5th November 2019 — Four Monmouth students have represented their town in a special friendship visit to Caldes de Montbui, near Barcelona, in Spain.
The trip celebrated 150 years of missionary work led by George Lawrence, who attended Monmouth School for Boys in the mid 1800s.
Monmouth School for Girls’ students Ellen Swartz, Eden, Carmel and Keilah Greaves were among the delegation which also consisted of Baptist Minister, Rev Jonathan Greaves, church deacon Cliff Vandervelden, and retired Missionary, Marian Hall.
Mr Lawrence’s work included the founding of a hospital, distribution of Bibles in Catalan through the Bible Society, and planting churches.
He had been a member of Monmouth Baptist Church, which arranged the trip, and this was the first time Caldes de Montbui received official visitors from Monmouth since the days of Mr Lawrence.
During their visit, the Monmouth delegation heard about the work of Mr Lawrence, and met the churches he started which are still active today.
They also experienced local culture and history, including the thermal baths which are fed from a thermal spring.
The delegation took a letter of greeting from Monmouth's Mayor, Cllr Richard Roden, a governor of Haberdashers' Monmouth Schools, to the civic officials of Caldes de Montbui who welcomed them.
The Town of Caldes de Montbui have honoured the work of Monmouth-born Mr Lawrence by re-naming a street after him, while the small Spanish town is his final resting place.
Mr Lawrence also established schools in the area which, with advanced thinking for his day, taught girls as well as boys.
In a report about his work in Spain, printed in the Monmouthshire Beacon in the 19th century, Mr Lawrence said he hoped the William Jones trustees would open a school for girls in Monmouth.
And, 16 years later, Monmouth School for Girls was founded.