At home in Wales and in nations all over the world, people with Welsh heritage – and people who are Welsh at heart – are today celebrating St David’s Day and all that is great about our country.
Children will be travelling to school dressed in national costume; Eisteddfod audiences will be regaled with Welsh poetry, and hundreds of people, heads bobbing under the weight of bright yellow daffodil hats, will be taking part in colourful St David’s Day parades up and down the country.
I’ve always been aware of the power of what it means to be Welsh.
I’ve long been fascinated by centuries-old literature at the National Library and been proud to bring the Welsh language to Westminster debates in my time as Secretary of State for Wales.
I’ve been entertained by the Welsh National Opera and marvelled at the exploits of our sports stars around the world.
I’ve been moved by heroic tales of the Welshmen that fought for our freedom at First World War centenary commemorations.
And I’ve been transported back to my childhood by our museums and Eisteddfods.
These have all been experiences that have made me proud to be a Welshman, and proud of all that we contribute to the world.
For centuries, Wales’ greatest asset and greatest export has been its people.
We are international in our outlook and have taken our flair, inventiveness and determination to succeed to the four corners of the globe.
Wales has helped bring peace and security to nations, made some of the world’s greatest inventions, and been at the forefront of international trade in every continent.
Because this is a country whose achievements in industry, in technology, sport, music, literature and the arts - they far outweigh our size.
I have also been playing my part by getting on the road to open doors for Wales. From my trade missions to Japan, the USA and the Middle East – they all demonstrate that this Prime Minister and her UK Government is fully behind Wales and I am sending a message to the world that Wales is one of the best places to live, work, visit and trade with.
And our reputation as Europe’s best kept secret will soon be no more as so many more people will come to see for themselves just how much Wales has to offer when the tolls to cross the Severn Bridges are abolished later this year, and flights from Cardiff to Qatar take to the skies in May.
Because in this period of momentous change, we must shout louder than ever before about Wales – I will always champion the Welsh entrepreneurs, inventors and creative people that are leaving an indelible mark around the world. About the business and investment opportunities we have here, about our calibre as a first class sporting and cultural destination.
And today, we celebrate that success by flying the Welsh flag high over N10 Downing Street at the UK Government’s St David’s Day reception – just as it will be flying over our public buildings, churches and schools all across Wales.
So let’s prove that we can be proud of our individual nations and also be committed to our precious union of nations. Because no matter how great we are alone, we will always be greater together.
Once again, to everyone across Wales and around the world, I’d like to wish you a very happy St David’s Day. Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus I bawb.