Friday 14th May 2021
The Prince of Wales will visit BCB International Cardiff – supplier of protective, medical and defence equipment. His Royal Highness will tour the factory and view their full production processes. During the visit The Prince will see Polar survival kits being packed and camouflage nets being cut.
The Prince of Wales will be greeted by the Lord Lieutenant on arrival and the owners of BCB International, Andrew and Janey Howell.
His Royal Highness will visit the Bee C Bee’s Wellbeing garden, which was created as part of a Mental Health Awareness week initiative to provide access to Nature, before touring the production process and the Sales Office. In the factory The Prince will be given an opportunity to pack a Polar survival kit before it heads off on an Artic bound vessel.
In the research and development area, His Royal Highness will take part in a demonstration of camouflage nets being cut. The nets are produced for the British MoD among others and the company has the nets assembled offsite at Prisons across the country. BCB International has a strong relationship with the prison service. They offer inmates the opportunity to learn valuable skills while assisting with the production of some of their items.
The Prince will then move through the warehouse to an outside area where he will watch a demonstration of Fire Dragon fuel. The fuel is an all-weather, eco-friendly and toxin free fuel and is currently being used by the British MoD as their fuel source for their soldiers on expeditions to heat their water and rations and keep them safe.
His Royal Highness will unveil a plaque to officially open the new headquarters of BCB before leaving.
BCB International Cardiff is a family-owned Business and well established designer, manufacturer and supplier of protective, medical and survival equipment to the defence outdoor and marine markets.
The company turned their production to the supply of protective equipment and hand sanitiser in COVID-19.
Upon receiving a bottle of the sanitiser from the company in Lockdown, The Prince accepted Andrew Howell’s invitation to visit their facilities.
BCB dates back to 1854, Dr Browne developed a cough medicine that was distributed to the British troops in the Crimean War, suffering in the trenches. Dr Browne’s Cough Bottle company then became BCB Ltd in 1914. In 1949, BCB Ltd was bought by Deryck Howell, a Cardiff Chemist as a wholesale pharmacy to supply his chemist shops.
Andrew Howell joined his father at BCB Ltd. in 1979 and developed the company into manufacturing the world’s first life raft survival kit. Andrew continued to develop his branch of BCB Ltd., and in 1979 he set up BCB International, to focus on designing and manufacturing survival equipment.
The company’s driving force, CANEI: Continuous and Never-Ending Innovation, sparked an array of unique survival products including shark repellent, first aid kits, ballistic protective underwear, dubbed ‘Blast Boxers’, camouflage cream and floating body armour.
Today, BCB International supplies to mainly government departments (including the MoD, police and MoJ) and blue-chip companies in the defence and marine markets in 52 countries worldwide, with 40% exports. BCB’s retail and humanitarian sectors also continue to grow, building relationships directly with consumers and countries who need to survive in the extremes and when affected by natural disasters.
This year, BCB International’s primary focus shifted to develop life saving equipment in the battle against the Coronavirus, including an anti-bacterial and anti-viral hand sanitiser, among other protective equipment. Dr Browne’s has come out of retirement and is now the leading product in their Anti-COVID range as 80% proof hand sanitiser. BCB has been working 24/7 since March 2020, working closely with the NHS, police and, with governments around the world, suppling them with their essential PPE needs.
The Prince of Wales will visit The Engine House which operates a food bank for the local community and will meet volunteers and staff from the Engine House that co-ordinated this facility. The centre was also one of the first Mass Testing Centres in the country and was used as an exemplar. During the visit, His Royal Highness will meet the military and public sector staff involved in the testing. The centre is used by numerous community groups many of which carried on in some form during the pandemic.
The Prince of Wales will be greeted on arrival by the Lord Lieutenant and David Hughes, the Manager of the Engine House.
His Royal Highness will firstly meet volunteers in the donation room where all food donations are received and packed. The Prince will meet people from the local council and other third party providers who helped to have fed and support the vulnerable in the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil during the pandemic.
His Royal Highness will then meet a small group of young people who will do a brief dance presentation. The dance group use the centre on a weekly basis which has helped support the young people with their wellbeing throughout the pandemic. The Prince will then meet people taking part in a karate lesson before being shown some historic images of the Engine House, including photographs from past royal engagements and a visit by his Grandfather King George V.
His Royal Highness will also meet children from Abercanaid School who take part in ‘Plogging’ which is jogging and litter picking at the same time.
Following this, The Prince will then make his way down to the main hall where he will meet other volunteers of the food bank, Trustees of the Engine House and members of the voluntary sector.
His Royal Highness will then be introduced to the Planning and Operational Team of the Mass Testing facility with a brief demonstration on how the testing was delivered.
At the conclusion of the visit The Prince will unveil a plaque to commemorate his visit.
The Prince of Wales last visited the Engine House in 2006 – when it was saved from demolition and turned into a Community Facility. It has recently undergone further refurbishment.
The local council and volunteers have collected and delivered ten tons of food throughout the County Borough during the COVID crisis.
The Prince of Wales will visit the former Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue where His Royal Highness will learn about the Foundation for Jewish Heritage’s plan to restore the Grade II listed synagogue that stood derelict for years. The Prince will tour the building and meet Trustees and learn of their plans to restore it to a Welsh Jewish heritage and education centre.
The Prince of Wales will be greeted on arrival by Michael Mail, Founder and Chief Executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage. His Royal Highness will also meet conservation architect Ashely Davies (from Cardiff) who is working with the FJH on the restoration of the building.
The Prince will walk around the building and view a small display on the future building plans and images of how the building has and will evolve.
His Royal Highness will be shown one of the stained glass windows that depict the Star of David representing a legacy from the synagogue past.
Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue
The Prince of Wales was invited to view the project by Michael Mail, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage at the Jewish Community Reception, hosted by His Royal Highness at Buckingham Palace in December 2019.
The synagogue is a striking Grade-II-listed Gothic-style building, dating from 1877. It is the oldest synagogue still standing in Wales and is a local landmark. After years of dereliction, the Foundation for Jewish Heritage acquired it and plans to develop it as a heritage and education centre.
The building was used by the local Jewish community, arriving at a time when Merthyr Tydfil was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. There was a Jewish presence in Merthy Tydfil since the 1830s and the synagogue was constructed in the 1870s.
With the economic downturn in Merthyr Tydfil in the 20th century, the Jewish community that was centred around the synagogue declined in numbers. At its peak it numbered around 400 members. The synagogue was sold in 1983. Since that time, it has been used for various purposes most recently as a gym.
Since 2006 the building has been lying empty, its condition deteriorating, its fabric compromised with a gaping hole in the roof and broken windows.
The Foundation proposed adapting the synagogue to serve as a Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre that would present the 250+ year history of the Jewish community of Wales and provide a new cultural venue for Merthyr. Following a Feasibility Study, the Foundation purchased the building in 2019 and has recently carried out urgent repairs.
Foundation for Jewish Heritage
The Foundation for Jewish Heritage was established because there was no organisation working internationally on preserving Jewish heritage; a heritage that faces profound challenges as a result of the great upheavals faced by the Jewish people in the 20th century – vast migrations and the tragedy of the Holocaust – which meant that many centuries-old historic sites became orphaned and, without a community of users, remain to this day in danger in many parts of the world.