Prince Charles visits Wales for engagements for first time since pandemic began
The Prince of Wales carried out engagements in Wales on Tuesday, visiting tourism and healthcare workers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time he’d been in Wales since before the pandemic began.
In Abercynon, Prince Charles visited Edwards Coaches, a tourism-transportation service that has been operational since 1925 with five generations of a family running the business.
Clarence House said that before the pandemic, Edwards Coaches employed around 600 staff members who operated 310 coaches year-round, and they transported more than 40,000 holiday passengers in Wales and Great Britain, and over 6,000 schoolchildren daily due to school transportation contracts.
Since the pandemic, only three of their 310 coaches are now in use, and they support NHS workers for free and essential use. Edwards Coaches has had to furlough many of its staff members and 20 people working in the holiday travel department have been let go.
Also, prior to the pandemic, Edwards Coaches provided support to the Rhondda Cynon Taff council during the February 2020 floods, and helped evacuate 90 houses in the Nantgarw area, with three drivers spending the day moving evacuated homeowners to safety.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Ian Evans, a transportation supervisor with Edwards Coaches, said, “We were part of the evacuation team for the floods, and I was explaining how emotional it was to see the devastation and how rewarding it was also to be part of it and see the whole community pulling together.
“[Prince Charles] asked me how I felt about it and how the emergency services were. I said they were second-to-none.”
Jason Edwards, the managing director of Edwards Coaches, said: “It was such an honour and a privilege for someone like him to come to a small family business from a small community in south Wales. He asked us about the impact of Covid-19. It has been horrendous.
“He did ask about whether we are seeing the possible signs of recovery, which we are starting to see. We’ve had a lot of people wanting to book coach holidays as soon as they can.”
Edwards is also the High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan, according to Clarence House, and he and his family have been “supporting the local community who have been self-isolating or key workers by delivering groceries from the local village pub.”
The Prince of Wales then paid a visit to the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil to thank the frontline healthcare workers for their hard work during the pandemic.
Upon arrival, the Prince met with Chairman of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, Professor Marcus Longley and Medical Director, Dr Nick Lyons. They then introduced Charles to staff members from the medical, nursing and support staff faculties.
“We were delighted to welcome His Royal Highness to Prince Charles Hospital today to recognise the fantastic work of our staff at this hospital at all times, but especially over the past few months of COVID-19 where it has been very difficult,” said Adele Gittoes, the Director of Operations as Merthyr Cynon Locality at the Prince Charles Hospital, in a statement on the hospital’s website.
Sophie Roberts, an Operating Department Practitioner, said: “What an unforgettable and humbling experience was to meet Prince Charles today, I was so shocked by the visit. I feel so much gratitude that the efforts of staff at Prince Charles Hospital and CTM has been recognised not only from others, but royalty themselves. It was an absolute honour.”