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St David's Day: Prince slips in some Welsh as he honours Terfel and Gerald Davies.

Byline: RHODRI OWEN

ST DAVID'S Day came a day early for two of Wales's most famous sons yesterday when they collected New Year's honours from the Prince of Wales at an investiture in Cardiff.

Opera star Bryn Terfel arrived at the dais hot on the heels of rugby legend Gerald Davies to receive a CBE from the Prince - and joked afterwards that he'd been half-expecting a spin pass from the former Wales and British Lions winger.

``It was wonderful to be there with all the Welsh people,'' said Terfel, whose honour was awarded for services to opera. ``It's fantastic that it's in Cardiff. ``It was brilliant just to be behind Gerald Davies - and I was expecting a ball from him any time.

``It's been great to see all the different people being honoured here. I've talked to somebody with conservation, somebody else who's worked on the lifeboat in Fishguard, and a man I've known since I was three years old - Davy Jones from Llanfairfechan, who's receiving an MBE for his services to music.''

Terfel said his chat with the Prince had been ``just a congratulations''. He added, ``He always likes to bring in a couple of Welsh words. He said congratulations in Welsh.''

Davies, chairman of Wales Youth Agency, received his honour for his services to young people and to rugby in Wales. And like Terfel, who was accompanied by wife Lesley and parents Hefin and Nesta Jones, from Pantglas in Gwynedd, he had a family day out to remember.

``We are all delighted about it, I must admit,'' said Davies. ``You don't expect honours to come your way, especially in my case as I've given rugby up a long time ago.

``But it's nice to think it's an honour given to the work I have done since then, especially with young people. ``It's superb that the ceremony is in Wales. We had expected to go up and collect it at Buckingham Palace but it's much better to be honoured in your own country than elsewhere.'' The former rugby star said he had chatted to Prince Charles about his role working with young people.

``He wondered how I have been spending my time since I stopped playing rugby and whether I missed it,'' he said. ``I suggested perhaps my knees and hips may not be quite up to it these days.'' The ceremony was held at Cardiff University's Glamorgan Building in the capital's Cathays Park.

Investitures in Wales have traditionally been held at Cardiff Castle, but were switched after a row over access for the disabled at the castle last year.

Also receiving the CBE were Ann Hemingway of the Vehicle and Operator Agencies' Advisory Board, Teresa Rees, Professor of Social Sciences at Cardiff University and Dr John Pritchard, former chief scientific adviser to the National Assembly. Among those awarded the MBE were former Welsh champion gymnast Leigh Jones of Swansea, Francis George, coxswain of the Fishguard RNLI lifeboat and school lollipop lady Margaret Higgins of Birchgrove, Cardiff. After the ceremony, the Prince met a group of young cancer and leukaemia sufferers from South and West Wales. The party of youngsters, aged between seven and 18 and all outpatients at Llandough Hospital near Penarth, travelled to meet the Prince at the university in two stretch limousines.

The Prince, still wearing the naval uniform he wore to carry out the investiture, chatted to eight-year-olds Jack Jones from Tredegar and Thomas Steer from Newport and seven-year-old Ethan Chichester of Cardiff.

When Jack and Ethan made it known that they were both Arsenal supporters, the Prince said, ``My youngest son supports them, so it's obviously a very good choice.''

To mark St David's Day, the Prince was presented with a basket of daffodils by Tony Curtis, chairman of the NSPCC for Wales, as well as thank-you gifts of a mountain ash tree and a mug from his own investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969.

The Prince had his own gifts for the children - boxes of Highgrove hand-made fudge.

He ended his day in Wales at Pyle Life Centre near Bridgend, where he joined politicians and performers from the Welsh National Opera to watch a performance of an operatic work, Heart of The Matter, by Bridgend Youth Theatre.

CAPTION(S):

GREETINGS: Opera star Bryn Terfel receives his CBE and royal congratulations in Welsh. `He always likes to bring in some Welsh words' says Terfel; CHAT: Gerald Davies receives his CBE from Prince Charles. The Prince asked about the rugby legend's work with young people and wondered if he missed the game
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUW
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:758
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