Work with H.M Volunteer Forces.
In the early 1900s, the National Council, London, initiated a movement to provide YMCA Service Centres for H.M. Volunteer Forces at their annual training camps. In 1905 the Welsh Committee opened its first centre. This was a tented camp. Its main social centre for the volunteers was generally a marquee 120ft in length, although marquees varied in size according to requirements and purpose. Concerts, lectures, and religious services were arranged - on one occasion the
Bishop of Llandaff paper distributed, were not served in prerogative of the
conducted the service. Reading was encouraged, writing and stamps and postal orders sold. Refreshments however, those days by the voluntary bodies, as that was the Army and Navy Canteen Board.
Colossal tasks were undertaken by Gwilym James and Roberts Powell during 1905-12. One summer, marquees were erected in nine different camps in districts as far afield as Perham Down, Conway, Portsketty, Parkgate, Oswestry, Llandovery, Carmarthen, Abergavenny and Porthoawl. The day to da;y work was undertaken by seventy four students of the University of
Wales Colleges, fifty five of whom were graduates.
A summer conference of students was arranged at Aberystwyth
, each year, to
recruit the student staff. On one occasion, a weekend conference was organised jointly by the Student Christian Movement and the YMCA, when one hundred and seventeen students attended. Two YMCA student groups were formed. One at Aberystwyth and the other at Trefecca Theological College.
This YMCA Volunteer Service was much commended by the respective Commanding Officers.
This work was evidence that Gwilym James had established an excellent student relationship with the University of Wales Colleges. One of these students was Rev. Idris Evans of Barry, who had much admiration for Gwilym James and found pleasure in relating his own camp experiences.
Considerable changes were effected in the administrative status of the Welsh YMCA governing body in 1905. The two District Committees for North and South respectively, together with their joint committee, were abolished. The National Council, London, decided it advisable to unify the Welsh administration by the formation of one body to be known as the Welsh Executive Council. This council was vested with authority to elect essential subcommittees, and to appoint representatives to serve on the National Council. No further amendments were made and this remained the legal status of the Welsh Governing Body until the National Assembly of 1973.
The administrative area was the then thirteen counties in Wales, together with Herefordshire, which was included in these arrangements due to the close YMCA relationship existing between the Associations of that county and the Welsh administrative body. St. Peter's House in Hereford, purchased by the Welsh Council, was established as the Council's administrative centre.
At the annual meetings of the National Council in London, when the new Welsh Constitution was approved, a generous tribute was paid to the excellent service of Gwilym James. The following extract is recorded in the