A couple of months ago Dr Matthew Griffiths retired as Director of the Civic Trust for Wales. Matthew will still be involved with the Trust and we are grateful that we will be able to call on his considerable knowledge and expertise which has guided the Trust so ably for the past 25 years.
His support for the civic movement in Wales and for individual societies has been immense. His innovative approach, from the establishment of Open Doors/European Heritage Days to the creation and production of the Trust’s highly respected magazine “About Wales” has been instrumental in promoting a shared appreciation and respect for the built heritage in Wales. He has, most recently, spearheaded and championed community involvement in characterisation in Wales. Matthew has been a generous and supportive manager of his staff with an inclusive style which has been greatly appreciated by all who have worked with him.
Jo Coles (Acting Director) and Anna Lermon (Project Officer)
Below are comments from some of the people Matthew has worked with over the years.
Lyn Owen, Chair, Civic Trust for Wales Board
When I became Chair of the Civic Trust for Wales in 2012, I was still learning much about the Trust, what it does and where it came from. Matthew was immensely helpful to me as I felt my way into chairing board meetings and made myself familiar with the administrative side of the Trust. I have been very impressed with Matthew’s knowledge of architectural history and heritage, and there are many communities all over Wales who have benefitted from the work and support of the Trust under Matthew’s directorship. He will be greatly missed from the Trust, and we are very glad indeed that his expertise and experience will still be available to us as we explore new ways of working in and all over Wales.
Bill Davies, architect and former Board Member:
I was sorry to learn of Matthew’s retirement as Director of the Civic Trust, and feel he will be sadly missed. During his tenure he brought direction, professionalism and enthusiasm, and he raised the profile of the Trust beyond its limited committed membership. He took its boundaries beyond Cardiff, involving societies throughout Wales.
His enthusiasm for the publication ‘About Wales’ was infectious. The magazine further enhanced the Trust’s profile and involved many societies. Throughout the time he worked with Gill Hancock, her ability in organisation and her general stability allowed Matthew to concentrate on his strengths. His concentration, academic approach and general knowledge, beyond, but including environmental issues, and above this his ability to express and impart his beliefs and ideas, both verbally and in writing raised the Trust to a new level.
In addition he was easy to work with, patient and pleasant, and self-effacing, giving credibility to the Trust both throughout Wales and beyond.
I feel grateful for my time as a Trustee and for the benefit of working with Matthew and others, it certainly broadened by outlook and I wish every future success to the Trust.
Gill Hancock, former Civic Trust for Wales Administrator:
I started working for the Trust in 1992/3 when it was based in two rooms in Mount Stuart Square. Matthew was a lovely person to work with, always very inclusive, a very generous boss. He always praised his staff and adopted a joint working approach, asking for opinions and views, even on things that I didn’t know about such as magazine designs.
In terms of the Civic Trust’s work, I was working with Matthew when the Trust was approached to organise European Heritage Days in Wales. It started small, with some public buildings and private houses in Cardiff and surrounding area, and churches and farms in North Wales. When Cadw came on board later it developed into the premier heritage access programme in Wales. We held conferences for civic societies in North Wales and in Cardiff and in the mid 90’s there was a very successful conference in County Hall. Matthew was responsible for producing the excellent ‘About Wales’ magazine and focusing on a different town in each issue. He would engage with the local civic society to get them to have a look at their town and to then write up their observations for the magazine. Supporting civic societies is one the roles of the Civic Trust and in one instance Matthew worked with the Fishguard Civic Society to stop the development of a by-pass that would have gone through the historic Lower Town. Matthew successfully supported the Society at the Welsh Office public inquiry and they won.
Nick Roe, current Civic Trust for Wales Board Member:
My main recollection of Matthew would be that he kept the Civic Trust for Wales going through some pretty difficult times and didn’t get despondent when times were hard. Lately he’s been responsible for the successful urban characterisation project which has produced some good publications and outputs. While plenty of others deserve credit for Open Doors, his overall management is the reason for its success. Not forgetting the magazine About Wales which is a well-respected publication that Matthew has produced almost single handedly. To me personally he was always supportive and encouraging on issues such as photography for the magazine.
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