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Wales: award given for support of Bible pioneer visitor centre

Bala resident Mary Thomas has been awarded the first Mary Jones Prize, thanks to her support and work with the Bible Society's visitor centre at Llanycil ...

Bala resident Mary Thomas has been awarded the first Mary Jones Prize.  

The Prize was presented at Mary Jones World visitor centre at Llanycil, near Bala, on Monday (2 March 2015). James Catford, Bible Society’s Group Chief Executive, presented Mrs Thomas with a piece of inscribed Welsh slate and a cheque.

The Prize awarded by the Fellowship of Mary Jones is presented to the outstanding individual who has done most to keep the story of Mary Jones alive.

In awarding the prize to Mrs Thomas, the Fellowship noted the extraordinary contribution that she had made, through the Mary Jones Walk and support of Mary Jones World visitor centre, to ensure that the story of Mary Jones, Thomas Charles and the Bible’s impact in Wales and the world has continued to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds.

After getting the award Mary Thomas said: "It is a great honour to be selected for the first Mary Jones Prize. I thank the Bible Societies of the Fellowship of Mary Jones and I accept the award gratefully on behalf of myself, the people Meirionnydd and the whole of Wales.

"I am sure that Mary Jones and Thomas Charles would be amazed at such happenings in Llanycil. But I believe that the message that is being communicated to all ages in Mary Jones World is a continuation of the message they took pride in over 200 years ago."

James Catford said: "The Fellowship of Mary Jones was unanimous in their view that Mary Thomas should be the first person to receive this new annual award. It could not go to a more deserving person.

"Mary Thomas has worked tirelessly to ensure that people understand how significant Mary Jones and Thomas Charles are to the history of modern Wales. We offer Mary our sincere congratulations and grateful thanks for all of her work and support over many years'

Christine Daniel, Head of Bible Society Wales, commented "Mary Thomas has been a great friend to us as we have developed Mary Jones World. I am delighted that her contribution to keeping the story of Mary Jones alive is being acknowledged in this way."


The Fellowship of Mary Jones comprises (currently) of 17 Bible Societies throughout the world who have donated finance and expertise to enable the creation of Mary Jones World.

Mary Jones: In 1800 Mary walked 26 miles from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, across the Welsh mountains, to Bala to get a Bible from Revd Thomas Charles. Mary saved for six years to purchase one and Thomas Charles was so moved by her determination that he helped establish Bible Society four years later.

Mary Jones World is a visitor and education centre. It is based at St Beuno’s Church, at Llanycil, which has been re-developed by Bible Society using traditional materials. Mary Jones World is open daily from 1 April to the 31 October. Schools can book to visit the centre.

The Mary Jones walk: Mary Jones' story is well known throughout the world, but no details of the exact route she took have ever been found. Mary Thomas researched the Mary Jones Walk and devised a likely route from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant to Bala following public footpaths, bridleways and unclassified roads.

Mary began her work on the walk in 1998 and a year later her first rough guide was complete. Today’s guidebook of the route is in five sections.  More details about the walk can be found on the Bible Society website.

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