Royal visit to Emmaus South Wales community
Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, visited the new Emmaus residential community in Bridgend on Thursday 7 July 2016.
The Duchess, who is Royal Patron of Emmaus UK, was given a tour of the community by Emmaus companion, Andy Bryant, who has lived at Emmaus since February 2009, after being homeless on the streets of London for several weeks. He has recently moved to Emmaus South Wales to help to establish the community and welcome new local companions.
Andy said: “I have met the Duchess once before and I never cease to be amazed by how much she understands Emmaus and what a genuine interest she takes in companions. She was keen to hear all about how we came to live at Emmaus and how the community works. We’re very lucky to have her support.
“Before I came to Emmaus I was living on the streets in London. Being street homeless was the worst experience of my life. Since coming to Emmaus I have rebuilt my life and regained my self-respect. I’m proud to be involved with Emmaus and to be able to help to set up the first community in Wales.”
The community building at Nant Lais is currently home to nine companions, but will eventually offer 24 formerly homeless people a stable home and meaningful work in one of Emmaus South Wales’s seven charity shops.
During a tour of the community, The Duchess had tea with a group of companions and met another group preparing a meal for the community. Companion, Simon Eddowes then showed The Duchess his room: “It was a bit nerve wracking at first but the Duchess immediately put me at ease. She knew a lot about Emmaus and asked me many questions about my time here. It was exciting to meet her. I’ve never met any of the Royal Family before and was surprised at how down to earth she is.”
The visit was topped off with a reception, at which Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque to mark her visit to the community.
Tom Clarke, Director of Emmaus South Wales, said: “It’s really gratifying to see the level of interest that The Duchess takes in Emmaus. Her visit today has been a great reward to all of the people who have worked hard to open this community and a great encouragement to those who continue to build and develop it.”