The Prince of Wales has officially opened NWN Media’s new print centre near Chester.
He spent the morning of his visit touring north Wales before being welcomed to the new print works by NWN Media’s chairman Russell Whitehair and vice-chairman Nonna Woodward.
The Prince also started up the press to print a special commemorative publication of his visit featuring a front page photograph of his arrival at the press hall just moments before.
He chatted to staff, regional press publishers and Thomas family shareholders, now in the fifth generation of ownership.
One of their titles, The North Wales Chronicle, is the country’s oldest newspaper and celebrates its 200th birthday this year.
Russell Whitehair, who is also president of the Newspaper Society, underlined the importance of local papers to community life.
He said: “While the industry is undergoing profound and faster change than perhaps anyone has witnessed since the introduction of the printing press, the industry and NWN are fully signed up to the changes that are at the heart of media in the 21st century.
“We are confident a vibrant future remains for print and newspapers that take up new opportunities in order to maintain the unique service we offer local communities.”
The Prince unveiled a plaque made of Welsh Slate from a quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
He said: “It is always an enormous pleasure to visit this part of Wales and to see the work carried out by local and regional newspapers of this kind here.
“I’m impressed to see the latest technology you can find.
“It was a substantial investment and represents remarkable faith on behalf of the family who put so much into this over a long period of time.
“These remarkable family companies do play such an important role in local communities. “I want to use this opportunity to congratulate this family for what they do for the local area.
“So many of these local and regional newspapers play such a vital part in their communities, I salute all of you involved in this particular industry and wish you well for the future.”