Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales
Members may wish to note a significant element of World War One commemoration which took place in Flanders on 16 August.
I was privileged to participate in the service of dedication of the Welsh Memorial at Langemark, near Pilkem Ridge and close to the town of Ieper/ Ypres where so many Welsh men fought and died. The Presiding Officer, the leaders of all parties represented in the National Assembly, Sir Deian Hopkin, the Welsh Government’s advisor on WW1 commemoration, representatives from the armed services and a range of other representatives were also present making this a truly national occasion.
The memorial, designed by artist Lee Odishow, was financed through public subscription and donations and was managed through a collaboration between community groups in Wales and Flanders. The Welsh Government has acted as underwriter to the appeal. In Wales the organising work was led by Peter Carter Jones and I would like to pay tribute to him and his colleagues on the Welsh Memorial in Flanders Campaign Group. I should also like to acknowledge the generous and open support the memorial received from the Flemish Campaign Committee along with the municipal authorities of Langemark-Poelkapelle and the Flanders Government.
The service of dedication was attended by perhaps a thousand people comprising visitors from Wales and the local communities in Flanders. This was probably the largest gathering of Welsh people in the area since the end of World War One.
In the years ahead Wales will be commemorating World War One across various locations, at home and abroad, and through a range of appropriate channels. Flanders and the area around Ieper/ Ypres retains a special significance for Welsh commemoration and I am certain that all Members will be pleased to note that there is a now a fitting and permanent memorial to those who fought and never came home.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should Members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.