A right royal occasion at Coed Ffos Las!
The Princess Royal officially opens Wales’ First World War Centenary wood, Coed Ffos Las.
It’s been four years in the making, with many hundreds of local people including children helping to plant the trees, and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has now formally opened Coed Ffos Las, Wales’ First World War Centenary Wood, in the Gwendraeth Valley in Carmarthenshire. As the Woodland Trust’s (Coed Cadw’s) most recently planted wood in Wales, it’s part of the First World War Centenary Woods project which is helping to plant millions of native trees to commemorate the First World War.
The Princess Royal was joined by around 40 invited guests on 2 July, who saw demonstrations highlighting the hugely important role that woods and trees played in the First World War. There was horse ploughing, greenwood working and a working blacksmith. The 157 Royal Logistics Corp were also present, a company created as a result of the First World War, who have helped plant the trees at Coed Ffos Las and who are proud to have The Princess Royal as their Patron.
Her Royal Highness then formally unveiled a plaque displaying the name of the life-sized War Horse Sculpture which forms a special Commemorative Feature of the site. Created out of Corten steel by the designer Steve Tomlinson, the statue was named Yr Arwr / Hero, after the poem which won Hedd Wyn the Chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod. The name was chosen by Jane Hutt, formerly Leader of the House at the National Assembly for Wales, from ideas suggested in a public competition for names organised last summer in which nearly one hundred people took part.
A beautiful, poignant new woodland with 90,000 native trees
Natalie Buttriss, Director of Wales for the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) said: “I’m delighted to be able to welcome The Princess Royal to Coed Ffos Las. Working with the local community and with the support of our members and sponsors we have created a beautiful, poignant new woodland which incorporates 90,000 native trees. There is also an orchard, bee hives, a pond, an area of woodland which can be coppiced, open areas for enjoying the panoramic views, as well as the amazing war horse sculpture as a commemorative feature.
“Coed Ffos Las is a unique woodland in Wales which we are using to tell the story of wood, woodland, workers and soldiers in the First World War. A huge percentage of Wales’ ancient woodland was felled for a wide range of uses in the Great War. Ammunition cases, vehicle bodies, gun carriages, matches, pit props, even hazel hurdles were used to build the walls of trenches. Wales is, in many ways, still feeling the environmental impact of a war that wreaked havoc on soldiers’ and communities’ lives.”
“The creation of Coed Ffos Las has cost around £1.2m in total. The Woodland Trust is hugely grateful to everyone who supported our fundraising appeal for the site, to our lead partner in the project , Sainsbury’s to Welsh Government’s Plant! initiative and the players of the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund, all of which have generously supported different aspects of the project.”
The First World War Centenary Woods project is supported by the Trust’s lead partner Sainsbury’s helping to plant millions of native trees to commemorate the First World War. Mike Coupe, the company’s CEO said: “We’re pleased to support such a fitting memorial to those affected by the First World War. It’s important to our customers and colleagues, and commemorative to the colleagues who fell during World War One.”
Watch this on TV
Images of the day, taken by our official photographer Terry Morris, and if you’d like to see a report on the event from the Heno programme with subtitles on S4C (a bit like the One Show but in Welsh), then you can watch this