Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust
1006. Mark Baker
Dr Mark Baker, from Denbighshire, is a remarkable campaigner who has single handedly saved Gwrych Castle, near his home town of Abergele, from ruin.
33 year old Mark first began campaigning to save the castle, which can trace its roots back to the 12th century, at just 11 years old. At 13 he formed the ‘Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust’ to raise awareness of the castle’s rich and diverse history, including its direct links to the British Royal Family and its role in housing over 200 Jewish refugee ‘Kindertransportee’ children during the Second World War. In 2018 and under Mark’s chairmanship, the Trust was finally able to purchase the castle with plans to restore it and open it to the public. The Trust have employed local people to support the restoration work and have provided hundreds of volunteering opportunities for people to support the project. Mark has recently published a complete history of the castle, describing the book as a ’20 year labour of love’.
In a personal letter to Mark, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“From launching the ‘Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust’ at just 13 years old, to finally receiving the keys to the castle this year, your remarkable determination and years of campaigning have saved an important part of local history.
“I wish you all the very best with the restoration works which will preserve the castle for generations to come.”
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:
“Castles are a fundamental part of Welsh culture and heritage, and through Mark’s work the public will be able to learn about the role Gwyrch Castle played in our history.
“People like Mark ensure that communities across Wales come together in support of important projects, and I would like to thank him for his role in making the ambition a reality.”
David Jones, Mark’s local MP and MP for Clwyd West, said:
“Mark Baker has campaigned tirelessly for the restoration of Gwrych Castle, an important landmark near the town of Abergele. Mark’s tenacity has resulted in the formation of the ‘Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust’, which has now acquired the castle. This is a huge achievement for such a young man and I am delighted that he has won this award. I look forward very much to working with him further in the future.”
“It is a great honour and rather humbling that the Prime Minister has selected my story to be chosen for the Point of Light award. I hope that this will encourage others to volunteer and protect their local culture and built environment. Thank you.”
Picture credit: Rhyl Journal