Red Cross memorial trees, Llandrindod Wells
The row of trees here, at right angles to Princes Avenue, was planted in 1946 to commemorate Red Cross fundraising by rural communities across Britain. Nine trees were planted in the shape of a cross. Two of the oak trees had to be felled in 2010 because they were suffering from a fungal disease. Replacements were planted.
A metal plaque near the road records that rural Britain raised £9m for the Red Cross Agriculture Fund during the Second World War. The counties of Brecon and Radnor contributed £35,467 – equivalent to about £1.5m in today’s money!
The Agriculture Fund was supported by more than 18,000 fundraising committees in rural Britain. Schemes included voluntary levies paid by milk producers and a “rural pennies” collection scheme. Many schools organised “onion clubs”. Onions grown by children were sold to the armed forces, and proceeds went to the fund.
Radnorshire also raised funds for the Red Cross during the First World War. In December 1916, for example, farmers from the Llandrindod Wells area held an auction at the Grand Pavilion which raised more than £100 (c.£8,000 in today’s money), mainly for the Red Cross. The remainder went to the Blue Cross, which cared for wounded war horses.
The Red Cross operated auxiliary hospitals in Llandrindod Wells in wartime. Plans for the first were discussed on 7 August 1914, the day before war broke out. In 1915 the Red Cross moved its Llandrindod hospital to the Highland Moors spa hotel.
The Red Cross was formed in Switzerland in 1863 to provide neutral help to wounded soldiers. The British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War was launched in 1870 and became the British Red Cross in 1905.