Written by Heather Wood.
Photography by Oluwaseyitan Oluwatosin.
Swansea University’s Bay Campus received a royal welcoming today as Prince Charles officially opened the campus. The Prince arrived approximately at 12pm on the 4th of July and was given a warm Welsh welcome by many members of staff and students. In a private room, the Prince was greeted by our Chief Executive Minkesh Sood, our new 2016-2017 Full-time Officers, Professor Richard Davis, Vice Chancellor of Swansea University, David Toman, Chief Executive of the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, Executive Director for St. Modwen, and other partners before touring the Campus.
HRH greeting Minkesh Sood, CEO of Swansea University’s Students’ Union
The Royal party was escorted to the gala concert taking place in the inspiring Great Hall with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Of whom the Prince is a patron of), lead by Sian Edwards, and soprano Elin Manahan Thomas who were all performing. The Prince walked into a standing ovation and the national anthem ringing throughout the hall. Prince Charles then made his way to the stage to deliver a short speech and the unveiled a commemorative plaque and officially gave a Royal opening to the Bay Campus. This, of course must have been a great moment for the Prince as his Foundation has been with the Bay Campus from day one. In a press release by Clarence House, the Prince states that the ‘Foundation for the Building Community is to engage as many people as possible in the process of making communities more sustainable… I very much hope that the staff, students, and businesses who occupy the Bay Campus will be inspired by their surroundings for years to come’.
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, lead by Sian Edwards with soprano Elin Manahan Thomas
Before unveiling the commemorative plaque, the Prince gave a short speech within the Great Hall: ‘Ladies and Gentleman I could not be more delighted and proud to be able to join you today in order to open this new Campus. I must admit that I’m amazed that there’s anybody here at all today when most of the Principality appears to have gone to France.
The plaque unveiled by HRH, Prince Charles
I think we were very lucky indeed to hear the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, of whom I am a patron, and indeed the marvelous soloist who told me she had screamed so loudly in front of the television she nearly lost her voice. As the vice chancellor so kindly mentioned I am enormously proud that my foundation for the community has had some small role to play in the whole planning process and design of this campus. Originally this site which was so contaminated, ex BP site also part of the original Llandarcy site of which my foundation got involved all those years ago and so I’m thrilled to see what a difference can be made just by bringing really contaminated brown field sites back to life again in this particular way. I am so thrilled that it has proved possible to create the campus here which I am sure will be increasingly world class. It has already paid dividends with Swansea’s ratings around the world and many more people will now want to be associated with it and indeed the coeducation of the companies and the academic world will make an amazing difference not only to Wales opportunities but to the whole of the United Kingdom.’
‘Nothing can give me greater pleasure than to unveil this plaque as I know there are several other stages to come may or may not be completed before I finally shuffle off this mortal coil’. The Prince then finished off with his congratulations ‘Wanted to say llongyfarchiadau to all those involved in this remarkable project’.
Next, the Prince was given a tour of the £450-million-pound campus. His tour came to a brief halt as he stopped his party to shake hands and greet a crowd of students who had waited for the Prince outside the Great Hall. Always the gentleman he ensured he spoke to as many students as possible before he was ushered onto the remaining part of his tour. Entering the courtyard of the accommodation blocks he greeted the architects who helped bring the idea of the campus to life and some students who lived in the accommodation on site. The Prince exchanged pleasantries with the students and then moved on. Later the students informed us that he asked them about their lives on campus and about their courses. One of those students was Lauren Burns, a 22-year-old Science Student currently completing her Masters. She commented that the Prince ‘seemed very calm and relaxed throughout their conversation, much more than I was’. Jedd Edwards a Sports Science Student who just finished his final year also commented on his experience with the Prince remarking that ‘He seemed really relaxed and down to earth – which I didn’t expect’.
Students Lauren Burns and Jedd Edwards discussing student life with the Prince
Engineering was then given a Royal greeting as the Prince explored the building and met with different projects taking part within the University, these projects ranged from CWater, Energy Safety Research Institute (ERSI) in Swansea and the Robot department. During the visit, the Prince’s foundation announced its new Master’s in Sustainable Engineering for International Development of which he was greeted by one of the lecturers involved in the new subject.
The Vice Chancellor gave his praise to the Prince as he addressed the Great Hall during the Visit. ‘It’s fitting that from the ashes of a large brown felid of an industrial site a mighty phoenix has arisen. Sincere gratitude to the Prince of Wales for his foresight, this very personal vision which has really started this project and then his interest and support and advice as the project has proceeded. So Thank you Sir’.