts of a series of talks from different areas of Wales. The first one came from the Menai Science Park for North Wales with the theme of Clean Energy. Obviously a very exciting and important theme!

Regional Roadshow for Wales portal image (2021)

An introductory short film described how wind from North Wales already powers 420,000 families a year, and the big ambition of North Wales becoming a net exporter of low-carbon electricity. This set the stage for an introduction to various projects that would deliver this ambition.

The talks were by a good range of experts, community members and researchers. As a few examples, the North Wales Economic Ambition Board discussed aiming to raise investments of 1 billion for their growth program to be spread across multiple projects such as clean buses. Jeremy Smith, a power expert, talked about Carbon Capture and Storage and how the national grid has proposed repurposing gas pipes for hydrogen. I thought the idea of reusing existing infrastructure very impressive in its simplicity and therefore accessibility.

The enterprise company Mentor Mon gave a talk about tidal power off North Wales, how it can be very reliable, and that North Wales has rare areas of tidal activity to take advantage of. That concept was expanded upon by a talk about how wind power and tidal power must be aware of other users of the seabed such as marine animals and shipping from the Crown Estate, which also indicated it was preparing to grant more licenses for offshore wind power. I was struck by the statement that tidal power can act as a baseline power, I hadn’t considered that it would be so reliable, but as the expert pointed out, you can predict tides and therefore you can predict the power you get from them.

Welsh Waters presentation on the need for decarbonising the water supply

A panel of scientists gave talks on subjects such as decarbonising the water supply, the use of nuclear reactors’ heat for industrial purposes and making battery storage more sustainable using different materials. They painted a picture of a different, greener future. Often, I struggle with the idea of ‘unknown’ technology being used to reduce emissions, so it was nice to hear these scientists explain in detail how their technology works.

Finally, there was a panel of community members, that gave inspiring examples of communities using green technology, such as placing solar panels on community buildings. I really think the Government should pay attention to these examples of community action and support them, I think as we try to move to a greener world, the role of local communities is critical.

The roadshow was very professional with clear audio, translation from Welsh to English, embedded videos, and question and answer sessions as the talks happened which kept it very engaging. The first of four such roadshows, it was a demonstration of Wales’s ability to become green. The talk is available to watch in the official webpage.  

Overall, the Roadshow gave me a bit more confidence, it was lovely to hear about projects going on in Wales because then it feels more relevant. Global Warming is such a big problem that it can be hard to see the individual details, and now these projects are positive examples I can think about, it’s also inspiring to consider what I could get involved in!

Fairer Futures Changemakers – The world in 2100

Students had the opportunity to learn the skills that will enable them to imagine the world they want to create in 2100.

Delegations from each participating school came on 18 November to represent their country’s views on how to build a better future. The goal was to support young people to take action on different global issues.

Participants developed different resolutions to protect future generations and explored ways to make the world a better place. These are two topics that were discussed during the session:

  1. All individuals will be vegetarian by the year 2030.
  2. All countries must comply with a “Climate Change Protocol” which has strict laws about energy, education and economics.

After this online event, we will support students to take action to make a change for the better in their communities, coming back together on March 9th to share changes made and explore long-term ideas of what the future could be.

Schools for Peace and Global Justice

The last 17th of November, WCIA organised the annual Peace Schools Conference. This year, once again, from an online dimension. With more than 50 schools gathered in a Zoom call, the conference aimed for students to meet and discuss a topic of increasing importance, climate justice.

Ize Adeva on Social Justice
Ize Adava from North Wales Africa Society talking about Social Justice

The morning session started with Ize Adava, member from the North Wales African Society, presenting the topic of climate justice and the impacts that it had on the world’s most vulnerable communities. Later, Tomos Owen, as a refugee integration caseworker in Oasis, joined the discussion, sharing his knowledge and experience on how climate change has impacted the most vulnerable people and become a cause for displacement. Finalising with this introductory session, John Stacey, former country advisor for Amnesty International, made a brief review on the impact that climate change has on human rights.

Later in the day, schools had the option to chose between four different workshops. All ideated with the intention for students and professors to increase their knowledge on each specific given subject dealt in the workshop. These were:

  1. Ellis Brooks, from Quaker Peace and Social Witness, and Phil Gittins, member of World beyond War, shared some ideas on how young people can influence climate justice.
  2. Balwinder Sandhu, member of the Wales delegation for Schools of Sanctuary, taught schools how to become a School of Sanctuary and initiated a discussion on best technics to take action, either as an individual or group.
  3. Dr Sue Lye, educationalist and activist with XR, lead the discussion on how to get our voices heard.
  4. Kevin, from Size of Wales, talked about his experience in COP26 and gave a short overview on which are the next steeps and upcoming challenges for us to act.

Back in the general room, and after a brief summary on what had been talked in each workshop, the morning session concluded.

Sallie Slade from CWMBRAN giving an award to a Level 1 Peace School

In the afternoon, Jane Harries, host of the event, jointly with Sallie Slade gave the honorific award to seven different schools for having reached levels 1, 2, and 3 respectively in the peace schools scheme. Before receiving the award though, each school had the chance to briefly explain their projects and actions as a“Peace school”.

Finally, the conference ended later in the afternoon with some last remarks from the host, thanking schools for their attendance and their work conducted in the interest of peace, human rights and climate justice.

3 countries in partnership teacher training

Teachers from Wales, Nepal and Nigeria came together on 18 November 2021 to develop and deepen their school partnerships.

Participants shared the strengths they bring to partnerships and worked together on tackling challenges.

WCIA Chief Executive and course trainer, Susie Ventris-field, said: “Despite the challenges of COVID, the teachers in these partnerships are inspirational – taking the time to come together, learn more about each other and develop strong, sustainable partnerships. They are also working together to support their pupils to learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The course is delivered as part of the Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme funded by the British Council and UK AID.

Temple83: Launch of ‘Temple Tours’ and ‘Friends’ group – as Anniversary looks to the Future

Reception during a
Scroll right through images of the Temple of Peace

23rd November marks the anniversary of the opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health, on 23rd November 1938 – with this year being a grand old 83rd birthday.

WCIA are celebrating the day with the launch of recently-developed online Temple Tours, as well as a programme of monthly guided tours and Open Doors Days for 2022 – including a couple of days this December for people who would like to explore the Temple prior to the New Year.

The iconic, art deco building designed by Sir Percy Thomas was built as Wales’ memorial to the fallen of WW1, as a ‘peace building, for peacebuilding’ – designed both as a place of pilgrimage, with the WW1 Book of Remembrance at its heart, and to galvanise action for future generations as a headquarters for national bodies tackling the scourges of war and disease. Gifted to the nation by Lord David Davies of Llandinam, a WW1 soldier who committed his life to peacebuilding, the Temple was opened by Minnie James of Dowlais – a mother who had lost 3 sons to WW1, and represented the war-bereaved mothers of Wales and the World. WCIA have recently updated our ‘Peacemakers Feature’ on ‘Minnie James and the Mothers of Peace’.

Monthly guided tours will be offered usually around the 2nd Thursday of each month – see bottom for dates, or download postcard flyer here / below.

Temple Tour Dates 2022

All start at 12.30 lunchtime, unless otherwise stated.

  • Winter 2021: Friday 26th November 2021; Thursday 16th December 2021
  • Spring 2022: Thursdays 13th January, 10th February, 10th March, 7th April,
  • Summer 2022: Thursdays 12th May, 9th June, 14th July, 4th August, 8th September,
  • Autumn 2022: Thursday 13th October, Friday 11th November (Remembrance Day tour), Wednesday 23rd November (Temple’s 84th Anniversary), Thursday 8th December.
Temple Tours postcard

Online Temple Tours

The online ‘Temple Tours’ support visitors to explore the spaces and ‘hidden histories’ of Wales Peace movements, by using their phones / tablets to guide them around the building – or users can ‘visit in spirit’ by following the tour route from the comfort of their own home. Tours take in the Crypt holding Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance; the Hall of Nations; the Council Chamber Library and Temple Archives; Meeting Rooms, and Wales’ National Garden of Peace, as well as many inspiring displays throughout the building, such as Wales’ ‘Timeline of Peacemakers’.

The Temple Tour does not require any special apps; just visit www.TempleTour.Wales to start the route. There is also an online tour (in development) of Wales’ National Garden of Peace, adjacent to the Temple, which guides visitors around the garden’s 50 memorials to Welsh peacemakers and movements.  The apps include links to digitised original archival materials from the Temple’s Collections.

Temple Tours Flyer (download here)
Temple Tours route map in Reception area

‘Friends of the Temple’

In the New Year 2022, it is also planned to launch a new ‘Friends of the Temple of Peace’ group. Over recent decades, WCIA (as the present day successors to the WLNU / Welsh League of Nations Union, for whom the building was constructed) have acted as ‘guardians’ of the building’s heritage and public purpose (under a 999-year lease), whilst the building’s formal ownership has changed hands several times – most recently in 2017 to Cardiff University. However, there are many hundreds more organisations and individuals across Wales with a stake in the Temple and Garden of Peace, and the purpose of the ‘Friends of the Temple’ body will be to bring together and give a voice to those interests, become a recognised channel of consultation for Cardiff University and any other prospective future occupiers, and to coordinate volunteering opportunities and projects relating to the building’s heritage and public accessibility – such as Temple Tours, events, and maintenance of the Peace Garden. Any readers who would like to put their names forward for the launch of ‘Friends of the Temple’ please email walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk.

Such a development is timely, as the next couple of years will feature a series of Peace movement Anniversaries that WCIA will be supporting as a ‘Peace100’ programme (although not all centenaries!):

Peace100 – Anniversaries over 2022-24

  • Spring 2022 – #WLNU100 Centenary of formation of the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU), WCIA’s predecessor
  • May 2022 – #Neges100 Centenary of Youth Message of Peace & Goodwill (Neges Heddwch ac Ewyllys Da), coordinated today by Urdd Gobaith Cymru but formerly by WLNU until 1954
  • May 2022 – #TeachPeace100 Centenary of the Welsh (world) Education Advisory Committee, who developed the world’s first global citizenship curriculum – and provided the foundation model for UNESCO.
  • June 2022 – #UNA75 and #Llangollen75: 75th Anniversary of the post-WW2 establishment of both UNA Wales (the United Nations Association), and the 1st Llangollen International Eisteddfod, in June 1947.
  • Spring 2023 – #WomenPeace100 Centenary of Welsh Women’s Peace Petition campaign of 1923
  • October 2023 – #WCIA50 50th Anniversary of opening of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs in Oct 1973
  • February 2024 – #WomenPeace100 Centenary of Welsh Women’s Peace Tour of America, 1924
  • Others will be marked where possible, resources permitting.
  • A printable PDF / flyer can be downloaded here, or click on RH image

Alaw Primary School bring 1920s Women’s Peace History to life

Alaw Primary School in Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf, are a ‘peace school’ who know how to make history ‘cool’!

Alaw have been using the story behind the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition of 1923 to bring alive subjects across the primary curriculum, as they learned about ‘Annie’s Diary‘ – a journal kept by Annie Hughes-Griffiths, Chair of Wales’ League of Nations Union, recording her ‘peace tour’ of the United States in Spring 1924.

As well as uncovering hidden Histories of Welsh peacemakers, they mapped the journey through Geography, learning about the places, people and environments of Wales and America; used Mathematics skills to work out travel distances and timings (by 1920s transport of boats and steam trains); and Culture & Languages exploring similarities and differences between Welsh, English and American English, as well as native American cultures.

But for this workshop on November 12th, they invited Craig Owen, WCIA’s Heritage Advisor, to bring archives and objects from Wales’ Temple of Peace; and celebrated Welsh children’s author Welsh Meg Elis – who is the grand-daughter of Annie Hughes-Griffiths.

Meg wowed the children by bringing Annie’s suitcase from the trip to America, still emblazoned with her initials ‘A.J.H-G’ – a family heirloom found in the attic – and shared family memories of her grandmother, and father Thomas Elis. But the school were also fascinated to ask Meg about her own role as a peace campaigner, having been one of the many Welsh women who participated in the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp against nuclear weapons in the 1980s, with CND Cymru.

Alaw Primary School - 1920s Women's Peace Day

From the Temple of Peace Archives, Craig brought original documents and photos from the 1920s, and copies of pages of Annie’s Diary so that children could have a go at finding original historical material – just like real historians! They also enjoyed a huge banner of 1920s Peace campaigning achievements; and as an extra special surprise, in recognition of Alaw School’s work on the Peace Petition, they had the opportunity to view the original 1923 Memorial itself – a very special moment.

Through this project and other initiatives, Alaw Primary have been working to become a recognised ‘Peace School’ through WCIA’s Peace Schools Scheme. Today’s workshop is a shining example of children taking the lead in taking action for peace – leaving Craig and Meg hugely inspired by their work. Well done, a diolch!

The children are very keen to advocate for having a statue of Annie created, and for the next part of their ‘peace school’ project they want to learn about different types of memorials – statues, busts, sculptures, bronzes, carvings, blue plaques… – and about how they can lobby Members of Parliament and the Senedd, and official bodies, to see their ideas reach fruition. With the approaching Centenary of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition in 2023-24 – for which WCIA are working with Academi Heddwch, Women’s Archive Wales, Heddwch Nain and others to mark the anniversary – maybe Alaw can lead the way?

Take a few minutes to enjoy Alaw’s starring role in this short film clip about the discovery of ‘Annie’s Diary’ in March 2020. We’re sure you’ll agree these children have all grown up a lot in 2 years!

Remembering for Peace: ‘Turning the Page’ for 11/11 2021

WCIA marked Armistice Day on Thursday 11th November, with a time-honoured tradition of ‘the Turning of the Page’ of Wales’ World War One Book of Remembrance, in the Crypt at the heart of Wales’ Temple of Peace – built as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of WW1, and opened by war-bereaved mothers of Wales and the World.

The tradition was a daily practice from the 1930s to the 1960s, when the Temple of Peace was a place of pilgrimage for relatives and loved ones who would then participate in a ‘pledge to peace’ service in the Temple’s Hall of Nations, directly above the Crypt. But far from being a place of mourning, the symbolism of the Temple was always far more pro-active: to bring together the people of Wales to work for peace and health of future generations: to avert the twin scourges of war and disease.

Today’s ceremony was led by WCIA Heritage Advisor Craig Owen, and attended by a group of visitors to the Temple of Peace who then explored the diversity of names commemorated on just one page – which included women, nurses, volunteers, non-combatants, veterinary and labour corps. The Book of Remembrance is a national treasure ‘encased in Belgian bronze, on a pedastal of French marble’ – materials representative of Flanders’ Fields – and the 1,205 pages were traditionally turned daily. Names would be published in the Western Mail weeks in advance, so that families could undertake the pilgrimage to Cardiff to visit their loved ones’ inscription, and participa`te in a service – often with families of people with whom their loved ones had served. With over 35,000 names commemorated, it would take 4 years for each individual page to come back to display – so these Remembrance Services held great significance to the post-WW1 generation.

The Temple of Peace was opened by Minnie James, a collier’s wife from Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, who had lost her 3 sons in the war. She represented and was accompanied by 24 war-bereaved mothers from across Wales, Britain and League of Nations member states, and was presented with an engraved key by Temple Architect Sir Percy Thomas with which she opened the building on 23 November 1938. WCIA have updated Minnie’s Story for #RemembranceDay2021, which can be viewed at:

Minnie James and the Temple’s ‘Mothers of Peace’

Founded by ex-Soldier and lifelong ‘Peacemonger’ David Davies of Llandinam, the Temple housed two bodies from its inception: the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU) coordinating peace building and internationalist activities, and the Wales National Memorial Association (WNMA) working to eradicate Tuberculosis. Those bodies evolved after WW2 into the United Nations Association and National Health Service; and today their work is continued through WCIA, and the building’s ownership by Cardiff University.

Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance can be searched by visiting www.BookofRemembrance.Wales or www.LlyfryCofio.Cymru, whilst the story behind it is documented at: https://www.wcia.org.uk/blogs/war-and-peace/wwi-book-of-remembrance/

A Hopeful Future

By Amber Demetrius
Murcia Cathedral 2021

“Hope is the thing with feathers”, wrote Emily Dickinson. It was her poem that occurred to me as I caught a feather that had drifted from the tower of Murcia Cathedral (pictured right). The last time I had been outside of my country had been March 2020 and the world was very different. Since that time, the world has locked down for weeks and months, started wearing masks, adapted to online platforms, become afraid of one another, and then started again. Preparing to travel had felt terrifying and new, the world somehow a much larger and more dangerous place, yet here I now was. Thousands of feet below a tower, centuries in the making, looking around at a world I’d thought I’d never see again.

Fear is interesting. It creates that desire to stay home, where we are safe. It whispers to us that the unfamiliar is dangerous: so better to avoid the great wide world, better to hide from the future because we know these will somehow be dark places. Fear tells us that other countries have more corrupt systems, that people from other places are trying to steal our very lives from under us. When I ask people, “what will the future be like?”, the go-to answer for everyone is that we will suffer some sort of world ending calamity be it through climate change, killer viruses or simple greed and corruption. Trauma Psychiatrist Bessle Van Der Kolk says it’s part of being human. We survive by imagining the worst.

Here’s the problem though: fear allows us to survive but hope allows us to thrive. If we listened to fear, we would never have any space for hope.

At this moment, I feel that hope is following me because I see it everywhere. From David Attenborough’s speech at COP26 (“we must use this opportunity to create a more equal world and our motivation should not be fear, but hope.”), to our Changemakers Project debating laws to make things better this November, to our project on imagining a preferred future with partners across Europe; hope and its feathers are calling to me in a world that is trying to wake up after Covid-19. It’s asking what sort of a world we could have if we were all a little braver, a little more willing to take action, a little more willing to thrive.

Lemon Tree

Where I am staying, in Southern Spain, the climate is far kinder than the UK. The sun and temperate rainfall mean that plants thrive here and all around the region, we are surrounded by trees that are bursting with oranges, lemons and pomegranates. I keep thinking that, if this is what plants do when they are given the right conditions, what might it be like if we give those same conditions to people.

I hope to find out.