to expand Association work in Wales. During his term of office a considerable number of towns and large villages were visited where he spoke at conferences advocating the needs of the YMCA Movement in the locality. Often the conferences were organised by the churches of the district and, where necessary, he used the Welsh Language. In all these efforts he was ably assisted by the Rev. Glyn Davies of Bangor, who was also enthusiastic to spread the good news of the YMCA Movement in Wales.
At times a conference resulted in the formation of an Association. If circumstances were not propitious, a local Committee was formed to give the matter further consideration, or as a last resort, a local correspondent would keep in touch with the Central Office.
Positive results of these strenuous efforts were the re-opening of the Associations at Blaina and Usk. New Associations were established at Holyhead, Ffynnongroew, and Colwyn Bay in North Wales and at Aberdare, Penrhiwceiber, Carmarthen, Aberavon and Cwmbran in the South.
Reports of the supervisory duties of W.R. Thomas appear to be meagre. At the end of the three year period in 1899, he resigned. No evidence is available for the reason for his withdrawal.
An assessment of Association progress in the years between the constituting of the National Council and the South Wales District Committee in 1882 and the end of the century when W. R. Thomas resigned, would probably indicate that methods of organisation were of a pioneer nature. Associations in the early days multiplied rapidly. Many of them, however, were small with inadequate accommodation and insufficient equipment. The supervisory Council staff of one man, operating sometimes on a part time basis, could not muster the time to give the required guidance to inexperienced Committees. The resources to survive periods of declining interest were not available to prevent closure of many small Associations.
Let credit be given and gratitude expressed to those who toiled in the days of the early beginnings. Some of those Association Committees of voluntary workers accomplished an invaluable service to their members in an age when higher education was a privilege of the few. The agency activities of the Bible Study class, lectures, debating societies, self improvement groups and competitive literary occasions, evoked a ready response among its members. In these and other varied exercises the spark of self education was ignited which found an expression in avenues of religious and social service through the church, community organisations, public Authorities and Trade Union movements.
By the end of the century, earlier aspects of pioneer methods were gradually receding in favour of mature organisational concepts. The Movement in Wales was showing signs of stability and sustained growth.
The visible factors which contributed to this situation were as follows:
At the end of the century, the National Council launched a penetrating investigation into the image of the Association and its fitness to cope with the demands of the 1910s. It was reminiscent of Manchester and the 70s and other similar previous investigations. The usual work parties of the Council and Association groups got active and in due course, made known their findings. The conclusions of their deliberations were formulated and the declared objectives for the new age were listed in the National Council reports of 1899 in the following terms: