TV presenters Dan Snow and Huw Edwards have backed a £250,000 appeal to celebrate the 100th anniversary of David Lloyd George becoming Prime Minister.
It comes as new, previously unseen photos of Lloyd George were revealed by his remaining family.
The appeal was launched by the Friends of the Lloyd George Museum, as his family gathered at his graveside to mark his birthday.
Today Lloyd George’s grandson, 90-year-old Bengy Carey Evans, laid a wreath on the statesman’s grave watched by relatives, as children from Llanystumdwy village school sang songs.
The Lloyd George Premiership Centenary Appeal aims to raise much-needed funds to help develop the Lloyd George museum, designed by Sir William Clough-Ellis, with new exhibits and projects.
There will also be nationwide events, culminating in a glittering VIP dinner in London on December 6 – a century to the day since Lloyd George was appointed Prime Minister by George V.
A former solicitor, Lloyd George went on to lead the Coalition Government through the First World War before playing a key role in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 that re-shaped Europe, and also helping to partition Ireland.
The last Liberal Prime Minister, his social changes also laid the groundwork for today’s British welfare system.
TV historian Dan Snow, who is great-great-grandson of Lloyd George, has visited the museum several times, and recalled his father, grandfather and great-grandmother telling him their memories of the young solicitor who went on to change British politics.
He said: “David Lloyd George is one of the most fascinating figures in British history. An anti-war radical who became the most powerful man in the British empire, at its zenith and oversaw a vastly expensive and brutal war. A man who laid the foundations of our welfare state. The first Prime Minister to emerge from a working class background and the only Welsh speaking Prime Minister ever.
“We need to have a healthy museum to commemorate this remarkable man, not in London, but in the place where he grew up and formed so many of his deeply held political opinions.”
TV newsreader and presenter Huw Edwards presented the 2013 Criccieth Festival’s David Lloyd George Memorial Lecture, under the title Rebranding the Firebrand.
He said: “I am honoured to support the efforts in 2016 to highlight the unique contribution made by David Lloyd George as prime minister.
“He proved to be a superb wartime leader as well as one of the greatest reforming politicians of the twentieth century. It is important – in Wales and beyond – to remember his towering contribution.”
Lord Dafydd Wigley, who held Lloyd George’s seat for Plaid Cymru for 27 years, said: “I was honoured to follow in his shadow, and share the challenge of trying to incorporate social justice into legislation at Westminster.
“He was a remarkable politician on any basis and his work, particularly as Chancellor of the Exchequer, in laying the foundations for the welfare state was a huge contribution to UK politics, reflecting Welsh political values at their best.
“Later in the year we shall remember him as Prime Minister at a most difficult period in the 1914-18 war – the only Welsh-speaking statesman ever to have held that post,” added Lord Wigley, who gave the Criccieth Festival Lecture in 2009.
Historian and author Margaret Macmillan, Lloyd George’s great granddaughter who is also supporting the appeal, said: “He was an inspirational war leader and social reformer. He left a lasting mark on the history of Wales, of Britain and of the world. He brought Wales and Welsh interests to the national stage and became one of the most important British political leaders of the twentieth century.
“He introduced a series of social reforms from old age pensions to unemployment insurance, he modernised British finances and fiscal policy; he harnessed British industry to the war effort during the Great War and as Prime Minister he pulled the country together in that great struggle and brought it to victory in 1918. In the subsequent peace negotiations he was one of the Big Three who shaped the map of the world.
“This extraordinary and multifaceted figure must be remembered and commemorated and there is no better place to begin this than the Lloyd George Museum in Llanystumdwy, the village where he was brought up and which chronicles the story of his remarkable journey from that village to Downing Street.”
The appeal is being co-ordinated by Lloyd George’s grandniece Elizabeth George from Criccieth with her brother Philip, who is president of the Friends of the Museum.
She said: “We would like to see the museum refreshed, with more modern, interactive exhibits. These will focus on his life and political contribution, especially as Prime Minister during the First World War, for when the museum opens for the 2017 season.
“We are also hoping to organise workshops, lectures and event to explore the role of Prime Minister, both in war-time and peace. We would also like to develop the library as an educational resource and study area
“We will be creating a new work of art, in partnership with Gwynedd Council’s Community Art Unit, while there will be exhibition at different locations. Images of Lloyd George will explore how he was promoted during his public life through paintings, photographs, postcards and pottery.
“Other national and international partnerships are being fostered with the National Library of Wales, Museum of Wales, National Eisteddfod of Wales, the National Liberal Club in London, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in the USA and the Clemenceau Museum in Paris, Pathe News and Wales For Peace.
“Finally, there will be a celebration dinner in London on 6 December 2016 to mark and commemorate the centenary of the exact date on which Lloyd George became Prime Minister.”
Councillor Mandy Williams-Davies, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member said: “As a council, we are delighted that the Friends of Lloyd George Museum are launching this campaign and it confirms the important relationship that exists between the Council and the Friends.
“As we mark a century since the Great War, it is extremely important that the museum can suitably commemorate Lloyd George’s contributions, especially during his time as Prime Minister from December 1916.
“We hope the appeal, along with local events to celebrate David Lloyd George’s life, will help to ensure that one of the most important international political figures of the 20th century, with his roots so strongly in Gwynedd, will be remembered for generations to come.”