Anglesey boosted by Kate and William's arrival
PUBLISHED: 15:14 19 October 2011 | UPDATED: 12:46 16 May 2016
The arrival of newlyweds Kate and William in Anglesey has put the island well and truly on the tourist map WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose well when they set up home on Anglesey. The mountains of Snowdonia, the glorious beaches and the Duke’s short commute to RAF Valley would all have been reasons to do so.
The royal newlyweds also probably knew their arrival on the island would spark a media invasion in the days leading up to their wedding. But they may not have expected that six months later their presence would still be boosting the local economy.
‘Since the wedding there have been far more people coming to see us,’ said Jane Blakey, chair of the Anglesey Tourism Association. ‘They’re travelling from much further afield as well. A big portion of our visitors used to come from Liverpool, Manchester and Cheshire because of the short distance.
‘Now, people are coming from all over the country and internationally. We noticed a remarkable difference. It has put Anglesey on the map. We were ignored and overlooked before but now people are paying attention. It’s about time.’
Jane was a day tripper who came to Anglesey but then never left. She was living in Stockport, working at North Trafford College, when she, her sister Joanna and their husbands decided to up sticks and move to Cemaes. Between them they now run Coed Cottages, in Llanfechell, near Cemaes Bay.
Jane said: ‘We just fell in love with the area. There is a saying that as soon as you go over the bridge, you feel relaxed and I believe this is very true.
‘There are miles of beautiful coastline, there are Areas of outstanding Natural Beauty and the people, the island’s real plus point, are passionate about where they live. Anglesey is a wonderful place.’
Despite the recent media attention, the Anglesey Tourism Association is not resting on its laurels. They have just signed up to a new initiative, including with Isle of Anglesey Council and Visit Wales, to encourage different organisations and groups to work together to promote Wales as a whole. They are also looking at plans to improve the island as a year-round destination and at job prospects and opportunities to nurture young talent that has, in previous years, left the ukisland. Jane said: ‘We have lost out because there haven’t been the opportunities here for our young people. It is up to us to make sure that we give young people a reason to stay here so that we don’t lose any more talent.’
‘The Wylfa Nuclear Power Station is about to be decommissioned and a new nuclear power plant will be built. This development will create several thousand jobs. The build alone is expected to create over 2,000 jobs. This is a lot and could represent a big opportunity for the island.’
One woman who has noticed a big change on Anglesey is Anne Arkle. The 44-year-old, who lives in Llandegfan, has noticed an influx of international visitors to the area since the royal wedding. Anne has been selling jewellery made out of old solid silver spoons and silver sugar tongs she finds on the internet or in antique and charity shops. She also goes metal detecting in pursuit of treasures.
She makes everything from spoon pendants, sugar tong bangles and spoon rings for her business Jaspersparkle. Spoon rings were used in the 16th century by servants who could not afford wedding rings from precious metals. They would steal spoons from the manor house and have them made into wedding rings for their future wives.
Anne, who has previously worked as a manager of staff who supported people with learning difficulties, has made rings for people all over the country. Although she didn’t have a request from Kate for her wedding ring, there have been couples who have commissioned rings for their big days. She also said there has been an increase in interest in her products since Kate and William married.
‘With my work I want to preserve the history and beauty of these incredible pieces of silver flatware,’ said Anne. ‘I think it is the history of the island that people fall in love with too and it has certainly got a reputation as the Royal Island.
‘It’s fantastic to have Kate and William living here and a lot of people are very glad they chose to live here. It has created a lot of interest and this can only be a good thing. They certainly have good taste.’