There is no record of the first organized association of Welsh people in Hong Kong. There were eminent Welshmen in Canton, both as senior staff of the East India Co., such as William Parry and Samuel Williams, and as officers of the East Indiamen and of the country ships trading from India.
After the founding of Hong Kong, a number of Welshmen rose to senior positions in Government service, the Armed Forces and in business. Tudor Davies, who was Chief Magistrate in 1859, played an important role in the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs.
The St. David's Society of Hong Kong is a membership society for Welsh people in Hong Kong, or for anyone in Hong Kong who has an association with, or affinity for, Wales.
The first recorded gathering of note to celebrate St. David’s Day was the banquet of 1 March 1911, held at the Hong Kong Hotel, Queen’s Road Central, near Pedder Street. From that date a record has been kept of all Presidents of the Society.
During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, St. David’s Day was celebrated in the internment camp in Stanley. The proceedings included music by The Welsh Male Voice Choir under the leadership of the Reverend Richards, of Radnor, who also gave Welsh lessons to those inmates who wished to learn the language of heaven.
The Society continued to grow after the war and since that time officers and members have included an acting Governor of Hong Kong, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Postmaster General, Commissioner of Customs & Excise, the Head of Hong Kong Land, the Legal Advisor to HSBC, the editor of The Far East Economic Review, the youngest ever full Professor of Law at The University of Hong Kong and a number of senior military officers.
The Society also created a benevolent fund to assist Welshmen in distress. The last Welshman in distress aided by the Society was David Edmunds who at the age of 89 was allowed to come to Hong Kong from China in 1972, together with his Chinese wife and two daughters. Mr. Edmunds had worked for the department store Whiteways in Shanghai since 1920. The Society supported the family in Hong Kong for two years until they were repatriated to the UK on 5 June 1974.
In more recent times, thankfully due to fewer members of the Welsh community in Hong Kong being in distress, the St David’s Society of Hong Kong has taken on a charitable role in donating funds to chosen charities in Hong Kong and Wales. This has been funded primarily by the generosity of attendees to the Annual St David’s Day Ball.
We continue to provide a point of social contact for Welsh men and women in Hong Kong and indeed anyone who has an affiliation with Wales, be it through school, university, work or simply a love of the country. Our social gatherings vary from year to year but are always focused on (relatively) light-hearted entertainment and the enjoyment of each other’s company.