St David’s Day celebrations in Abergavenny took on an extra special significance this year. Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent the 1st of March in Monmouthshire on a visit aimed at highlighting the importance of supporting local producers and the role of agriculture within the Welsh economy.
Following a visit to Pant Farm near Abergavenny, the royal couple received a warm Welsh welcome as they arrived in Abergavenny’s town centre. Children from Cantref Primary School and Monmouthshire County Council’s Flying Start group were lined up outside the historic market hall to greet the royal couple with smiles, song and Welsh flags waving, joining with crowds of locals keen to get a glimpse of the day’s special visitors and wish them “Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!” Pupils Sam and Lucy from Cantref Primary School presented the royal couple with a post of daffodils and Welsh cakes, a fitting gift on St David’s Day.
Inside the Victorian Market Hall, which hosts in the region of 24 stalls at any given time, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent time meeting some of the local producers and hearing their stories first-hand. There has been a market in Abergavenny since medieval times and it has been based at its current site in the Town Hall since the building was completed in 1871. The market is a popular focal point, with fresh local produce, gifts, homewares and even a resident baker that makes Welsh cakes on site. The market has featured within Monmouthshire County Council’s Shop Local campaign which was launched when the covid-19 pandemic arrived in 2020. Throughout the pandemic the market has kept going – with covid-safe measures in place and when restrictions permitted – to keep bringing fresh, local producer to shoppers.
Abergavenny Market’s Manager, Peggy Romer said: “It has been a great opportunity to promote the market in the local community and further afield, and highlight the fantastic local traders, their produce and their stories.”
The Duke and Duchess met some of the many market traders to hear about their stories. Carol Davies and Christine Hughes of Nuth’s Quality Fruit & Veg, which has been trading in Abergavenny Market for 107 years, said: “It was really lovely to see them, they asked us about where we source our produce. Nothing could be better than this, it’s really put Abergavenny on the map.”
Nicky Hurst of Country Fare has been trading in the market for 35 years: “The royal couple asked about our cheeses. The Duchess was particularly interested in the goat cheeses as they had just visited a goat farm. The Duke of Cambridge asked about Welsh cheese and revealed his favourite variety as well – Kaltbach! This visit has been brilliant for the town.”
Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Matthews said: “It has been a real pleasure to be able to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to the market, which is at the heart of the community here in Abergavenny. The opportunity to reinforce the Shop Local message locally and nationally has been much appreciated by everyone involved. I would especially like to thank all the little ones from Cantref Primary School and Flying Start whose enthusiastic greeting brought smiles to the royal couple’s faces.”
The Duke and Duchess’ tour has provided the opportunity to meet with representatives of the wider farming sector as well as those employed within the industry, not just in Wales but across the UK, gain a better understanding of how the agricultural sector underpins so much of the local economy. For Abergavenny’s market traders it was a much appreciated chance to highlight the importance of shopping locally and supporting independent businesses. For residents, visitors and businesses alike, the visit by Their Royal Highnesses provided a day of celebration and excitement that will be remembered for years to come.