As the royal diary picks up again, The Prince of Wales today spent time in South Wales; his last visit to the principality was in February.
Prince Charles visited a travel and holiday business, Edwards Coaches, to see how they had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Their 310 coaches were operating daily until lockdown, working alongside National Express, carrying more than 40,000 holiday passengers, as well as some 6,000 schoolchildren daily. From late March, the company began to run three coaches to support free NHS travel and essential use; they helped link the local community to four local GP surgeries and the hospital.
While business is slowly opening up again, 20 staff have been made redundant, with the next financial year looking bleak.
Edwards Coaches in Abercynon has been a family-run business for five generations, opened in 1925. The current owner is Mike Edwards and the Managing Director is his eldest son, Jason.
Staff helped out in the aftermath of Storm Dennis, helping to ferry people from 90 homes in nearby Nantgarw to safety.
Ian Evans, 35, a transport supervisor, spoke to the Prince about the devastation caused to the town because of the floods. “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,” Mr Evans said.
“He asked me how I felt about it and how the emergency services were. I said they were second-to-none.”
From their fleet of 310 coaches operating daily, the company ran three coaches to support free NHS travel and essential use, linking the local community to four doctor surgeries and the hospital. Edwards Coaches are now pleased to be starting up their services between London and South Wales again.
Managing director Jason Edwards 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 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.”
“We will come back stronger for it, but it has been really tough.”
The Prince then met members of staff from the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil. He was greeted on arrival by the Chairman of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, Professor Marcus Longley and Medical Director, Dr Nick Lyons,
The hospital cares for the 450,000 people living locally across the communities of Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Doctors, nurses, porters and support staff have been on the frontline during the coronavirus crisis and the Royal wanted to thank them for their hard work and dedication. The rain began during this engagement, with the 20 staff standing apart outside the hospital to meet Prince Charles.