A VISIT to northern France has inspired Vale MP to urge families in Barry and the Vale to prepare for centenary events in 2016.

Vale MP Alun Cairns has visited the Mametz Wood, with his family, to pay tribute to the Welsh soldiers who died in battle during World War One.

He saw the striking Welsh Division memorial – a red dragon sitting atop a three metre stone plinth made by the Welsh blacksmith David Petersen.

The sculpture was erected in 1987 by the South Wales Branch of the Western Front Association in memory of the hundreds of Welsh soldiers lost during the Battle for Mametz Wood and it will be the focal point for the event centenary in 2016.

Alun said: “The recent World War One commemorations in Barry and the Vale served as an important reminder of the sacrifices made by our forefathers during World War One. It has been a long held aim of mine to visit the monument at Mametz Wood. To have been stood with my family in the very fields where so many soldiers lost their lives was incredibly emotional. It is for this reason that I support the various groups in Barry and the Vale that serve to ensure these losses are never forgotten.

"The centenary of the battle of Mametz Wood in 2016 will be of huge importance to Vale communities and I am keen to help the leaders of groups like the South Wales Branch of the Western Front Association and Barry at War lead our efforts of remembrance.”

Secretary of South Wales Western Front Association, Phil Davies, said “It is a great boost to receive the support of Alun Cairns and we hope that he will continue to be involved in our planning for the commemorative events in July 2016 of which details will be published shortly. At the same time we are continuing to raise funds towards the refurbishment of the memorial. We are also seeking to make contact with any families from the Vale whose ancestors fought at Mametz Wood and involve them in the centenary events.”

If you have an ancestor who was at Mametz Wood in 1916, Phil via philgreenisha@btinternet.com