Youth Message of Peace and Goodwill

In 1922, the first Message of Peace and Goodwill was broadcast by the children of Wales to the world. Over nearly a century, thousands of young people have been part of forming, sharing and responding to the message of peace. Initially facilitated by the Welsh League of Nations Union at the Temple of Peace, since 1946 the message has been an inspiration for the humanitarian and international work of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh Youth movement - with 1,500 branches and 50,000 members across the country. WCIA are working with the Urdd to gather this rich history of youth messages, overseas responses and international exchanges through the century.

What is 'the Message'?    History    Archive of Messages     Archive of Responses    The Message Today   Contribute       

What is 'the Message'?

It is a message on behalf of all the young people of Wales to young people across the world. The two organisations principally responsible for the arrangements and the committment to sustain the message, on behalf of the nation, have been the League of Nations (until the 1950s) and the Urdd. From the outset, the message’s success has been due to the enthusiasm of outward-looking teachers and organisations across Wales that work with young people. Volunteers translate the message into multiple languages, and offers to translate the messages to even more world languages are welcomed. To coincide with the date of the first peace conference at the Hague in 1899, the message is always sent out on the 18th of May.

Equality for Young People is the theme of the 2017 Message of Peace and Goodwill from the youth of Wales to the World, to mark the Urdd Eisteddfod 2017 in Bridgend from 29 May - 3 June.

History of the Message

The inspiration and the enabler, in terms of the international reach for the message, was Gwilym Davies of Cwm Rhymney. He was a pacifist and was prominent in the establishing of the Welsh Union of the League of Nations and UNESCO. He believed in uniting the children of the world. Initially, he experienced disappointment, since there was no response to the first ever message in 1922. These were the days of wireless telegraphy and the message was addressed in general to the children of the world. His consolation was that at least the Director of the Eiffel Tower Station received the message and forwarded it, in French.

Yet again, Gwilym Davies was a man of vision and determination, and in 1924, after the BBC broadcast the message for the first time, two responses were received, one from Sweden and the other from Poland. Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards, founder of the Urdd, decided to support the campaign so that ignorance and prejudice could be abolished. The response rate increased and by 1927, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Nansen, noted:

“I feel convinced that it is the spirit in this message of the children of Wales which humanity needs.” Dr. Nansen, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Thus, despite the slow start, within a decade, 68 countries had responded. Then came the shadow of the Second World War, yet the annual message was still broadcast without fail, although responses were few and far between. Old contacts were revived after the war and new contacts flourished. To complement the message, peace camps were also held in Wales and overseas trips were arranged to enhance cultural exchange and international understanding.

Despite an evolution in content and form, the aim of the message has remained constant. Repeat wording is seen in the early messages, such as from 1922 to 1928, with the main effort going into collecting responses. More recently much originality and thought has gone into the presentation of the message by the Urdd such as in song, verse or performance. Nowadays, the wording and theme also changes annually, usually in response to current events or to campaigns by charities. Wales for Peace has been working in partnership with the Urdd, the National Library of Wales and the People’s Collection Wales, in order to share the wealth of this peace message heritage on the People’s Collection Wales website

A Wales for Peace exhibition on the peace message was launched with the National Library of Wales at the Flintshire 2016 Urdd Eisteddfod.

Young People's Dreams through the Years 

WCIA and the Urdd, working with the National Library of Wales, have unearthed and digitised most of the messages of Peace and Goodwill from 1922 to today which can be viewed on the People's Collection Wales website.Exploring the peace messages gives an insight into the priorities, concerns and dreams of young people in Wales through the century.
  • 1922: A wish, following drastic losses in WW1, that “there will be no need for any of us, as we grow older, to show our pride for the country in which we were born by going out to hate and to kill one another.
  • 1938: “More than ever the world needs what we alone can give – the confidence and the comradeship of youth.”
  • 1947: “We know that we live in a wold full of fear and of danger. We have heard of the terrible atom bombs that can blot out our civilisation. But we believe that there are mightier things in the world than any weapons of mass destruction, the things of the mind and of the spirit, faith and hope and love.”
  • 1951: “Over the continents and across the seas youth calls to youth that it wants to live for peace. We would dedicate ourselves with you all to the service of mankind. So shall we, millions of us, grow up to be the friends of all and the enemies of none.”
  • 1985: "If young people like us can talk to each other we shall be contributing to a better understanding between nations large and small and whittling away the ignorance, prejudice and suspicions of the world.”
  • 2002: “By sharing experiences and a new culture we can develop respect and love towards each other. By learning about each other, our friendship will build bridges and hopefully close the door on ignorance and open the door to justice and peace.” (Part of the ‘Welcome Calcutta’ campaign.) 

Responses from Overseas

  • 1938  France: “Aux enfants du pays de Galles. Nous avons écouté votre émission avec joie, car nous avons trouvé en vous des partisans de la paix.”
  • 1939 Algeria: “Nous sommes de tout Coeur avec vous, dans votre désir d’union entre les jeunesses du monde.”
  • 1946 Germany: “It is years since we have heard from the Welsh Children. How it grew dark! We should like to hear from you again.”
  • 1948 Japan: “We are really happy to know, after so many years of isolation, that you have sent so hearty words of friendship and love.”
  • 1952: Canada: ”If I were Minister of Education I would make trips to other lands a compulsory part of every child’s education.”
  • 1958 Argentina: “Mae’r gobeithion ar ieuenctid y byd, ac rydym ninnau ar y cyd gyda chi, am wireddu’r gobeithion hyn.”
  • 1958 India: “At this time, when nature is adorned with new loveliness, let us greet one another in the bond of friendship.”
  • 1965 Bulgaria: “Let our hands be clasped, and let us not permit any power to sow hatred between us.”
  • 1969 Zambia: “The boys and girls of Zambia wish to congratulate the youth of Wales for the initiative ….The youth of Zambia call upon all boys and girls in the world to fight against war, apartheid and all forms of racial discrimination.”

The Message Today

Equality for Young People is the theme of this year’s Message of Peace and Goodwill from the youth of Wales to the World, which will be broadcast from the Urdd Eisteddfod 2017 in Bridgend from 29 May - 3 June.

The 2016 message was written by the pupils of Ysgol Maes Garmon, Mold, Flintshire, working with Wales for Peace on the theme of Conscience and Choice: Building Blocks of Peace - marking the centenary of military conscription in WW1, and remembering conscientious objectors who opposed war.

The deeply moving 2014 message marked the centenary of the start of WW1, and was written by young people of Merioneth working with Cymdedithas y Cymod and peace campaigner and award-winning poet Mererid Hopwood. It was performed from Yr Ysgwrn, the home of WW1 War Poet Hedd Wyn.

Exhibition and Contributing Hidden Histories

We do not yet know the whole story, so the Urdd, supported by Wales for Peace, launched a nationwide call from the 2016 Flintshire Eisteddfod for people's stories that will help uncover the history of young people's dedication to peace and international understanding. View exhibition panels here.

Please contact WCIA (walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk) or the Urdd (heddwch@urdd.org) to share your story or to hear more about volunteering opportunities.

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